I’m not one of those people who resist new words or usages just because they are new. I like neologisms. But there is one I’ve started hearing over and over lately that is absolute shit. “Impactful.” There are already dozens of ways of saying something has an impact. Many of them are a single word, so don’t say “impactful” is more concise the than the synonymous phrases it is presumably replacing (“has a great impact,” “is deeply affecting,” etc.). What’s wrong with “impressive,” “stunning,” “influential,” or “stimulating?” These all seem to be what people mean when they say “impactful,” in various contexts. Is it really helpful to have one portmanteau word that covers all those connotations?
If the idea of coining “impactful” was to reduce excessive verbiage of “has a great impact,” or “is powerful,” here’s another synonym with one fewer syllables: “forceful.” You’re welcome.
“Impactful” usually seems to be applied to an emotional or psychological impact, but there is something to be said for clarity. Is a meteorite impactful? If not, did you really mean to use the word “impact” in it?
Also, “impactful” generally brings to mind “impacted colon” or “impaction”: “Your low-fiber diet is impactful.”
Note that this rant is not specifically against the kids on my lawn, because I have heard this word being used by people of my generation and older. Although a few online dictionaries are recognizing this impacted neologism, it has not yet made it into the OED, so maybe there is still time to shame people into dropping this ugly coinage, or at least redefine it.
Impactful : (adj.) causing impaction. “The Adkins diet is really impactful.” Etymology: coined by bad business writers as a term to suggest “effectiveness” (“My impactful projects include…” and made popular by journalists with inferior judgment. Occasionally used as a lazier, buzzier form of “forceful” or “having impact.”