I have heard the word “interesting” being used as a way to describe how people think or feel about something in seminar discussions too often. I miss the days when I didn’t care; it’s the point that matters. As long as someone had something to say and they could say it in a way where I didn’t have to consult a dictionary to decipher their message, then I listened.

But then I had a classmate who loved to use it in every sentence they spoke. “It’s interesting that,” “So that’s why I found that so interesting,” “What struck me as interesting” — I couldn’t handle it. And it was contagious. Everyone said it. 

“They bring up an interesting point.”

“Interesting question.”

“That’s actually so interesting because —”

I heard it until I couldn’t stand it anymore. I felt like I was getting hit on the head by a word that demanded my attention. Why wouldn’t you listen to something that’s “interesting”? Aren’t you curious? Sure you are, what a ridiculous question. I started thinking: why does this word exist? Why do we use it? 

“Interesting” does have an interesting history. Its first known use was in 1768, younger than Yale. And when it comes to pronunciation, the word has always been flexible. One could say it using three syllables or four, with accents stressed on different letters. 

More than 200 years after “interesting” came into use, the word has evolved, but it has become more misleading. I don’t find what my classmates think of as “interesting” as, well, interesting. It’s not that what they’re saying is not “of concern” (as the word originally meant). I don’t know how they actually feel about the things that they say. The word is vague, spilling with connotations and definitions that range from positive to negative, and it relies heavily on a person’s tone. “How did you like the class?” I ask my classmates. “It was interesting.” 

The thing is, for the spectrum of connotations that “interesting” covers, the way that one says it in a seminar is neutral. Without context, it’s too easy to get confused as to what a classmate means. 

Classmates usually use it to introduce a point. But it feels slow. “Interesting” is the waiting in line to get to whatever it is that may or may not be actually interesting. It’s the biting into a food to get to the delicious center. It’s an expectation, not a descriptor. 

I implicate myself as I’m writing this. I’ve abused the word. We all have. And I know how writing an opinion piece about one insignificant word makes me sound pretentious. If you’ve never met me, I wouldn’t blame you if you thought, “Wow, what an insufferable nerd,” while you were reading this. If you have, I wouldn’t blame you if you thought, “Isa, you’ve become a full-fledged English major. I mean, you look like one, but this — this — proves it.” Couldn’t the point that one makes in a seminar still matter regardless if they decide to sprinkle in “interesting” into a couple of their sentences? Yes, it could. But I think that for an argument to be received, understood, and remain resonant in discussion, it should be plainly spoken. And it helps when one deletes the words that no one needs and that no one cares about. 

“Interesting” is no longer interesting. Please, use a more interesting word. 

ISA DOMINGUEZ is a junior in Timothy Dwight College. Her column, “Classroom Banter,” analyzes student life and campus culture. She can be reached at isa.dominguez@yale.edu.

Isa Dominguez is a current co-editor for the Opinion desk and a staff columnist for the News. Originally from Doral, Florida, she is a senior in Timothy Dwight College majoring in English.