Words to Avoid for better Speaking and Writing

The December 14 issue of the Business Common Sense newsletter includes the results of a survey that identifies the most irritating words and phrases.

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the Plain English Campaign surveyed 5,000 supporters in 70 countries. They voted on the most irritating phrase in the language. The results:

  • 1. At the end of the day/li>
  • 2. At this moment in time
  • 3. the constant use of like as if it were a form of punctuation
  • 4. With all due respect

From the Plain English press release of 23 March 2004:

Spokesman John Lister said over-used phrases were a barrier to communication. “When readers or listeners come across these tired expressions, they start tuning out and completely miss the message – assuming there is one! Using these terms in daily business is about professional as wearing a novelty tie or having a wacky ringtone on your phone.

“George Orwell’s advice from 1946 is still worth following: ‘Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.’”

Other nominations from the Plain English survey:

  • 24/7
  • absolutely
  • address the issue
  • around (in place of “about”)
  • awesome
  • ballpark figure
  • basically
  • basis (“on a weekly basis” in place of “weekly” and so on)
  • bear with me
  • between a rock and a hard place
  • blue sky (thinking)
  • boggles the mind
  • bottom line
  • crack troops
  • diamond geezer
  • epicenter (used incorrectly)
  • glass half full (or half empty)
  • going forward
  • I hear what you’re saying …
  • in terms of …
  • it’s not rocket science
  • literally
  • move the goal-posts
  • ongoing
  • prioritize
  • pushing the envelope
  • singing from the same hymn sheet
  • the fact of the matter is
  • thinking outside the box
  • to be honest/to be honest with you/to be perfectly honest
  • touch base
  • up to (in place of “about”)
  • value-added (in general use)

Now please bear with me as I push the envelope to think outside the box, so that going forward we can touch base about the bottom line. At the end of the day the fact of the matter is that it’s not rocket science. 😉

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"True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less." -- C. S. Lewis