12 Annoying Words and Phrases

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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5 thoughts on “12 Annoying Words and Phrases

  1. Morgan Richards

    Applause for Jay Croft’s 12 annoying words. I have to deal with utilize everyday and I continue to fight the good fight against it. Semantic manna from heaven are you! Communicators in my life, check this blog out.

  2. Larry Goddard

    Hello, although some of the comments were apropos I found a couple of them a bit off base.

    #4 12 noon or 12 midnight. If you are talking about noon or midnight then it is redundant. But if you are giving a “time” then 12 noon or midnight is the only way to differentiate them. Much worse is to say 12AM or 12 PM because that is completely indecipherable. Does 12 AM come just before 12:01 AM or just after 11:59AM?

    #10 Utilize. I agree that it more often than not simply a substitution for “use”. However there is a definite distinction that means that one can find a profitable or practical use for something. “Use” doesn’t necessarily mean that.

    Similarly for #11 “Totally Destroyed” One definition of “destroyed” is to render it unusable for what it was intended. However, parts or subsections could actually be functional… hence not “totally destroyed”.

    My $0.02,

    Larry Goddard

    1. Jay Croft Post author

      Hi, Larry! Thanks for writing. You raise some good points. We all have our little pet peeves, I suppose. Hope you’re enjoying your weekend. I’m so glad you commented on my blog.

  3. Pingback: ‘Everybody Writes’ in the Content Age | StoryCroft

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