I enjoyed Timothy Egan’s recent column headlined “Words for the Dumpster” and PR Daily’s piece on the most overused words in press releases. Here’s my own dirty dozen of misused or overused words and phrases. What are your linguistic pet peeves?
1. Irregardless. It’s gaining some acceptance because it’s such a common mistake. But that’s not much of a reason. Please.
2. Totally destroyed. It either was or it wasn’t.
3. Utilize. Because “use” wasn’t available?
4. Ironic when describing a bummer or a drag or something that really isn’t ironic at all.
5. Emergency situation. Favored by TV reporters at apartments that hours ago were the site of a fire or shooting. An emergency is a situation.
6. Innovative. It’s probably not. Really.
7. At the end of the day.
8. It is what it is. The first song I ever wrote with a real songwriter is called “It Is What It Is.” I wrote the lyrics as an exercise, just to see what I could do in that format with a well-worn phrase. As such, it was fun, and the tune my partner wrote was easy to hum, so no regrets. That’s my excuse. Maybe everyone else has one, too.
9. 12 noon or 12 midnight. Redundant and repetitive.
10. Literally, as in, “I mean, there were a million people in line at the ATM – literally!”
11. Iconic. Old movie stars or rock singers used to be “legendary.” Then they became “iconic.” And now that word has filtered down to describe anyone of any note at all. Use sparingly. If at all.
12. Very unique or totally unique or one-of-the-most unique. … Whatever!
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