Worn-Out Words and Phrases: Resolving to Keep Writing Fresh in 2018



A new year once again draws near. For us grammarians and careful writers, the last 12 months have been another insightful and adventurous journey through the rules, styles, and techniques that help form concise and expressive American English.

Because each new year represents fresh resolve and beginnings, we thought we’d wrap up 2017 with new entries to our growing list of tired language we started this summer—Worn-Out Words and Phrases and Worn-Out Words and Phrases (Follow-up).

As loyalists to the written word, we aim to communicate with precision and originality. We also look to uphold the integrity of proper English usage. Language, like culture, passes through trends that invite new elements to shake up the norm. Some elements have the substance to last. Others become feeble and faded with use and warrant policing from those who can help put a stop to their loitering. Together, we can keep written English more vivid by weeding the stragglers out.

We welcome and appreciate feedback in helping to reinforce style and usage. The following entries into our worn-out words and phrases came from responses we received from our readers during the last few months.

Original Problem Beyond Overuse Alternatives in Careful Writing
on a daily/weekly basis
(prep. phrase)
wordy daily, weekly
going/moving forward
(adv. phrase)
inaccurate idiom meaning in continuance in the future, from here, from now on
most importantly
(adv. phrase)
incorrect usage as adverb most important (adj), above all
I feel like (verb clause) subjective insertion before a statement
(e.g., I feel like the book is too long)
(strike as unnecessary)
bad optics
(noun phrase)
“buzz” phrase pertaining to the public’s view of something through the media bad perception, bad impression
ubiquitous (adj) big-word-itis (a clinical condition) all over, all around, everywhere
proactively (adv) often redundant modification of an action in progress (e.g. proactively seeking) (strike as unnecessary)
just (adv) intrusive insertion of thought
(e.g., Why don’t we just go tomorrow?)
(strike as unnecessary)
right? (interrogative) highly catch-phrase in nature (meaning: Isn’t that true/correct? Isn’t that so?) (strike as unnecessary)

As always, we acknowledge some of these may remain common in speech, where they often reinforce comfort and a connection to what’s current. They also maintain a conversation’s natural flow, which doesn’t always provide the pauses for reflection and selection that writing affords.

On that note, let’s resolve to continue polishing English to a shine in 2018. By wiping away words and phrases that dull what should be vibrant writing, we can make the language an even brighter way to persuade, inform, and inspire.

Posted on Wednesday, December 20, 2017, at 9:33 am

4 Comments on Worn-Out Words and Phrases: Resolving to Keep Writing Fresh in 2018

4 responses to “Worn-Out Words and Phrases: Resolving to Keep Writing Fresh in 2018”

  1. Add the phase, “in order to” to the wordy list. Thank you for spreading good writing (and speech) habits.

  2. Steve Rosenber says:

    I hear another phrase that is not only being overused, but it wrong: “Pushing the envelope.” The phrase is really “Pushing the edge of the envelope.” As Tom Wolfe pointed out in “The Right Stuff,” the envelope refers to the atmosphere that surrounds the earth. After WWII, airplane manufacturers were building planes that could fly at extreme heights where the atmosphere is extremely thin making it difficult to support the aircraft. Test pilots tried flying the planes higher and higher into the upper regions of the atmosphere, thus pushing the edge of the envelope.

  3. Rebecca says:

    I believe correct grammar never goes out of style! Writing and speaking any language is an art form. Every sentence, with the right grammar, flows. And it doesn’t hurt your ears! I’m not an expert in grammar but I do know how to use a dictionary.

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