I’m Over It! (These Words Have Got to Go)

I love slang as much as the next person. As a frame of reference, slang instantly conveys humor, sarcasm, or solidarity. Just think about the meaning occupy has taken on recently, and the myriad ways it’s been applied. Pop culture (that is, the world we live in) is a rich minefield for slang—I particularly love tiger mom and fauxdashian. (I see those eyes rolling!)

I’m less crazy about jargon, although sometimes it can be mildly amusing—say, late on a Friday afternoon when your boss decides to drill down so he can get your buy-in on a project to reach out to opinion formers who demonstrate thought leadership in the blogosphere. (He’ll want you to circle back on Monday to share any light-bulb moments you had over the weekend.) Sigh.

I even like a good cliché. If you write fiction, cliché is actually important to your dialogue, because that’s how regular folks talk. And the fact is a perfectly good word or phrase became a cliché because … well, because it works. Sweet spot, for example. We’ve all got one. Somewhere.

But sometimes these words get on my very last nerve. Sometimes I just want to scream, “Stop! Stop! For the love of the lexicon, stop!” Take these, for example. (Please.) I’m over them.

actionable
amazing (I’ve written about this one.)
baby mama
bandwith (“Does he have the bandwidth to take that on?”)
brain dump (Seriously?)
buy-in
chillax
circle back
come alongside
drill down
epic
fail (And the ever popular epic fail.)
hopefully
light-bulb moment
man up
ninja (Like “he’s a rock star” only implies more talent.)
personal brand
reach out
road warrior
rock (Used as a verb: she’s rocking that bikini.)
share (It’s not a substitute for tell, people!)
take it off-line
take it on board
thankfully
the new … (The new normal, the new black, the new thirty …)
thought leader
toolbox
unpack it
viral (A cute cat video goes viral.)
visionary, vision-casting

I just complain about these things, but my friends at Michigan’s Lake Superior State University (go Lakers!) actually do something about it: they have an annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse, and General Uselessness. The 2012 list includes: amazing, baby bump, blowback, ginormous, man cave, occupy, pet parent, shared sacrifice, thank you in advance, the new normal, trickeration, win the future.

I bet you’ve got some words to add to this list too. Reach out! :)

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10 Comments

  1. April Line says:

    Love this, J!

    The one that bugs me is beyond, I mean, not when applied in its literal, prepositional sense. Like this: She was beyond ridiculous. Really?

    Sometimes, it goes a step farther: This is so far beyond ridiculous, it needs its own zip code. Or following that formula: So far beyond x, it ys.

    I think I am going to post today about garbage craft moves. I’ve got one brewing about subjunctive tense.

    xo!

  2. […] My friend Jamie’s blog today talks about slang and some popular slang terms she’s personally tired to death of.  That’s what got me thinking about craft, and what it is, and why so much contemporary genre fiction is so poorly crafted. *Haters, remember the rules about trolls.  No personal insults just because you disagree. […]

  3. Orla says:

    Ever notice how, when someone says or .. writes something that just.. flicks a switch with you and you think “YESSSS!! About time someone said it!”

    While I was reading it, one particular over – abused word came to mind, one that i hate hearing..

    Legend.

    He is a legend
    She is a legend
    You’re a legend.

    No no no no no!! He’s, she’s, you’re NOT a legend!

    Also hero. See above.

    Thank you for writing about this irksome craze, and thank you, for having such a wonderfully refreshing mind.

    • jamiechavez says:

      Thank you for commenting! I love hearing what the latest vernacular is across the pond. :) xox

  4. Laura says:

    Hot mess.

    And thanks for letting me get that off my chest. I confess, though, that I removed that one yesterday from my own manuscript. I deleted and then scanned the room to make sure no one had seen it. Gah!

  5. oldestgenxer says:

    This an older one, but it still bugs me. I despise the word “guesstimate.” You can guess, or you can estimate. You can’t do both. To estimate is to do a reasoned calculation using some simple math and rounding. To guess is to randomly pull an answer out of whichever is your favorite orifice. You must choose. But choose wisely.

  6. Anglo says:

    I raise you a tween. I also hate it when people use maven and guru in their job titles.
    I would also just like to get rid of Gangum Style being a thing.

    Oooh, also, let’s let the word “content” go the way of “viral.” Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t ask me to just throw up some content. Makes me feel like there’s not a lot of appreciation for writing.

  7. […] This one about word use gets a lot of attention, as does this one. I’ve also had little rants about amazing and smirk, about pronoun abuse, and many […]

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  1. […] My friend Jamie’s blog today talks about slang and some popular slang terms she’s personally tired to death of.  That’s what got me thinking about craft, and what it is, and why so much contemporary genre fiction is so poorly crafted. *Haters, remember the rules about trolls.  No personal insults just because you disagree. […]

  2. By Short Saturday: A Literary Agent Rants a Little on 14 December, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    […] This one about word use gets a lot of attention, as does this one. I’ve also had little rants about amazing and smirk, about pronoun abuse, and many […]