posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy
As readers and writers, I think we are more aware of words than most people. How many times have you been reading along and suddenly a word stops you cold because it doesn't seem to fit in the story? Or maybe the word is used incorrectly? Or, the same word has been repeated three or four times?
Yup, happens to me, too. And as a writer, I have to be careful of not doing any of those things in my own stories. This is where my critique partners and beta readers prove their value by spotting 'pet' words or phrases that I've overused. Two words I have a tendency to repeat are "that" and "just." One of my critique partners' pet word is "it." She once wrote a sentence with "it" used five times! YIKES! This is why we writers rely on revision.
Another thing that drives me to distraction is when I hear the same words and phrases repeated over and over by everyone around me. One such phrase that drove me bonkers back in the late 1990s was "don't go there." I swear I heard it at work a dozen times a day... every day! More recently, both the DH and I have developed a severe aversion to "at the end of the day."
Looks like Aunty is not the only one who would love to dump overused words. Recently, I ran across of list of "Banished Words" put together by the Lake Superior State University in Sault Saint Marie, Michigan. Back in 1975, the LSSU Public Relations Director and a few friends created "word banishment" and put together a list which they released on New Year's Day 1976. LSSU has released a new list of "Banished Words" every year since then. (If you want to see all the lists, go here http://www.lssu.edu/banished/.)
So here are a few of the words that made the banishment list for 2011:
VIRAL -- used to describe anything that has attracted a great deal of attention. Since when is a term for disease seen as popular or even positive?
EPIC -- used to describe common events. This is flat out incorrect. One commenter on the LSSU website said it perfectly, "... when the history books are written or updated and stories have been passed through the generations, the epic powder on the slopes during your last ski trip or your participation in last night's epic flash mob will probably not be included."
FAIL -- used as a noun or adjective meaning something less than perfect. The correct word is FAILURE. Fail is a verb.
FACEBOOK/GOOGLE -- used as verbs. Okay, I'll admit I'm guilty of sometimes saying, "Google it." But I haven't slipped so far as to say, "Facebook it, Danno!"
In case you were wondering (as I was) here are some of the Banished Words of 35 years ago in 1976:
Any of those being back memories?
Do you have any "pet" words that you use too often? What about words and phrases that are so overused they make you want to scream? Which words and phrases would you like to banish?