Words We Don’t (Didn’t) Like

Arika Okrent:

What’s your don’t-like word? Mine is delimit.

Just as there is nothing certain in this world but death and taxes, there is nothing certain in language but that it will change, and that people will react badly. One of the changes people find most offensive is the spread of professional jargon that has been coined to replace simpler, clearer words we already have. Anyone up for some collaborative incentivizing going forward? No? Well, maybe one day your great-grandchildren will be. Here are 12 words that people once thought were horrible gobbledygook that nobody flinches at anymore.

[She lists:] contact, interview, optimism/pessimism, mortician, purist, reliable, antibody, electrocution, proposition, demote, balance, and donate.

Read the full text here: http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/155454#ixzz2EqQ6UKmJ
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  • DDF

    How about phrases we don’t like. No Flinching:

    … This “literally” is the most important sermon I will preach today. “On balance,” though, it is “in fact” the only sermon I am preaching today. “To be fair,” I must say that “at the end of the day” I do agree that it is “reasonable” for the pastor to preach on Sunday. I am, “arguably,” the one to whom my parishioners look to for teaching and inspiration. “In truth,” some of my leaders “just really” wish I would “think outside the box.” Last week one said, “It’s not like we’re asking too much”; Come on, pastor “this is not rocket science,” this preaching. … To all that, I gave a hearty: “Whatever.”

  • Pete Dayton


  • As a Canadian living in the UK, I’m constantly mocked for my “Americanisms”. My British friends generally don’t like to believe that many Americanisms are just older UK versions which never got modernized in their new home. I think of aluminum/aluminium and sidewalk/pavement. I’m sure there are others.

    I’ve coined two new words in the past couple of years. One, (sesquipedaphobic), is etymologically sound and the other is nonsense as far as roots go, (drowpastisation), but I’ve attached a meaning to it and it has stuck. It’s fun, even in a tiny context, to see how words catch on.

  • I guess I dislike any word which becomes noteworthy itself for no good reason, not really in the flow of what is being said. I don’t like to give examples, but anything which distracts from the point becomes a hindrance.

    I was complaining this morning about the annoying habit I’ve heard from otherwise good interviewees (is that word an annoyance?), the tendency to start paragraphs (at least) in what they’re saying with what usually seems to be a discombobulated (another annoying word?) “SO.” I usually am good at ignoring it, but this morning I let it get to me in what was an otherwise good interview.

  • Mike M


  • Mike M

    “Usage” is one of mine

  • P.

    “Gifted” as a verb
    “Incent” instead of motivate (Is “incent” even a word?)
    “Disrespect” as a verb (Makes me cringe!)

    My biggest pet peeve, though, is the over-use of the word “iconic.” It became popular with the photo of Obama and staff watching the raid to get Bin Laden, but now, it’s used everywhere. Someone, ban it, please!

  • Stephen W


  • Milton Pope

    “Mentee” is a logical construction (I almost said “construct”, but regained my sense), but we already have the word “protege”.

  • Barb

    Milton–I know–“Mentee” always sounds like a toothpaste flavor to me.

  • TriciaM

    I still choke on mentee too but haven’t come up with a better word for someone with whom a reading mentor works. The relationship is beyond that of tutor/pupil. All ideas welcome. Protoge is a bit highfalutin for my cohort.

    But one that I really like that’s not in the dictionary is “numeracy”. What did we say before numeracy?

  • Amanda B.

    The word “Remarkable” makes me laugh (and my boss uses it ALL THE TIME). It’s like saying, “Well, there sure is something to be said about that”, without ever saying what it is that could be said.