The Grammarphobia Blog

A booby prize is awarded

Q: Recently I’ve been running across “awarded” used as an adjective: for example, “the most awarded book,” meaning the book with the most awards. Is this new or am I just noticing? I don’t think it’s correct.

A: This is a new one on me, too.

The noun and verb “award” date back to the 1300s, but the only related adjective is the rarely used “awardable.” Here’s a 1622 citation from the Oxford English Dictionary: “No Processe is there awardable against the party.”

I have to object to this new “awarded” usage on the grounds that it’s confusing and ambiguous.

When someone refers to “the most awarded book,” does he mean a book that’s won the most awards, or one that’s been given the most as awards – say, at graduations?

Over the centuries, for example, copies of the King James version of the Bible may have been given to more Sunday school pupils than any other book, making it the “most awarded” book among such students.

But maybe you and I are too picky. When I google “most awarded,” I get over 200,000 hits! Sigh.

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