CreativityEngaging Culture

Words We Need to Retire

I was thinking recently that we should retire the word “authentic” from our vocabulary. It’s just so over-used. Then, after a second thought, I wondered how many words we need to retire from our blog posts, articles, sermons, lectures, conversations, and more.  Even phrases like “I need to wrap my head around this” have hit retirement age.  At any rate, when I asked the question about what other words should be dropped, I got a flood of responses on Twitter.  Here’s a few my brilliant followers suggested:

Epic, as in “epic generation”
…and a few more.

It’s not that these are bad words, but when we overuse a word, it starts to lose its meaning. Keep on the alert. Let’s sharpen the language by using the right word, instead of the popular word.

Any other suggestions?

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  1. How about “amazing”. If you watch Extreme Makeover: Home Edition you’ll see what I mean. This is likely the most overused word on tv today.

  2. Absolutely & incredible. Though frequently used, the first is almost never true. And the latter’s overuse often makes it “non credible”.

  3. I remember many years ago if I told a particular boss I had a problem, he would practically scream back at me “No, you have an opportunity!” – at which point I practically lost the will to live…

    Anyway, my own pet hate is the use of the word “team”, unless with reference to a sports team. The word has been used to imply a responsibility beyond one’s duties as an employee when expressions like “you’re letting the team down” are used to make people feel bad about leaving work on time to deal with other important commitments.

    In my own department I have banned the use of the t-word, along with several other bits of corporate-speak nonsense such “think outside the box”, “going forward” (as opposed to backwards?) and so on. The rot must be stemmed, and I am drawing a line in the sand. This far and no further!

  4. Love this list.

    Literally (especially when one is speaking figuratively)

    Can we expand this to phrases? I nominate:

    Think outside the box (does anyone think inside the box?)
    Move it forward (as opposed to backward?)

  5. Words are consumable like food but they have a “shelf life,” and should have a “use by this date,” sticker attached to them.  Or a better metaphor – words are like clothes and shoes – they wear out over time.  In the 18th century, the word “gentleman” had a specific meaning attached to the peerage of the UK.  It has since devolved to mean a “nice guy.”  Current words/phrases in the meaningless mode – being “on the same page.” Or “world class.”

  6. Awesome!! It really annoys me how flipping awesome everything is! That service, worship, hair cut, hamburger, tall skinny whipless Americano with wings is just totally awesome!! 

  7. I was tired of “unpack” the second time I heard it.  What are we, the maids?  Do we have to unpack for people?

    “Wallah” — it’s “voila”, people!  The “v” is not silent.  And I’m tired of “voila”, too.

    Infuse, infused, infusion, fusion — I hear these used but almost never in a relevant, real, dynamic or sustainable way.

  8. I have an unofficial campaign to reserve the word “awesome” for the Lord. I was once asked by a waiter at a restaurant how many there would be for lunch. I said, “Three.”  His reply…”Awesome!” I shudder to think what would have happened if we had had four.

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