Horrible Words!

What drives you?

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Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
A while ago, I posted a thread about unpopular words, after 'moist' was voted the least-liked word in the English language.

One word that's come into common usage in recent years, which irritates some people, is 'ongoing.' I think it's replaced 'continuing' because it sounds more proactive—a mini example of spin—as the speaker or writer is 'on' something that's 'going' somewhere...whereas 'continuing' implies that something is dragging on, with no end in sight.

Euphemisms can be used politely to spare people's feelings or diplomatically to obscure the true ghastly meaning, which is public relations for governments. As writer and critic Isaac Goldberg observed: "Diplomacy is to say and do the nastiest things in the nicest way."

Thus, we get odious terms like 'collateral damage' and 'friendly fire' to denote people killed unintentionally in war zones. These days, those who are meant to be targetted aren't killed, they're 'neutralised.'

Word choice is crucial for writers, to create the right feeling. It's sometimes tempting to use posh words, that prove how vast our vocabulary is, but often a simple choice carries more impact. However, giving your characters linguistic quirks, through their use of slang, technical or fancy words describes them as much as listing their physique and clothing.

10 Tips to Help You Find the Perfect Word

When reading, I've become alert to the author or journalist's word choice. Yesterday, I came across what looked like a horrid way to describe pumping water from a flooded mine, that I thought must be made up. It was in a Cornish newspaper report about plans to reactivate an abandoned tin mine called South Crofty. They intend to 'dewater' the mine. That's a horrid way of saying drain, but to my surprise, it's a long-established term:

Dewatering - Wikipedia

I still don't like it as a word, and it had me wondering if adding 'de' to other words would work—could it be said that a medic who revived a drowning victim had 'dedeaded' them? If I threw up after eating a meal, have I deeated it? :rolleyes:

Are there any words or expressions that aggravate you?


Well, the word awesome used to be one of my favourites, until it became used to mean 'nice' or 'excellent'. I loved the idea of a word that expressed the inspiration of such an intense feeling as awe--it was a big and meaningful word. Now it's a little flat word that means nothing.
Well, the word awesome used to be one of my favourites, until it became used to mean 'nice' or 'excellent'. I loved the idea of a word that expressed the inspiration of such an intense feeling as awe--it was a big and meaningful word. Now it's a little flat word that means nothing.
I agree with you Robinne. I used to love saying something was awfully wonderful, or awfully good because it reminded me something was "full of awe" and thought through the years the e was dropped, without of course realizing I was in fact making up oxymoron phrases, because "awfully" in effect can mean "dreadful".
Compute Awe


Designed a World in RAM and ROM​

The Programme’s called Till Kingdom Come

No viruses have crashed it yet​

Designed by TheDevil@Helldotnet​

Old Nick the Hacker means to win​

So far he’s failed; we’re still plugged in​

And hear the God-computer hum​

The universal sound of ‘Om’​

Creation real and unpretending​

In countless files with files still pending​

From here to nebulas most far​

From single cell to giant star​

For all a life from birth to death​

And in-between its every breath​

Our highest inspiration​

And spirit’s destination​

The ROM His Universal Laws​

The RAM means; choices, chances, flaws​

And Life that cannot be destroyed​

Its bits and bytes just re-deployed​

In awe we stand, in hope we pray​

The Programme runs till Judgement Day.​

Katie-Ellen Hazeldine,
The Literary Review May 2003.
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I hate fake-friendly business jargon such as 'we're reaching out to you' and redundancies like 'going forward'. When reading, 'suddenly' drives me to distraction if it's overused. It's redundant nine times out of ten.
Ghod, I wish there was a LIKE A LOT button for this! I find the spread of 'reaching out' really hard to deal with, now that some of the people who use it are better than that.
When I call customer service I say this:

"There's another outage in my area. I'd like a credit for the full day. Please issue the credit and give me the dollar amount. I have no interest in anything else."

If they still want to talk about what self-service apps I can install in the hopes that one day I won't ever go to the trouble of calling--not to mention making the employee's job obsolete--and if they still want to try and sell me something.... Or, if they continue to tell me they're sorry or understand my inconvenience, I say this....

"Please don't try to build rapport with me. I am not interested. Don't sell me something, don't try and educate me about my services, and don't try and relate to me. I've asked you to do one thing. I only want that one thing. If you understand, please say yes."

God help the person who still wants to tell me how to log into xfinity.com during an outage.

Or... the person who doesn't understand that the only correct answer to the above inquiry is YES.

No. I am not joking.

Yes. I know I am their worst nightmare.

I have my reasons.

Honestly, I'm saving them more trouble than they would imagine.
I dislike the way stars and celebrities are described as "rocking" an item of clothing. It's an extension of another silly phrase to "rock up" somewhere.

"Flaunting" gets overused, usually inaccurately. If someone is flaunting themselves or something they own, they're doing so in an ostentatious way to attract attention. A film star sunbathing on a private beach wearing a bikini, unaware of a paparazzo with a telephoto lens 400 yards away, isn't "flaunting her considerable assets." The prurient and judgemental Daily Mail do this a lot, pretending to be disapproving of some bimbo flashing her boobs, while displaying her flesh for the delectation of their readers.

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What drives you?