For some reason, I’ve been noticing that our nation’s cliché factories have been flooding the market with the verb to skyrocket – as in common spam subject lines concerning stocks, or descriptions of fads, etc. This usage strikes me as both amusingly inapt yet, ultimately, quite accurate.
First, I suspect a lot of people who use the phrase aren’t necessarily aware of what exactly a literal skyrocket is, and how it differs from, say, a regular rocket. It’s a firework, as it turns out – but like all such devices, once fired skyward, it inevitably returns to earth…usually in pieces or burnt to a crisp.
So if the idea is to talk about something rising or increasing dramatically, this is exactly the wrong word to use, at least if you’re being all salespersonish about it. Those stocks might indeed be skyrocketing – they’re up there now but they’ll be crashing down to earth shortly. And then where’s your bulging portfolio, Mr. Idiot “I Believe in Spam” Investor?
And that, of course, is the sense in which the phrase is often quite apt in the long run…since most of the stuff described as “skyrocketing” (like, say, Britney Spears’ career circa 2000) will eventually fall to pieces in dramatic and destructive fashion.