Friday, January 10, 2014


Writers and editors like me tend to get hung up on certain phrases. We glom on to them and it’s tough to purge them from your writing and everyday speech.

Last year, I blogged about how hard we try to constantly reinvent our language, always searching to replace the stale tired words we use. And that’s not just journalists. That’s everyone.

I guess those “Words That Need to Be Banned” lists that show up everywhere around the turn of the calendar have me thinking about it again – because certain clichéd words and annoying expressions have been bugging me to death.

Remember when you were a kid and yelled SLUGBUG every time you saw a Volkswagen. That’s a bit how we are around here – except we yell CLICHÉ, and instead of punching a buddy in the arm we target trite copy with red pens.

Sometimes a good phrase gets incredibly overused. For example, one of last year’s words was fiscal cliff. I think 2014 may already have one – polar vortex.

Maybe I’m picky, but I feel bad actors is a phrase that’s been overused in the trucking community and will likely be around for a while. You hear it when FMCSA is talking about people in the trucking business who need to be booted out of the industry. And kick the can is another phrase that is really tired, but still gets used when we are writing about FMCSA and issues like entry-level driver training.

I’m glad we finally stopped saying someone got thrown under the bus. And it’s been a while since I heard anybody go deep in the weeds. Finally, the epic fail is fading from our professional vocabularies, as is the aha moment.

Sometimes, words that land on my banned list are not new at all, but are so annoying they earn a slot. Why do we have to keep using bastard words like ginormous and, the one I hate most of all, humongous?

I admit it goes beyond the craft of writing.

It matters not if you are writing because it’s your job or you are just conversing because you have a voice. It’s so easy to pick up on certain words or be a copycat when you hear one that’s trendy. You know how everyone starts yawning when one person is doing it? (Why is that anyway?) Some expressions just get stuck in your vocabulary.

Last year, I vowed to stamp out saying we have to put our big girl panties on when it’s time to take on a challenging or unpleasant task. Unfortunately, it’s still around and I seem to hear it even more. I cringe as I even write the phrase.

Even though I have huge disdain for the big girl panties – let me make this perfectly clear. My bad tops my 2014 list of banned words and expressions. What could be the reason we all started saying my bad! That phrase makes me want to knock the user’s head off.

And do we have to speak in Cheezburgerese? Amazeballs must go away forever, along with cray cray. What has happened to our command of language? Is our species devolving?

And while we are at it, can we drop that smug little jes’ sayin’ at the end of every statement? Why do we feel compelled to add that?

I think texting and Facebooking, tweeting, etc. have ruined our communication skills.

Like LOL? For the past couple of years, every text, every message seems to end with LOL.

“Still waiting to get unloaded, LOL!”

Or the classic:

“I’m going into surgery for triple bypass – wish me luck! LOL.”

I use the LOL myself. However – and be my witness – I am vowing to stop. (Why does this sentence somehow tempt me to add an LOL at the end?)