Posted by: Jack Henry | June 14, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Worn-Out Words and Phrases

The website is a great source for information about grammar and punctuation. I recently read an article on the site about worn-out words and phrases. Although we’ve covered many of these before, I want to share them with you today so that you can be sure to avoid them in your writing. Bear in mind that many of these are common in speech, and that’s fine because speech is more informal, but our goal is to write succinctly.

I’ve copied the list here. How many of these tired phrases do you sometimes use in your writing?

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
proactive (adj) 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)

The article didn’t mention jargon, but the editors beseech you to avoid it. While it may be familiar to you, it can cause confusion for many of the people who read your writing.

And on that topic, the following Dilbert comic strip (by Scott Adams) recently ran in the local paper:

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

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Symitar Documentation Services

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