Last year we waded into the weeds of worn-out words and phrases: the verbal components that appear fresh and assimilate well in language until their nature is revealed.
At first they might look just like the grass that surrounds them, but in time they disrupt communication with buzz words and catch phrases that impose on the lush lawn of expression.
An evolutionary entity, communication will always require invention, addition, and subtraction. However, it also still needs periodic purging of the hangers-on that compromise precision and originality. We can all contribute to more weed-free discourse by knowing and excluding worn-out words and phrases.
This subject has proven to be so relevant that we addressed it three times in 2017:
The list continues to grow as we remain on the lookout. We wish to thank the many readers who share their observations about language that has outlived or is outliving its welcome. The following are new entries gathered from reader correspondence so far in 2018.
|Worn-Out Word/Phrase||Problem Beyond Overuse||Alternatives in Careful Writing|
|all in (adj. phrase)||This phrase actually offers economy by shortening expressions such as “engaged” or “participating”; in this case, overuse is the main problem||(use more sparingly)|
|at this point in time
|wordy||now, currently, presently|
|each and every
|wordy; it double-dips into enumerating adjectives where one will suffice||each, every, all|
|trendy catch phrase meaning a new element or factor that notably changes an existing situation or activity||crossroad, twist, tiltpoint|
|give a shout/holler
|wordy, overly casual||alert, notify, contact|
|having said that
|expendable filler||(strike as unnecessary) or thus, therefore, accordingly|
|hope that helps
|(overuse is the main problem)||(use more sparingly)|
|I agree 100% [or greater amount] (verb clause)||wordy; potential tautology, as 100% is implicit in full agreement||I agree|
|It is what it is
|wordy||so be it|
|look (interj, e.g., Look, I already told you)||expletive meaning see here||(strike as unnecessary)|
|no problem/worries, not a problem
|overly casual||okay, sure, all right, you’re welcome|
|oftentimes (adv)||unnecessary length||often|
|over and over again
|wordy||often, frequently, repeatedly, continually|
|pushing the envelope
|elusive idiomatic imagery||testing boundaries, taking chances, pioneering|
|that’s what I’m talkin’ about (idiomatic clause)||wordy, overly casual||okay, I agree, that’s right/correct|
|time after time
|wordy||often, frequently, regularly, repeatedly, continually|
|whatever (expletive, e.g., You want me to work all weekend? Whatever!)||trendy and overly casual buzz word generally used in a dismissive sense to mean yeah, right; your comment is puzzling (or without merit)||(strike as unnecessary)|
|you know (interj, e.g., You know, we could do even better if we trained longer)||irrelevant insertion for emphasis||(strike as unnecessary)|
In sharing these additional worn-out words and phrases, we once again acknowledge that many will remain common and perhaps even useful in speech. Spoken English accepts overuse, redundancy, and casualness to suit interpersonal connection and comfort. It also establishes trust through greater simplicity and familiarity.
By studying and referring to the worn-out words and phrases identified thus far, we commit ourselves further to efficient writing. And as surely as language will go on evolving, the number of entries will continue to grow. United with you as careful writers, we welcome your suggestions for potential additions to future lists.
Posted on Tuesday, September 18, 2018, at 11:00 pm
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