10 (more) words and phrases to purge from your copy

The author is back with even more verbal daggers that pierce readers’ hearts.

Several months ago, I wrote a blog post on the 10 words and phrases I don’t want to see in your copy.

And boy, did it open the floodgates to a slew of comments.

Put simply: There’s a bunch of other words and phrases out there that are driving us mad in the business world.

Here are 10 more words and phrases, with one honorable mention and the return of one word from my previous article. This word will. Not. Die.

1. At the end of the day. Technically, the end of the day is 11:59 p.m. If this timing does not apply to whatever you’re talking about, don’t use “at the end of the day.”

2. 24/7. “Check out our website 24/7… any day of the week!” It’s redundant to use this term to describe availability of a website.

3. Leading edge, leading provider, world leader, guru … Too often, businesses are leading providers, industry leading, or market leaders, according to nobody other than themselves. Before you use these superlatives to describe your ultra-fantastic business, products, services, or executive team, make sure you have proof—because you just may be asked for it someday.

4. Best practice. See above. Often, the use of “best practice” is unsubstantiated. According to whom, exactly?

5. Impactful. As one Urban Dictionary entry puts it, “impactful” is a “…non-existent word coined by corporate advertising, marketing, and business drones to make their work sound far more useful, exciting, and beneficial to humanity than it really is.” That’s right: “impactful” is not a real word.

6. Wary/weary/leery. Too often, I have heard people use “weary” when they meant “wary” or “leery.” Maybe they’re a little weary themselves: weary means tired, people! Wary and leery can often be used interchangeably—they both imply caution, hesitation, suspicion, and concern.

7. Really/very. These words rarely strengthen the word that follows them.

8. In order to. This is a space- and time-waster. Most often, the words “in order” are redundant.

9. Utilize. As a reader noted, “utilize” is “just another example of adding a ridiculous suffix to the end of a perfectly good word.” Another reader commented that “utilize” has “always struck me as a weak attempt to sound more formal or important.” The consensus: Use “use” instead.

10. Incentivize. This word appears to be growing in popularity—particularly among businesses with programs to retain and reward employees. According to dictionary.com, “incentivize” is an actual word (the horror!). But, like “utilize,” it’s one of those words that would be better replaced with a simpler word, such as “motivate.”

Honorable mention: Lookit

Thankfully, I’ve never seen this word in writing. But, I hear it in business meetings, which would be OK—if the workforce included 4-year-olds.

And back by popular demand

I have a huge, huge hatred for “leverage.” The word simply refuses to die. Please, I beg you, help me boycott “leverage” from all office communications. Ostracize your co-workers and managers who use it. What a happier place my world would be.

A version of this story first appeared on the author’s blog.


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