Some words to remove from your vocabulary

I haven’t updated my blacklist for a long time. But that’s ok. Because the head of one of America’s ailing media conglomerates has spent his time (that probably should have been used bailing out the company) writing a list of 119 words his employees are no longer allowed to use.

Here are some of them (and here are the rest).

  • “Flee” meaning “run away”
  • “Good” or “bad” news
  • “Laud” meaning “praise”
  • “Seek” meaning “look for”
  • “Some” meaning “about”
  • “Two to one margin” . . . “Two to one” is a ratio, not a margin. A margin is measured in points. It’s not a ratio.
  • “Yesterday” in a lead sentence
  • “Youth” meaning “child”
  • 5 a.m. in the morning
  • After the break
  • After these commercial messages
  • Bare naked
  • Behind bars
  • Behind closed doors
  • Behind the podium (you mean lecturn) [sic]
  • Best kept secret
  • Campaign trail
  • Clash with police
  • Close proximity
  • Complete surprise
  • Completely destroyed, completely abolished, completely finished or any other completely redundant use
  • Death toll
  • Definitely possible
  • Going forward
  • Gunman, especially lone gunman
  • In a surprise move
  • In harm’s way
  • In other news
  • In the wake of (unless it’s a boating story)
  • Incarcerated
  • Informed sources say . . .

So in summary, avoid redundancy and cliche. But what about you – what words do you think should be taken out the back and shot? I’d say anybody over the age of 35 saying “funky” – I do not think that word means what they think it means…


Gary Ware says:

My least favourite phrase is 'The people are in good heart.'
It is well loved in Presbyterian five-yearly congregational visitation reports.
Translated it usually means: 'No-one seems to have a firm grip on the Gospel; the place is dying on its knees, but at least they're not taking it out on each other.'
The only two times I would consider it permissible would be if a significant portion of the congregation has perished due to some sort of disease or they lost all their property to a natural disaster.
Other than that: no way.

AndrewFinden says:

What's the problem with 'laud' 'seek' and 'flee'? Or is it only for spoken news?