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Worn-out Words: [Guardian] Last year Ledbury poetry festival asked poets to name their most hated words. For this year's festival – running from 1 to 10 July – they've asked for the expressions that have become such cliches that they have lost all meaning. Here are their responses: please add your own.
posted by Fizz (163 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
It is what it is.
posted by box at 5:18 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


At the end of the day, it's "at the end of the day."
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:18 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ugh, middlebrow language fascism. So elitist. Not every sentiment needs an exquisite, sublime expression, and common usage isn't the only usage.
posted by smoke at 5:20 AM on July 1, 2011 [10 favorites]


Your face
posted by philcliff at 5:24 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Right on.
posted by item at 5:25 AM on July 1, 2011


Is there any expression that clearly shows mundane, established thinking as "thinking outside the box?"
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:27 AM on July 1, 2011


"I am a very spiritual person"

Why? Exhausted on its first usage. Its vague passive-aggressive subtext implying they are a better, more moral person than you. Often uttered by the most self-centred of people, possibly while getting a lift off you and ranting against the tyranny of cars.


I know this person.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:28 AM on July 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


Cliches have their uses. Fancy poetic words have their place. Jargon, bromides and neologisms can all be put to good use. Proof? S.J. Perelman.
posted by Faze at 5:28 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Spooge.
posted by Ahab at 5:29 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I like how the article's image with the caption "Pointing the finger at pulchritude: 'a brutally latinate cudgel of barbaric consonants'" shows a finger pointing at the word "investigate".
posted by aught at 5:29 AM on July 1, 2011


"it violates all the magical impulses of balanced onomatopoeic language - it of course means "beautiful", but its meaning is nothing of the sort, being stuffed to the brim with a brutally latinate cudgel of barbaric consonants. If consonants represent riverbanks and vowels the river's flow, this is the word equivalent of the bottomless abyss of dry bones, where demons gather to spit acid."

This is exactly why I love the word "pulchritude." It's so hideous and in opposition to its meaning that I adore it for its very perversity. I could never have expressed my love for this word better than Philip Wells has right here.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:30 AM on July 1, 2011 [16 favorites]


spot on
posted by kitchenrat at 5:31 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


"How are you?" as a greeting has got to be the most overused, and least truly meant. It isn't even actually meant as a shorthand "I hope you are well" anymore. It's just a string of sounds made upon greeting.
posted by DU at 5:38 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Absolutely.
posted by fundip at 5:38 AM on July 1, 2011


Business jargon in general needs to be killed violently. If I hear "price point" one more time, I'm liable to hit whoever says it. It's "price", you fucknut.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:39 AM on July 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


fantastic
posted by facetious at 5:39 AM on July 1, 2011


Huh, that was not the Adam Horovitz I was expecting.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:40 AM on July 1, 2011


synergies, metrics,

these kinds of words are used a lot by administrators who usually have little grasp on whatever it is they are trying to talk about.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 5:41 AM on July 1, 2011


"As easy as pie." Really!? Have you made a fucking pie, shit takes some while and is very easy to fuck up.
posted by Fizz at 5:42 AM on July 1, 2011 [19 favorites]


What are words that are consistently misused a ham-fisted manner by those who choose to go with style over substance?

OK, I'll take reoccurring memes for $1000 Alex.

But more than the words, I hate the people who choose to go with style over substance.

And on preview, Faint of Butt has just been promoted to muse!

posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:42 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


The knee-jerk addition of "at best" to every instance of "mediocre".
posted by dfan at 5:46 AM on July 1, 2011


"Creative", "creativity" and worst "creative" (used as a noun to refer to a person that is addicted to facebook, wears a lot of H&M and occasionally does something with Photoshop). The combined exposure to these C-words nearly gave me bowel cancer.
posted by mr.ersatz at 5:46 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


After reading the explanations I've concluded that these aren't words the respondents hate; they're words used by the type of people the respondents hate.
posted by rocket88 at 5:55 AM on July 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


'Content'.
In media production and publishing, content is information and experiences that may provide value for an end-user/audience in specific contexts.The word is used to identify and quantify various formats and genres of information as manageable value-adding components of media.
posted by SyntacticSugar at 5:58 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


aha moment

My (teacher) co-workers use this all the time and it drives me bug-nuts.
posted by Huck500 at 6:01 AM on July 1, 2011


Progressive.
posted by joannemullen at 6:03 AM on July 1, 2011


To "reach out to." As used by:

- an awful Amway-hawking acquaintance: "Oh hiii hegemone, I just noticed that it's been a while since we talked and thought I'd just reach out to you to find out if you might be interested in that awesome money-making opportunity I mentioned last year?"

- my boss: "Just thought I'd reach out to you to make sure you knew we may not have funding to keep you on board here for August..."

Despite attempting to make it sound all human connectiony, it always turns out I never want to be "reached out" to by anyone who wants to try.
posted by hegemone at 6:14 AM on July 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Word.
posted by swift at 6:15 AM on July 1, 2011


"Good news" as in "Spread the good news" as in "Talk to people about Jesus until they want to cram your fucking bible in your big overly-smiley mouth". It's not "news" and it's not "good".

Why is it that when some place is always called the "Good News Center" it's really the "Bad News, Run Away As Fast As You Can Center"?
posted by dunkadunc at 6:17 AM on July 1, 2011


House of Representatives
posted by dave78981 at 6:18 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I can't stand having to de-plane a damn plane. I'd rather just get off the damn thing.
posted by entropone at 6:20 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Uncanny Valley.
posted by chococat at 6:27 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


words:
analytics
blessed
unique
So (to start every sentence)

phrases:
engage the reader/user
frank dialogue (met him once, a dick)
our men and women in uniform"
posted by stargell at 6:27 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm continuing my decades-long hatred for "way, shape, or form." Almost every sentence that ends with this phrase would be instantly improved by placing the period after way. Depending on the usage, it's either redundant or nonsensical.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:29 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


totally
posted by judson at 6:29 AM on July 1, 2011


I can't stand having to de-plane a damn plane. I'd rather just get off the damn thing.

Absolutely. What ever happened to "disembark?"
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:30 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Sooner rather than later" & "thanks for this/that", where 'soon' & 'thanks' used to do just fine.

Also, "not fit for purpose."
posted by Flashman at 6:31 AM on July 1, 2011


What ever happened to "disembark?"

Oh, you mean like what beavers do to trees?
posted by overeducated_alligator at 6:32 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


"I'm a very spiritual person" is definitely one that brings the red mist down for me. It's generally a social disaster if someone says that to me when I've had a few ales. It's such a smugly vacuous thing to say.

Other than that, it's business-speak that drives me to aneurysm. Any of it. It's all repulsive.

Oh, and more of a massive irritant than a cliché is the mystifying modern tendency for people to repeat the "is" in expressions like, "The point is". They say "The point is, is that I'm an inarticulate simpleton", or, "The thing is, is that I totally deserve a good punching". Seriously, where the hell did that nonsense come from?
posted by Decani at 6:33 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


IMPACTFUL: I just hate this word so much.
posted by Renoroc at 6:33 AM on July 1, 2011 [11 favorites]


Oh, and "In terms of..." as an opener to just about every damned thing ever. That's a horror.
posted by Decani at 6:37 AM on July 1, 2011


Wicked
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:38 AM on July 1, 2011


"That is all." Presumptuous, unnecessary, and any other adjective that would make it a hatefulness trifecta.

also, "trifecta"
posted by psoas at 6:40 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


'Trifecta.' 'Hat trick.' 'Threepeat.'
posted by box at 6:45 AM on July 1, 2011


I find it hard to get irritated by phrases like "at the end of the day" - I mean, it's empty and void, but it's harmless.

Business buzzwords, on the other hand, wind me up no end. "Deliverables" (results), "Going Forward" (in the future), "Good News Story" (success), "Dynamic Situation" (clusterfuck). These really are like Newspeak.

And those are pretty mild. Perhaps these poets ought to work in an office for a while.
posted by Acey at 6:45 AM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Right?
posted by ShutterBun at 6:57 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


"raising awareness"
"to raise awareness of/about/concerning..."
posted by Chrischris at 6:57 AM on July 1, 2011


bling
posted by Confess, Fletch at 6:59 AM on July 1, 2011


It is what it is.
posted by ShutterBun at 6:59 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Impact as a verb.

My former boss would completely lose it whenever he encountered the word "signage." He would also need to be restrained from throttling Salvation Army bell ringers.

I personally would like all persons using any variation of "put this behind us" boiled down for glue. It would be a lot of glue. But that much glue would be less trouble than the sort of people who say "put this behind us."
posted by warbaby at 6:59 AM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


"price point"...wouldn't simply "price" work?
posted by Confess, Fletch at 6:59 AM on July 1, 2011


Pie may be hard to make but its easy to eat which is what I always think of when I hear the phrase "easy as pie".

Female makes me see red as in "I was at this bar and me and my buds were talking to some females".
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 6:59 AM on July 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


"But equally", followed by something entirely not equal.
"Grow", used as a verb as in "We grew our business by 25% in the 3 years and under clinically obese demographic"

@hegemone: I always find "reach out" like that sounds rather creepy, actually.
posted by mathw at 7:00 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]




"Status" used as a verb. "Let me status him and I'll get back to you".
posted by Rob Rockets at 7:03 AM on July 1, 2011


"Tall pole". I hate that one too.
posted by Rob Rockets at 7:03 AM on July 1, 2011


Your mom.
posted by daniel_charms at 7:04 AM on July 1, 2011


In the same vein as pulchritude; I give you voluptuous. It's a wonderful word that nobody ever uses, pronounces or spells correctly. It's also taken on the memetic weight of "fat" even though it doesn't mean that.

Also, the word "pussy" makes me cringe. It's just so...I dunno, juvenile and icky. (But "cunt" doesn't bother me. Go figure.)

Other words that I'm weary of:

Bailout
Leveraged
Buyout
dotcom
web X.X
CDO
wall street vs main street
Lame street media
posted by dejah420 at 7:04 AM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Curated as used by anyone who doesn't actually work in a real museum.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:05 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Kick the can down the road" is my least favorite.
posted by josher71 at 7:06 AM on July 1, 2011


"Sooner rather than later" & "thanks for this/that", where 'soon' & 'thanks' used to do just fine.

I must disagree here. "Sooner rather than later" actually attaches a level of urgency and detail that just "soon" doesn't have.

In terms of "Thanks for this or that", what is wrong with being specific with what you are thanking someone for even if it is obvious? I find just "Thanks" to be rather terse.
posted by josher71 at 7:08 AM on July 1, 2011


"...if you will."

Suggests the speaker is stooping to simplicity only for the sake of a slightly dim audience.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:11 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hate it when people state random thoughts, and then follow them with "Discuss". Like I need permission to comment on some half-brain idea that you've just made up.
posted by shesaysgo at 7:12 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah, just what poetry needs these days: to come off as more elitist, cold, and hateful towards outsiders.
posted by rkent at 7:15 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Are we having fun yet?" said by anybody other than Zippy the Pinhead.
posted by Rob Rockets at 7:17 AM on July 1, 2011


synergies, metrics,

I had a boss that used "synergy" so much to so little purpose that the entire staff held their breath for a moment each time he used it. If we had been able to make it a drinking game, we would have. And we would have been drunk all the time.

"Beg the question" really irritates me because a) most people use it to mean "so here is the question I want to ask," which is not what it means, but b) I can't really blame them, because there is pretty much no way to parse that phrase to get it to mean what it really means. So people use it, I get annoyed, then I am a little ashamed that I am annoyed because, really, it's a reasonable error, then I get irked at the phrase itself, and then I get annoyed at myself for getting so worked up by a phrase, and then the whole thing just sucks.

It's a hard life, and I blame my brain.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:17 AM on July 1, 2011 [12 favorites]


'Trifecta.' 'Hat trick.' 'Threepeat.'

Do you have something against things that occur in threes? You're really limiting our descriptive choices by dismissing that triumvirate.
posted by Jpfed at 7:17 AM on July 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


If the word pulchritude was forbidden, my ninth grade latin teacher wouldn't be able to show the class what idiots we were by asking the hysterical trick question, "Which word would be more complementary to your girlfriend, her pulchritude or her magnitude?"
posted by digsrus at 7:20 AM on July 1, 2011


Commenting on the phrase "price point": it's often misused. The price of something is 6.50, the price point is either high/low, mid-range, etc. It's not meant to be used for a specific quantity. It bothers me, too.
posted by shesaysgo at 7:20 AM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


"I'm not going to lie."

Well, good. Were you lying prior to this statement?
posted by Seppaku at 7:22 AM on July 1, 2011


"Tall pole". I hate that one too.

Did you have a bad experience in Palo Alto?
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:24 AM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nah, nah, I love things that come in threes. It's a magic number, yes it is.
posted by box at 7:24 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I started working at an ad agency about five and a half years ago, and was astounded to learn that "real" marketing CEOs at blue-chip companies actually use "impactful" and "learnings" on a daily basis.

I honestly believed these were parody words, used in things like Office Space and Dilbert cartoons and never actually found in the wild.
posted by Shepherd at 7:25 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


"How are you?" as a greeting has got to be the most overused, and least truly meant. It isn't even actually meant as a shorthand "I hope you are well" anymore. It's just a string of sounds made upon greeting.

A thousand times this. I can't express how grating I find it when I see someone say "How are you?" and someone else responds "How are you?" without even making a vague attempt to answer the question, and then they both go on their way apparently satisfied with that exchange. If that's all your after, what's wrong with saying "Hello"? At least with "Hello" you won't cause my brain to spend 5 or 10 seconds deciding how I actually am, by which time you've moved on and decided I'm rude for not responding.

That and management speak are really my greatest gripes. A lot others may mean something irritating 90% of the time they're used, but they still mean something. "How are you?" used as [ARBITRARY GREETING NOISE] and management-speak are both cases where I just want to grab someone by the collar and yell "Words are supposed to have meanings, FFS!"
posted by mstokes650 at 7:25 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Impact as a verb.

Perfectly good if used in the narrow sense of an energetic collision, especially between celestial bodies.

Examples: "No, it didn't go in... it just impacted on the surface," or "What is believed to be the dinosaur-killer impacted at Chicxulub..."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:25 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Best practices.
posted by scrowdid at 7:28 AM on July 1, 2011


"send a message..."

We're always sending messages, to al Queda, to the other political side, to the EU, to at-risk teens, to Wall Street, etc. Nobody ever gets the message, so quit with the passive-aggressive message sending and just fucking talk to each other.
posted by headnsouth at 7:32 AM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Shed new light." I don't really want to think about what you're shedding, buster.
posted by amy lecteur at 7:35 AM on July 1, 2011


I guess when I hear "How are you?" I also hear "Hello" and I'm ok with that. I think if they truly want to know how I am then they will ask "How are you" in way that will make that clear. I can differentiate the two fairly easily.
posted by josher71 at 7:37 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now, more than ever... we need a post like this.
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:37 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Beg the question" really irritates me because a) most people use it to mean "so here is the question I want to ask," which is not what it means

Phrases or words can have different valid meanings in different contexts. "Institutionalization" means something very different to me than it would to a psychiatrist. Even phrases that originated as a term of art in some specific setting can acquire valid new meanings outside that setting; I'm too lazy to do so but there must be many nautically-derived phrases that mean or meant one thing to a sailor and something else in common speech.

but b) I can't really blame them, because there is pretty much no way to parse that phrase to get it to mean what it really means.

It's one of those phrases that nobody should ever use for any reason, now. If you use it in the common-usage sense, it's a terrible cliche and runs the danger that someone will use it against you as a class marker. So in that sense, you should just say "That prompts the question of..."

If you use it as the term of art, well, it's horrible obscurantist jargon that offers neither clarity nor any appreciable brevity. You should simply and directly state "You're assuming that which you claim to prove," or cut straight to "petitio principii" which at least is (a) very brief and (b) impossible to confuse by parsing the words as one ordinarily would.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:39 AM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Please". As an artist AND a member of metafilter, i've come to realize I'm owed so many, many things. I shouldn't have to beg for them like the hoi polli.

"Thank You" As an artist and metafilter member I shouldn't have to play the game of pretending gratitude for the so very many things I am owed.

"I'm sorry". This would imply that I, an artist AND metafilter member I would have some inclination to apologize for my actions, or even to sooth the feelings of others. This phrase, like the ones above, require that I, as an artist AND metafilter member care about the feelings of the sort of people I despise, which is everybody.
posted by happyroach at 7:40 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


IRREGARDLESS.

I experience actual shivers of repulsion and hate when I hear it. I'm trembling slightly with suppressed rage looking at it now.

PS: 'I am a very spiritual person'
At a friend's BBQ a while ago, someone said this to me. I'm not terribly patient with silly small talk at the best of times, and this night i'd had a few drinks so the part of me that would usually bite my tongue and wander off was busy elsewhere. Thus, without thinking i replied:
'Huh. But you seem so horribly corporeal.'

Then I did that horrified slo-mo brain thing where you realise what just came out of your mouth, and that you weren't just daydreaming it.

You guys, I know what you are thinking! I am superfun at parties!

posted by pseudonymph at 7:52 AM on July 1, 2011 [14 favorites]


Good god, we really do not have enough real things to worry about, do we?

Our pathological cultural focus on identifying cultural "types" based on various superficial cultural signifiers, distancing ourselves from them, and sorting ourselves out into in- and out-groups is on full display here, IMO.

Maybe this is an incidental consequence of our cultural habit of insisting we're a "classless society." Maybe since we aren't willing to acknowledge any ready-made, historically-received social classes in which to sort ourselves into appropriate hierarchies on an economic power basis, there's some residual sense of class insecurity that makes us gung-ho about finding methods for sorting ourselves out on an ad hoc basis until we feel sufficiently warm and smug up our own asses to be reassured we're secure in our social identity. Or maybe it's due to all the niche marketing that dominates the pop culture.

Either way, really? All the use of these various beloved/loathed linguistic tropes really signals is that the speakers were socialized in such a way that they ended up habituated to using them. It's not like people are making a deliberate, conscious effort whenever they speak to choose exactly those canned phrases or cliches you personally find most annoying.

Also, where do people who are really passionate about this stuff get the energy to care so much about it? Seems like it'd be kind of a drag on one's mental resources to be so heavily invested in choosing other people's words for them. I have a hard enough time choosing my own. As long as I can understand the basic gist of what someone is saying to me (and as long as the content of what they're saying isn't repugnant), I'm usually just grateful for someone to talk to.

IRREGARDLESS.

Okay, well, no--on second thought, there are limits.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:53 AM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


PERfect. I don't know if this a regional thing or what, but it's become something of a default response for many yuppie types around here. Like, in my dumb retail job:

Me: "Okay, I'll get that together for you."
Her: "PERfect."
Me: "Ma'am, your order is ready."
Her: "PERfect."
Me: "Your total is $15.00"
Her: "PERfect, thanks."
Me, silently: "It's not fucking perfect, it's perfectly ordinary. Stop abusing that word."
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 7:59 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


As you all complain about what bothers you, let me tell you what bothers me about your complaints:

'price point' - Not the same thing as price, it involves people's psychological reactions to numbers.

'metric' - Just Latin for what you use to measure something.

'good news' - 2000 years old. The Greek word is 'evangel'. 'ev-', or 'eu-' is 'good', and 'angel' comes from the root for 'message'. They're trying to be more direct in their language.

'begs the question' - People use it incorrectly because it's a stupid phrase that hides what it supposedly means and only exists because of a crappy translation from the Latin. (LanguageLog has the full story here.) 'beg' means 'ask', not 'assume'; the misuse makes a whole lot more sense than supposed 'real' meaning. As ROU points out, it's a dead phrase now.

irregardless - If someone uses that with me, I figure in for a penny, in for a pound, and start using the word 'disirregardless'. I expect the world will catch up with me some day and I will have to resort to 'undisirregardless'.

What bothers me? 'Blood and treasure' - 'Treasure'? We're not fucking pirates. And I think it promotes thinking of the U.S. as an imperial enterprise. We plunder treasure here, and we spend it conquering over there. Not what I want for my country.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:05 AM on July 1, 2011 [4 favorites]



"Homeland" and "Make no mistake, ..." are particularly grating.
posted by WyoWhy at 8:07 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


conversation, mindful, this president, reality, ginormous (and dusted-off variations), war-fighters, warriors, breaking news (it's rarely), motor court, interesting, like, amazing, awesome, nice, very very (spate of adults talking childishly recently), pedagogy (especially if near academics or museum or artists), man-cave, all variations of immigrant, you know, whatever, literally, outside the box, rocket science, brain surgery, variations on retard (doom-tard, Goog-tard), exclusive, leading provider, world-class, you, I, proven track record, passionate, viral, back-story (as though one is a screen-writer), Palin snark or literal variations (refudiate, mama grizzlies), sweet, stoked, priceless...for starters.
posted by wallstreet1929 at 8:10 AM on July 1, 2011


benito.strauss: 'irregardless - If someone uses that with me, I figure in for a penny, in for a pound, and start using the word 'disirregardless'.

For no reason that I can understand (and despite the gnawing loathing that the first produces in me), I love it when people do this. As soon as someone does it, I automatically feel great affection for them and sometimes the strong desire to snuggle them a bit. Or maybe buy them a beer.

Humans, eh?
posted by pseudonymph at 8:15 AM on July 1, 2011


Happy
Fun
Good
Nice
Hello
posted by Casimir at 8:15 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


'price point' - Not the same thing as price, it involves people's psychological reactions to numbers.

A "price point" is a "price" on a demand curve.

1. If I had a million dollars for everytime anyone I've ever dealt with used the term correctly, I'd be broke.

2. It's still a "price".
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:16 AM on July 1, 2011


Long story short.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 8:26 AM on July 1, 2011


Incentivize

Turning perfectly useful adjectives into verbs by adding -ize to the end of a word is a crime. Unfortunately, I can only think of this one example. Still, I am tempted to take a hatchet (even to my wife) when I hear someone use this word.

Even "Utilize" gets my back up. What's wrong with using "use?"

I'm still fighting against "Prioritize." And if you want to see me go into a foaming-at-the-mouth conniption fit, tell me that we are going to "de-" or "dis-incentivize" something.

As for the one phrase I would happily consign to the bin-heap of history, it would have to be "Boots on the ground."

And finally, the word that everyone seems to mistake for its inverse:

Decimate is 10% -- awful when it means killing 1 out of every ten soldiers, but it hardly conveys disasters on a useful scale. A fire that only destroys 1 out of 10 houses it threatens would not be quite as terrible as the fire that actually destroys 9 out of the 10 houses.
posted by arkham_inmate_0801 at 8:28 AM on July 1, 2011


'Trifecta.' 'Hat trick.' 'Threepeat.'

Jpfed: Do you have something against things that occur in threes? You're really limiting our descriptive choices by dismissing that triumvirate.


You can't beat Shakespeare for thinking outside the box, triumvirate-wise.

"The triple pillar of the world transform'd into a strumpet's fool..." (said of Anthony).
(I so love that line - but my husband gets fed up hearing it).
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:30 AM on July 1, 2011


Well played.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:33 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Irregardless of what you guys think, the pulchritude of the English language, its core competency (if you will) is in its breadth of expression. I'm a very spiritual person, and as I was de-planing I read this post and had an aha moment. We can either agree now that all language is beautiful, or we can kick the can down the road, in which case - I'm not going to lie - we are going to deny ourselves some impactful synergies. In terms of meaning, we need to embrace our inner creatives to leap the uncanny valley of ambiguity and speak and write in a way that honors our men and women in uniform. We can't just spooge words all over. At the end of the day, the fantastic depth, width, and height of our language gives us a spot on, totally wicked trifecta of awesomeness. Going forward, remember we are blessed to have so many choices. Picking good words is as easy as pie!

That is all.
posted by freecellwizard at 8:42 AM on July 1, 2011 [16 favorites]


"Impactful" has been forementioned, which is enough to roil my axons. But the folly is compounded when used to describe the following:

- technologies

::shudder::
posted by obscurator at 8:45 AM on July 1, 2011


freecellwizard:

Have I worked for you?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:04 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm throwing this thread under the bus.
posted by Trurl at 9:10 AM on July 1, 2011


I've noticed recently that the word individual is starting to replace person. I suppose that's because individual stresses the uniqueness of someone more than person does and for some reason this bothers me.
posted by redyaky at 9:12 AM on July 1, 2011


Sometimes I have nightmares that my copy editor is walking a few steps behind me and whacking me every time I speak, the same way her red pen leaves scars on all my earnest prose.
posted by memewit at 9:14 AM on July 1, 2011


Journey or path, used in that pseudo-new age way to describe someone's process or personal history.
posted by mdaugherty82 at 9:21 AM on July 1, 2011


A few:
Outstanding! (ugh, so 80's mach backslapping)
Fail! (Too shadenfreudey)
it's not rocket science
Rubenesque (thinly veiled alternative for fatso)
redacted (pretentious for edited out)
terrorist (overused)
hottie
chick
Whatever.
puked in my mouth a little
facepalm
A little wee came out.
Buh-bye now
Vajayjay
That's so last year.
Choke the chicken
asswipe
The Wind Beneath Our Wings
twink
goatse
Fake!
posted by nickyskye at 9:24 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Whatnot" or "...and whatnot." If it appeared in a speech bubble over your head I might attempt to wrench it out of the air and bludgeon you softly to death you with it.
posted by steef at 9:25 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


passed on instead of died (where they pass on to?)
blogosphere
posted by nickyskye at 9:33 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think, like, I'd like to hear less, like, like.
posted by kinnakeet at 9:34 AM on July 1, 2011


passed on, instead of died (where they pass on to?)

Might I suggest a comma?
posted by obscurator at 10:07 AM on July 1, 2011


"Here's the thing" is shorthand for "pay attention, now; I'm about to say something important".

"I laughed at this more than I should have" Seriously? How can you laugh too much at something? Laughing at funny things is great. Everyone should do it more. Who is telling you that you shouldn't laugh that much?

"What is this I don't even" used to accompany something truly mindbending, and is now used with just about anything someone found odd, inappropriate or a little confusing. It literally makes me rip my own head off with rage.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:09 AM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Future planning going forward." What makes some people think that the more redundancies they utter, the more profound they sound?
posted by charris5005 at 10:12 AM on July 1, 2011


"meme"
posted by briank at 10:25 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think "incentivize" is far better than the supposed verb "to incent."
posted by BrashTech at 10:25 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


BrashTech, I think the point is that there is no "verb" for incentive: "to provide incentives" would be the preferred alternative to "to incentivize."
posted by dhens at 10:27 AM on July 1, 2011


"What are you gonna do?" It means "Why bother thinking about it?" It's lazy, and one of my small passive-aggressive pleasures is to make suggestions of what one might do.
posted by goatdog at 10:28 AM on July 1, 2011


"What are you gonna do?" It means "Why bother thinking about it?" It's lazy, and one of my small passive-aggressive pleasures is to make suggestions of what one might do.

As a person that uses this phrase one of my aggressive pleasures would be to punch you for doing that.
posted by josher71 at 10:40 AM on July 1, 2011


Well, "what are you gonna do," he asked pseudo-philosophically.
posted by goatdog at 10:42 AM on July 1, 2011


"Moving forward", "going forward" - as opposed to what, moving backwards in time?
People sometimes use this weird phrase to mean "next". Or plop it into a sentence as filler. Bah.
posted by doctornemo at 10:48 AM on July 1, 2011


Do we count casually uttered semi-racist remarks such as "gypped" or "rule of thumb"? because most people lack the knowledge of where those phrases come from and the type of weight they carry.
posted by Fizz at 11:00 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


"What is this I don't even" used to accompany something truly mindbending, and is now used with just about anything someone found odd, inappropriate or a little confusing. It literally makes me rip my own head off with rage.

What.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:07 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hate any word that's supposed to denegrate someone you don't like. Conservaturds, libruls, any dismissive name for Obama, Bush or pretty much anyone. I can't think of very many examples because as soon as I see them I stop reading that person's posts.

Generally I hate the same business phrases everyone else in this thread does: "on a going forward basis," "synergy," "that's a non-starter," but I love the phrase "mission creep" because I never had a way to describe it before. Plus, I had to have it explained. When I first heard it I was imagining Mission Dolores creeping down to the Pennisula for a little R&R.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:09 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


BrashTech, I think the point is that there is no "verb" for incentive: "to provide incentives" would be the preferred alternative to "to incentivize."

Or just "to reward."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:09 AM on July 1, 2011


Zero Tolerance. Fuck you, high school principals who suspend kids for taking a fucking Advil because of zero tolerance for drugs.

Whatnot grates on my nerves.

And Too Much Information is so fucking smug it makes me want to slap the person.
posted by cereselle at 11:11 AM on July 1, 2011


"I laughed at this more than I should have" Seriously? How can you laugh too much at something?

1) When the group starts laughing AT you and not WITH you, you're finding things funnier than the norm, which can be perilous. 2) when you're laughing something and you notice that no one else laughing and are instead looking at you askance, in a nervous manner.

posted by small_ruminant at 11:15 AM on July 1, 2011


BrashTech, I think the point is that there is no "verb" for incentive: "to provide incentives" would be the preferred alternative to "to incentivize."

It's a lesser-of-two-evils thing. (Now someone's going to come along and say that they hate the phrase "the lesser of two evils.")
posted by BrashTech at 11:38 AM on July 1, 2011


1) When the group starts laughing AT you and not WITH you, you're finding things funnier than the norm, which can be perilous. 2) when you're laughing something and you notice that no one else laughing and are instead looking at you askance, in a nervous manner.

Those contexts I can understand. I almost exclusively see this phrase in response to something funny someone has posted on the internet. Although I suppose, "I laughed at this more than I should have [and my boss overheard me giggling and fired me for watching that cat in a coup can video instead of working on the report]."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:49 AM on July 1, 2011


... makes sense. I'm bad at finishing sentences.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:50 AM on July 1, 2011


To "reach out to." As used by:

- an awful Amway-hawking acquaintance: "Oh hiii hegemone, I just noticed that it's been a while since we talked and thought I'd just reach out to you to find out if you might be interested in that awesome money-making opportunity I mentioned last year?"

- my boss: "Just thought I'd reach out to you to make sure you knew we may not have funding to keep you on board here for August..."

posted by hegemone at 6:14 AM on July 1 [3 favorites +] [!]


The only time I've heard it used is by Detective John Kelly (David Caruso) in old episodes of NYPD Blue but we had much fun for a while using it inappropriately, "Darling, could you reach out to your mother and ask her if she'd like a cup of tea?"


My pet hate in the British press at least is "larger than life" being used for anyone over a size 8. Every. Damn. Time.
posted by humph at 11:50 AM on July 1, 2011


"Tectonic plates"
For some unknowable reason I persist in reading it as "Teutonic plates" and every time I wonder what Germans have to do with the plates.

Call me slow.
posted by francesca too at 11:54 AM on July 1, 2011


"visually stunning"... can we come up with any other adjectives for something that looks cool?
posted by Crane Shot at 11:58 AM on July 1, 2011


"And then she turned around to me and said ..."
What does this even mean? Why wasn't she facing you to start with? Maybe this is a curiously British thing. Also along these lines,
"Same difference"
"Just as equally"
Maybe pedantic to point out, both these phrases logically require comparison between at least three entities to be meaningful. Used in irony, maybe OK.
On the other hand I love "oh my days" and pretty much all the words on that last Grauniad OP link. Pulchritude! Who knew?
posted by iotic at 12:11 PM on July 1, 2011


poets who hate words aren't really poets.
posted by Shit Parade at 12:58 PM on July 1, 2011


My superior "tasks" me with things to do, as in, "Dr. Important tasked me with preparing the report" or "I have been tasked with some projects." Upon reflection, it seems to be a reasonable use of the word, but it still bothers the cranky, old-fashioned part of my brain.
posted by angiep at 1:17 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nourish, in its spiritual sense.

Gah.
posted by datawrangler at 1:51 PM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's a lesser-of-two-evils thing.

I like the lesser of two weevils better.
posted by nickyskye at 2:07 PM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


"I'd like to pick your brain."

Back off, you fucking mind zombie. Go reach out to Annette Bening in American Beauty and make beautiful parasites together.

(I'm also in the hate camp for "reach out" when it's used as bizspeak to mean contact.)
posted by gompa at 2:23 PM on July 1, 2011


"Tectonic plates"
For some unknowable reason I persist in reading it as "Teutonic plates" and every time I wonder what Germans have to do with the plates.

Call me slow.


Take comfort; In geologic time, you are really, really fast.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:24 PM on July 1, 2011


"Sooner rather than later" sounds so much better as "Sooner than later", but I stopped using that after hearing too many people using it with the unnecessary "rather" in it.

"Moving forward". What's wrong with "from now on"?

IRREGARDLESS. Irrespective. The word they're looking for is "irrespective." (Or, um, "regardless")

The "literally" thing I've almost given up on, but once in a while, I'll ask someone how they would figuratively do the thing they've thrown a "literally" in front of where it isn't even needed, e. g. "I literally turned right around and went back".

The verbing of "impact" and "incentive" doesn't really bother me, as I like to beat words into parts of speech they weren't meant for, but I don't usually wind up adopting them in my speech, because I usually have to spend more time explaining than I might have saved otherwise.

Mostly, I'm bothered more by mispronunciation, or people using the wrong word, or using a phrase that doesn't actually work the way they think it does.

"Besides the point" (or "Beside the point" without the preceding "that is" or its permutations)
"The reason being is..."
"Try and ____" instead of "try to ____"
posted by Mister Moofoo at 4:11 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Has anyone mentioned "sibling" yet?
posted by chavenet at 4:14 PM on July 1, 2011


Okay, I googled, but I give up. How is "rule of thumb" semi-racist?
posted by benito.strauss at 4:36 PM on July 1, 2011


Good Job
posted by cairnoflore at 4:46 PM on July 1, 2011


Time for me to be intolerant!!!

"Rule of thumb" is not semi-racist, or quasi-sexist, or any of that nonsense, any more than "picnic" is. A language thing that drives *me* crazy is people credulously accepting completely ridiculous origins for words or phrases (like acronyms from the 14th century or anything a tour guide ever asserts ever) rather than bloody LOOKING IT UP and finding out that no it DOESN'T have anything to do with alleged laws (I mean come ON) about how it was all right to beat your wife and/or slave with any stick smaller in circumference than your thumb but not okay to beat them with one that is bigger, because HOW DOES THAT EVEN MAKE SENSE? Ever??? Either it's okay to beat someone or it's not, right? How is anyone going to measure the stick you beat them with after the fact? And who the hell would bother to beat someone with a bloody tree trunk anyway? It's like my mother sending me forwards warning me about the Terrible Danger of this thing or that which has NEVER happened in a Wal-Mart parking lot EVER, and if she'd ever looked at any of the snopes.com links I sent her she would be able to recognize this, and GYUOTTYDYTD!@#%#@!!!!

Guys. My head just literally exploded. Literally.




I do have a list of Words I Hate, but that is on another computer. Right now I can only think of "wonky" and "wonk". But I do hate those with the fire of a thousand burning et cetera.
posted by Because at 5:16 PM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


masturbatory
There is nothing at all like, nor anything at all wrong with, masturbation. Give it a rest.

north of
Use of this geographic phrase to mean greater than is a sign of a northern chauvinist.

no brainer
The argument that you have arrived at your conclusion without using your brain is an argument you should forgo and I dismiss.

think out of the box
A decades old, useless phrase that is used by mimics to pretend that they are innovative thinkers. It would have died out except for stupidity.

Latin phrases (by English speakers)
If you are interested in communicating, use English. Nearly nobody knows the difference between id est and exempli gratia. The phrase "that is" doesn't cost anything extra and is clear. If you use the phrase per say, you are an idiot. Using English avoids idiocy.
posted by llc at 5:59 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


"In a sense."

There was a playwright on NPR a couple weeks ago talking about the state of theater in LA. He kept ending sentences with "...in a sense." It quickly became apparent that this usage added no meaning to his sentences. He'd say something like, "The true task of the theater is to provide a space for live performances to impart some truth on the viewer, in a sense." What does "in a sense" mean in that context? Other than perhaps as a hedge, in the event the interviewer disagreed with his assertion.
posted by malapropist at 7:07 PM on July 1, 2011


paradigm

rubric

well like...

a better fit...

take our country back...whaaa? Did we give it to another country?
posted by Oyéah at 7:31 PM on July 1, 2011


If you use the phrase per say, you are an idiot.

True, but "per se" doesn't really bother me. At least Latin phrases make some kind of linguistic sense.

Lately, what I find myself really annoyed with is the online tendency (especially among Mefites) to disingenuously end a statement with, "no?"

Like this: "Well, people are traditionally pretentious, no?"

It's disingenuous because the person doing this is generally not really asking a question at all, but making an assumption. And the phrasing suggests that the assumption is an obvious one to make, and thus implies that anyone who disagrees with said assumption is an utter moron.

Also, it just sounds so pretentious it makes me grind my teeth.
posted by misha at 7:53 PM on July 1, 2011


"Well, people are traditionally pretentious, no?"

No. It really depends on how you define "people" and what subsect you're referring to. The people of a moderately healthy mining/fishing town don't tend to be pretentious; and traditionally, pretty much the reverse.

As I understand, the ",no?" is an invitation to disagree with a(n/ common) assumption.
posted by porpoise at 8:28 PM on July 1, 2011


I can't stand "gift" as a verb. Especially when used as a past tense verb: "I gifted x." Also, the phrase "deep discount" just sounds disgusting to me.
posted by mudlark at 8:35 PM on July 1, 2011


I continue to be astonished that anyone would use "open the kimono" to mean "reveal", and particularly that they would do so in a business setting. I'm equally surprised that no one else seems to mention it or be offended by it.
posted by cali at 9:10 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


This.
Really?
Um, no.
posted by chortly at 9:41 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


But what if you work for a kimono manufacturer?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:59 AM on July 2, 2011


Anything "popularised" by Charlie Sheen.
posted by cerulgalactus at 5:31 AM on July 2, 2011


I have never heard "open the kimono" before but you can be sure I'll be throwing that into casual conversation from now on.
posted by josher71 at 5:48 AM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


narrative
posted by republican at 9:20 AM on July 2, 2011


hipster
posted by nickyskye at 10:22 AM on July 2, 2011


too big to fail
posted by telstar at 11:05 AM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cooked to perfection.
posted by merelyglib at 3:41 PM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a text file somewhere on my computer where I log various marketing phrases that are crimes against intelligence.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:20 PM on July 2, 2011


Amazeballs.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:21 PM on July 2, 2011


Tasked.

Jesus, but this one sends me up the frikkin wall.
posted by ninazer0 at 10:13 PM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Touch base"

I work in a recruiting firm and while it is a fine place to work if I never heard that phrase again it would be too soon.
posted by athenasbanquet at 10:06 AM on July 3, 2011


"Touch base" sounds so much like the name for a sex act. "Did you get anywhere with Sally last night?" "Touched base."
posted by benito.strauss at 3:32 PM on July 3, 2011


LOL
posted by StarmanDXE at 10:26 AM on July 5, 2011


Docs.
posted by stinkycheese at 4:14 PM on July 5, 2011


"Touch base" sounds so much like the name for a sex act. "Did you get anywhere with Sally last night?" "Touched base."

You mean it's not one? Well then, what the hell have I been thinking all this time? Oh boy, have I got some 'splainin' to do around the office...
posted by saulgoodman at 12:33 PM on July 6, 2011


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