13 annoying verbs

If you want your corporate PR copy to sound bloated, stilted and riddled with jargon, sprinkle these terms throughout your writing.


No matter how you try to avoid them, annoying verbs surround us.

Maybe you overhear someone use them on the train or while you’re waiting in line to buy coffee. You might have seen them in an online pop-up ad that you can’t close fast enough. Perhaps your kids use them to purposefully annoy you.

Here are a few verbs that can drive corporate communicators crazy:

1. Conversate: Is there something wrong with using “talk” or “converse”?

Questionable: “Maybe we should try to conversate with Grayson instead of sending an email.”

Better: “Maybe we should talk to Grayson instead of sending an email.”

2. Endeavor: When used in corporate communications, “endeavor” can seem weak and unnecessary.

Questionable: “ At Noddles Company, we endeavor to meet our customers’ needs.”

Better: “At Noddles Company, we work hard to meet our customers’ needs.”

3. Empower: Forbes referred to this word as “most condescending transitive verb ever.”

“Braden has empowered us to choose from the two vendors on the approved vendor list.”

4. Guestimate: An estimate is an educated guess, so why combine these words?

Instead, use:

“Please estimate how long it will take to edit John’s bio.”

“Please guess how long it will take to edit John bio.”

5. Impact: Most dictionaries list “to affect or influence” as a definition of the verb “impact,” though some state it is not preferred usage. Bryan Garner, editor of Black’s Law Dictionary, theorizes that this pseudo-verb became popular because most people don’t understand the difference between “effect” and “affect.”

6. Implement: Would you rather listen to a presentation where the speaker uses “implement” with every bullet point or go to the dentist and have a cavity filled?

Use “start” or “began” instead:

Questionable: “We implemented the new discount program in July.”

Better: “We started the discount program in July.”

7. Leverage: This word works similarly to an experiment with Pavlov and his dogs: I hear the word “leverage” and immediately tune out.

“I think you should leverage your core competencies when applying for your dream job that was recently posted on LinkedIn.”

8. Moisten: “Moist” is one of the most unpleasant words in the English language. “Moisten” is not far behind.

“Moisten the sponge before you wash the dishes.”

9. Peel: This verb means, “to move, separate (off or away),” but it can be annoying when used to talk about a person:

“I need Sam to peel off from the main group and give out pamphlets at the other end of the mall.”

[FREE DOWNLOAD: 10 punctuation essentials]

10. PowerPoint: This is Microsoft’s presentation software, not a verb.

Questionable: “Send me an outline, and I’ll PowerPoint it for you.”

Better: “Send me an outline, and I’ll create a PowerPoint presentation for you.”

11. Promulgate: “Publish” or “issue” are better choices, and using them will make you sound less like a first-year associate at a law firm.

“The new rules have been promulgated in the HR Handbook.”

12. Utilize: Dump the jargon and replace this term with “use.” If you still think “utilize” sounds better, consider this sentence:

“Utilize the Force, Luke.”

13. Vlog: A combination of “video” and “blog,” this word sounds odd and slightly pretentious.

“I’m not sure how to vlog, but Jesse promised to show me how to create content for YouTube.”

How about you, PR Daily readers? Which verbs make you crazy?

A long-time contributor to PR Daily, Laura Hale Brockway is a writer and editor from Austin, Texas. Read more of her work at impertinentremarks.

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