Thursday, May 04, 2006

Dodge Word

I love words. They're my art, my business, and my pleasure. Given my devotion to putting them on paper, arranging them, and in some cases, inventing them, I'd love them all, right?


There are words I can't stand. They're acid to the eyes. Icepicks to the ears. They crawl under my skin, the place where extemporaneously always slithers, or up the back of my skull, the way chiaroscuro invariably goes.

Over-familiarity usually breeds contempt. At one point a couple of years back every freaking lit-head was using chiaroscuro compulsively, like it was some elitist word mason's secret handshake into the snotty vocabulary club. After months and months of being battered with the damn word, I thought I would require professional treatment if I read it one more time.

Others are inexplicable, but still have the same effect. Take prolixity and signatory, add an interstitial dash of schadenfreude, and please: oh, God, please, top it all off with a nice big honking zeitgeist and you'll have me breaking out in hives (bonus annoyance points if you use any of these as verbs.)

I can probably give a therapist a lifetime of work figuring out why certain words bug the hell out of me, but the fact remains that they do and I'm pretty sure that they always will. So I dodge them. Obsessively. All I have to see is the first few letters of a hated word and I know it's coming and I am out of there.

I can be just as annoying, too. I'm an unconscious repeater. Count how many times I've used terrific great or a lot in a single blog post and you'll get the picture. To police myself, I try to be aware when I repeat words that annoy my friends and blog pals, and substitute something else for them when I can. Zornhau probably hasn't noticed, but I have tried very hard not to use Oh, well on the blog ever since he mentioned that he hates that phrase. My friends Rob and Jess have forbidden me to use fascinating more than once a year as apparently I was using it so much I was starting to sound like Mr. Spock.

What are some words you'd rather dodge than fight?


  1. 'Momentarily' (As in - we'll be with you momentarily)

    Correct or not, I just want to scream when I hear/read it.

    Other hates: they're (or there) for their, it's for its and vice versa on both. Oh, and emails from the school of SMS, which die by lethal injection.

  2. Anonymous1:49 AM

    What do you have against a German? Don't be a dummkopf. Revel in your Freudian slips, type out your bildunsroman, dodge the blitskrieg, and then your gestalt will be far more gemutlich.

    Words that I hate? Ironic, because it is often abused. Thusly. Raven. Emerald. Jade. Manhood. Or maidenhood, to be fair. I've been reading a lot of bad porn lately.

  3. Anonymous2:09 AM

    I know they're generally accepted usages, and I know I can sometimes be old-school...

    But irregardless just drives me up a freaking WALL. Fingernails on a chalkboard, I tell you.

    And snuck. Yes, I know, everyone uses it. I have no excuses. I simply cringe.

  4. Rebecca reminded me of the word 'ironical'. Ewww! Two-times instead of twice, any words that are spelt incorrectly, in fact, but especially the abbreviated texts on message boards, blogs, anywhere in the public domain. SMS has a hell of lot to answer for!

  5. I don't remember commenting on "Oh well"! It's true I'm not fan of white noise/padding phrases. I hate postings speckled with "hey-ho" and "LOL".

    What words do I avoid? In my writing, anything non-Anglo Saxon unless it's a well established action word like "impact".

    Big, latinate words tend to tell no show.

  6. I personally can't stand 'myriad' - it seems to one of those words people use a lot when they don't know how to write.

    Nice word I picked up recently: faramouche (a person who appears unfriendly because they are shy).

  7. Anonymous7:01 AM

    Oops! Did my comment on the SOILS post spark this one? Had no idea how you felt about "extemporaneously." My bad.

    I know there are words that I don't particularly like, but I can't think of what they are. I'm more likely to remember the words that I relish saying out loud, like luculent, perspicacity, or specificity. They're just fun. :) (Not necessarily good in writing, but fun to say out loud.)


  8. Anonymous7:01 AM

    Some words that make me want to hurl . . .

    Impacted (teeth or head against wall?)

    ViAg&rA (and all it's "myriad" forms)

    Intercourse (where do I sign up for this one?)

    LOL (did you mean Lal, Data's offspring?)




  9. Generally




  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. Interestingly

    I put a tag cloud on my blog and was mortified to see "actually" come up as one of the terms. Also "because" but spelt wrong (now I always use spell check).

    Anyone else want to subject themselves/their blog to the tag cloud challenge? (one site where you can get one free is zoomclouds but there are others).

    (this comment has now been spell-checked!)

  12. Paradigm, incentivise (and *any* of the business-speak drivel) and actually (in the begining of a sentence in conversation--means the speaker is contradicting you but is passive aggressive about it).

  13. Anonymous8:55 AM

    Woken makes me cringe.

    "In other words" makes me wonder why you think I didn't understand it the first time.

    "Don't you agree?" guarantees I will say (or think) "No, I don't."


  14. "insightful"


  15. Hurriedly.

    I just cannot make my mental tongue wrap around that word. And I don't know that I've ever, in my entire close-to-forty years of life, heard someone use that word in spoken conversation. I only see it written.

    Also, not big on glided. I know it's grammatically correct, but I always think it should be glid although I know this is not even a word at all.

  16. "In essence" and "essentially" are two that I hate. There are others. I could go on and on.

  17. Anonymous10:28 AM


    Argh! What's wrong with plain old 'use'?

  18. Anonymous11:02 AM

    I don't even know what prolixity means!

  19. Jumping over the fence, he ran across the meadow.

    I really like David Gemmell's books, but his editor should shake him until he stops the misuse of those poor -ings.

    In German, it's the use of a dativ where a genitiv is required, and main clause syntax in sentences that should have subordinate clause syntax. They get that one wrong in the news all the time. Regardless all the jokes about German verbs, sometimes they do belong at the end of a sentence. :)

  20. "Impact" used as a verb. "We want to see how this situation will impact the outcome."

    "Key" used as an adjective. "How it impacts the outcome will be key."

    Newsspeak, bureaucratese, medicaljargonzart, and other intentional attempts to make more words mean less, and to obscure meaning behind noise, all equally piss me off.

  21. Oh, yes. And PC-language-crapification, wherein perfectly good swear words are reclaimed, perfectly good adjectives (fat, skinny, stupid) are reviled, and the Thought Police attempt to make some thoughts impossible by scribbling over the meanings of words they don't like in the hopes that people will forget what those words used to mean, and become incapable of thinking the thoughts those words used to represent. Fuck them.

    Or perhaps we're reclaiming the word 'fuck,' too.

    Sorry, Sheila. You hit a nerve with this question.

  22. I have not hate in me. ;) I have words I would rather replace with other words, and often do so in my head while reading and coming across said word.

    And sometimes it depends on who is saying them. Women who say certain man words gets on my nerves. And how can a man be sexy saying girly words?

  23. torrid & carnal. don't know why, just don't like them. There are probably other ones but those are the big ones.

    Words tend to amuse me more than irritate me... especially names. Wooster, Ohio... some sort of fish called a wahu ~pronounced wa-hoo. i hear words like that or read them and I start snickering and once more, I've shown the DH just how odd I am.

    i think certain descriptions annoy me more than single words.

  24. Oh this is fun! I hate the word "doable." It looks like it should read doh-able to me and I hate that. I don't mind it spoken, but I hate to see it spelled in all its rotten glory.

    Imagine my chagrin the day I had to use it in a paper and it really was the only word that fit. Just about pulled my hair out. :)

    Thanks for the link, btw. :)

  25. schadenfreude

    Don't see the musical Avenue Q. There's a whole song by that name. *g*

  26. Anonymous1:35 PM


  27. I'm with Holly--impact used as a verb always makes me nuts. I also dislike the phrase "a savings."

  28. Anonymous1:55 PM

    I dislike any dishonest or overly misused words and phrases - for example... The answer I hear over and over to the question, "how are you?" gets this same insticted response all the time whether it's accurate or not - "I'm good" The same goes for "I love you" instincted response, often untrue - "I love you too" Not always... but one can tell. Actually, I can go on and on with words and phrases that make me cringe.

  29. Anonymous1:58 PM

    Argh, that was suppose to be "instinctive" not "instincted"... My fingers have been going a different direction than my mind lately.

  30. I can think of all sorts of words I love but not any I hate. There is a phrase I've seen frequently that annoys me, but that's a phrase, not a single word.

  31. Anonymous4:42 PM

    Oh, I can rant and froth about "Succulent" and "Luxuriate" (I posted a livejournal entry on those earlier this year to get it out of my system)

    The sound of "succulent" just sets me teeth on edge, like fingernails on a chalkboard. And it's used oddly, so often...I really don't want to see a description of someones "succulent buttocks" yes, that book became airborne.

    And I have a special loathing for "luxuriate" used once, it's okay, but if I see it at the start of a novel, I'm suspicious of the author afterwards, which isn't good for the suspension of disbelief.

    Thanks for the topic, Sheila

  32. Anonymous4:44 PM

    When used at the beginning of a sentence in conversation I dislike the words honestly or truthfully. Should I take it to mean that everything else the person said was a lie? Although, I admit I’ve used both exactly the way I dislike hearing them. I also cannot abide the word irregardless.

  33. Anonymous6:28 PM

    At one point a couple of years back every freaking lit-head was using chiaroscuro compulsively, like it was some elitist word mason's secret handshake into the snotty vocabulary club. After months and months of being battered with the damn word, I thought I would require professional treatment if I read it one more time. Oh, how this paragraph brought me back - to a rush of RAGE at the repeated sight of the word "liminal".

    Also, limn and hegemony. Hegemony was the word every freshman had to use twice a day my freshman year, but hey - freshmen. Limn and liminal, however, were required five times an article for all the lit crit reading. ALL of it. WHY, LORD, WHY?

  34. Cackles. There's far too much of it going on in romance loops. I have visions of witches hunched over keyboards. It's driving me crazy!

  35. In my last job, the word was "instantiate." Now that I'm only working with mere mortals (PhDs vice egomaniacal techno-whizzes--yes, there's some sarcasm intended), I don't hear that word as often.

    A phrase: "To be honest,...." (What? You're lying to me when you don't preface your statement with this phrase?)

    "ideal" when "idea" is intended (and any other example of a similar mistake/regionalism)

    Synonym abuse of any kind (their/there/they're; too/to/two; etc)

    And a personal pet peeve: "That" abuse (using it when it isn't needed, but I've learned to skip it when I read and it doesn't need to be there--especially for friends who have strong feelings about keeping "that"s in their work; friends are worth more than "that")

    This may be worth its own post.

  36. I heartily dislike "tour de force," especially when part of a review.

  37. Double-entendre, because I just have to say it with a rusty french accent and nobody knows what I just said.

  38. I'm happy to report that most of these words that you dodge are words I've not only never used, but never heard of. Maybe ignorance IS bliss...

  39. Anonymous1:49 AM

    Oh, this looks like a great thread. Something to enjoy while drinking several cups of coffee. I'll have to come back when my eyelids don't way a ton.

    I, too, like zeitgeist. IIRC, I once wrote a post entitled, "porking the zeitgeist."

    I think I've sounded off (here, in fact) on how much I hated the second line from Stephen King's Dark Tower book -- "the desert was the apotheosis of deserts." Maybe Mr. King throws words like that around, but not me. It's so not part of my weltanschauung.

  40. Anonymous9:02 AM

    Doug, you curmudgeon, you. In the entire series of seven books and Lord knows how many thousand pages, I remember seeing "apotheosis" once, and apparently it appears in one other, connected novel (a line about how, in another world, the last gunslinger slept under the stars in the apotheosis of all deserts), and it seems to me he was making fun of his youthful, show-off word choice there.

    Now, words that I hate.

    "orientate" -- I know it's valid, but I just want to grab someone by the collar, give 'em a good shake, and yell, "The word you want is orient!"

    "unthaw" -- what, like to freeze?

    "irregardless" -- "├ža gratte sur les nerfs"

    When people, speaking English, insist on pronouncing "homage" in the French manner, ie, "an omahzhe". The word has a pronunciation in English, and it sound pretentious to me to hear it in the French style unless you're speaking the rest of the sentence in French too.

    Oh, and it bugs me when anyone says "an history". Certain British people can get away with this, but it's a bit of a pet peeve.

    Ok, I think I'm done ranting.

  41. Anonymous1:26 PM

    Ah, you mean homage, to rhyme with fromage?

    Irregardless: I remember in high school reading that irregardless is 'a meaningless verbal bastard.'

    As for 'apotheosis': it's not so much that he would use the word, but (A) he used it in the 2nd sentence of the book, and (B) he regarded his words as so inviolate that he didn't change that one when he published (re-published?) the book. Excise that word! Excise that whole sentence -- it's unnecessary. Whatever happened to cutting unnecessary words, sentences, paragraphs, scenes, chapters?

  42. Anonymous3:48 PM

    Myself, I find a lot more of the current slang-y words most repulsive. "Hottie" makes me want to throw things at the dimwit who thought that was an adequate description of an attractive man. As does describing said attractive creature as "yummy."
    And while I love the Trace Adkins song (though I have no idea why. It truly is awful.) "Badonkadonk" is like sandpaper to my eardrums.
    "Athleticism" and pronouncing "athlete" as "ath-uh-lete" is bad, too.
    And of course, anything that ever comes out of a rapper's mouth kills me. Cutesy respellings (my local radio station's slogan is "Spell 'country' with a K" -- argh) and replacing "s" with "z" in plurals. Double ARGH!

  43. Anonymous6:27 PM

    Bizarrely, I just went from here to the Old New Thing, where "chiaroscuro" was used as an example of a word that's hard to spell.

    I guess it must be some kind of zeitgeist.

  44. Anonymous8:54 PM

    The "zeitgeist" comments reminded me of one of my favourite word usages I've seen on the internet (ps, I don't care for the term "intarweb", but I'll cop to having used it in MSN chats with a cow-orker). There's a network of sites that start with 43, like, and . The idea is that you make a list of places / people / things you want to go / see / do in your lifetime. There's a link on each one that's kind of a "tag cloud" link.

    On 43things, it's labeled "zeitgeist".
    On 43places, it's labeled "wanderlust".
    And on 43people, to maintain the German ubercoolitude, it's called "Hasselhoff". I nearly spit up Coke, laughing, when I saw that one.

  45. Anonymous6:51 AM

    Interdigitated! (Why can't they just hold hands?)



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