Tuesday, January 8, 2013 | By: Lynn

Words We Love to Hate

As a writer I've interviewed a variety of sources for magazine and newspaper articles. I've found that academics, people with higher education and who work in academia, consistently tend to sprinkle their conversation with the phrase, "sort of." I've teased to my husband that there must be a class that teaches how to insert the phrase frequently. It sort of annoys me, but I do it, too.

Apparently I'm not the only who gets annoyed by words. According to The Atlantic Wire it's a hot topic. One that prompted enough comments, tweets, and emails that the staff there decided it could a write dictionary, essentially, of despicable words.

According to the site, there are a variety of reasons that certain words raise our ire.

"There appear to be several categories that hate words tend to fall into: Words people hate the sound of; words people hate the meaning of; words widely considered to be or mean something gross or unpleasant; words that are overused or meaningless; and words that reflect something unflattering about the user, often that that person thinks much of him or herself."

One of the most hated words for 2012 was "arguably," arguably because it's essentially meaningless, some people say. As is "essentially," another hated word for 2012. A lot of people don't like the word "panties," and I'm one of them. I think it's absurd. I wrote an opinion piece for a publication many years ago when I felt particularly (another hated word) adamant that it demeaned women. "I do not wear panties!" I wrote. "I also do not wear sockies or shoesies. I'm a grown woman and I wear underwear." N-e-way…I digress, obviously—another nonessential word in a sentence that is hated by many.

So it would seem that picking the right words is really important to many of us, not just writers, though I tend to feel that as a writer and editor my radar is highly tuned to words and their assessment in some way. When someone uses the word "supposably" in a sentence, they lose me. I'm thinking about correcting them. "There is no "b" in supposedly," I want to yell. By the way, it's done enough that "supposably" got included in the list, as did "got." Whatever! Some people feel "got" is never necessary, nor is "whatever" when used with eye rolls.

I don’t want to do that in my writing, send a reader out of the story because I used a fancy word where I could have used something simple and direct. People say they hate that, for instance they listed "utilize" as hated because why not stick to "use?" I also don't want to overuse words, such as "like" or "awesome." People are paying attention to our word choices.

What words or phrases send you off into silent or not so silent rants?

5 comments:

Angela Adams said...

You got me thinking now...

RT Wolfe said...

...unless you're telling yourself to put on your big girl panties. LOL Very fun post, Lynn. My list of words includes that, just, simply, up and back. The first thing I do when I finish a manuscript is to do a search for these words. Funny. Hey, good luck with Dancing with Detective Danger. I sure liked it. :)
-R.T. Wolfe

Lynn said...

Thanks for sharing, R.T. Those are good words to watch out for. Pet peeves of mine, too.

Lynn said...

Angela, the list got me thinking, too! Thanks for sharing.

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