Wednesday, January 02, 2008

weekly writing coach: ban these words

Now in its fourth decade, Lake superior State University's annual List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness has been issued. It's up to your editor to decide whether these choice gems are off your personal writing list, but it's worth noting the patterns in this year's list:

  • Disaster terms, including decimate, under the bus, perfect storm, post-9/11, and Black Friday. Apocalyptic hyperbole would seem to be so 2007.
  • Overused phrases, such as it is what it is, back in the day, and X is the new Y (as in, "pink is the new black"). The list authors include commentswith examplesof these trite phrases taken to the extreme--for example, using "back in the day" in a sentence about Blackberries.
  • Vague and overused adjectives, including emotional, random, sweet, and organic. Since your coach wants you to cut back on your adjectives, we can hardly disagree with this point.
  • Vague and awkward verbs, such as pop, give back, surge, author/authored, and wordsmith/wordsmithing. If you have authored or wordsmithed any of these, please stop, for reasons we hope are obvious.
  • Overworked nouns and gerunds, such as waterboarding and webinar.
You can add your comments to the list here, and the list authors say that you're allowed once more to use the word truthiness, banned in 2007, but restored as a humanitarian gesture.

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