03 January, 2014

Over-used Words of 2013

On New Year's Day the BBC online magazine ran this article listing the 20 words they think were most over-used last year. These are the words some people would probably be quite happy to see left behind us as we stride into 2014. Take a look at the list and see what you think.

There were some popular words with specific meanings - 'twerk' and 'selfie', for example (although selfie was also the Oxford English Dictionary's Word of the Year). However, lots of the words on the list are not "bad" in themselves, rather, it's the context they are used in which irritates people.

Some of these words definitely irritate me. The way politicians use 'look' to emphasise what they're saying - e.g. "Now look, I'm completely clear on this..." - I find mildly annoying (not as annoying as someone telling me that they've been clear on a subject, however. If you've been clear you don't need to tell me you've been clear, thank-you!) Ditto, the use of the words 'passionate' and 'robust' to describe any and every action. Other entries I have no objection to - I don't mind the use of hashtags (though I draw the line at saying the word 'hashtag' in conversation) or the use of 'doing' in contexts where it's not standard English (e.g. "Let's do lunch sometime.") In fact, for the most part, none of these 20 make my blood boil.

Perhaps my least favourite is the word 'amazeballs'. I dislike it and wouldn't use it. There are others however, which I am guilty of using all the time - some of which I didn't realise annoyed other people! I am sure I use 'absolutely' too much and I definitely start sentences with 'anyway' or 'so'. I suppose starting sentences that way is similar to starting lines of dialogue in fiction writing with 'Well...'. Early on in my writing life I read somewhere that you should try to cut every 'well' from the start of lines - only leaving in the ones that are completely necessary - and it was a very valuable piece of advice. It does make writing so much smoother; one of those situations where you need to make your dialogue less realistic in order to make it more readable!

The picture I've used for this post I also used for one of the most popular posts of all time on this blog - a discussion about whether good grammar matters. How much should we defend it versus how much should we move with the times? So here is another chance for you to rant as you did then. Which words would you happily leave behind in 2013, or claim back in 2014? I'm still on a mission to see the abolition of 'myself' when the speaker/writer actually means 'me', but I fear it is a losing battle...

Anyway... Happy New Year to you!


8 comments:

  1. I also hate it when people say 'myself' instead of me! But what irritates me the most about is that people use 'myself' to try and make them sound smarter or more educated (prime example - The Appreciate candidates!) but it actually achieves the opposite result!!

    I also hate amazeballs! But must confess I am guilty of shortening every word possible - ridic, totes, emosh... I could go on! But I do when is appropriate and when it is not!!

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    1. It was The Apprentice that tipped me over the edge. It's fine to use sloppy/non-standard English in casual conversation (I do all the time!), but not in a job interview.

      My absolute favourite Apprentice moment was...
      Margaret: Can you describe yoruself without using cliches?
      Stuart Baggs (The Brand): Yes I can... With me you get exactly what it says on the tin.

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  2. My least favourite word of 2013 is probably 'monetise', which, sad to say, is not about becoming an impressionist painter. I've never heard 'amazeballs' used in conversation and I'm grateful for that. I am guilty of trying to make verbs out of nouns to see if they'll catch on (none have). Maybe we need a blogpost on words we have invented.

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    1. I always make verbs out of nouns! Ever since 'to google' became normal there's no stopping it...

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  3. I have never heard "amazeballs" either. I'm not really sure when the following phrase became popular, but I have never liked, "It is what it is." And I'm not crazy about the advise to writers to develop their "brand".

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    1. A lot of marketing words like "brand" seem to have slipped into every sphere of life recently. Seems like a lot of people don't like it either!

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  4. I must lead a sheltered life because I've never heard of 'amazeballs'. But whatever it means I've already decided not to like it. Your mention of the Apprentice reminded me that I hate the way business jargon is creeping into the language - generally to make very simple things sound more impressive. Is there a difference between the price of something and the 'price point'??

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    1. Business jargon is one branch of the trend of adding extra words to every sentence unnecessarily. I get annoyed listening to athletics commentary when everyone Polish is "the Pole" and nobody ever is (e.g) 30 years old, they are always 30 years of age.

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