Times today about words and phrases that need to be retired.
With the last tick of 2013, let’s throw out the most annoying, overused
and abused words of the year. A few of these terms, “twerking” or “stay
classy,” die a natural death when someone like John McCain starts using
them — the aural equivalent of a comb-over. Others need a push.
Egan's list includes "artisan," "brand," "gluten-free," "whatever," "24/7," "end of the day," "world-class" and "best practices." He finishes the piece by saying (his emphasis):
A final thought: I’m as guilty as anyone in letting these banish-worthy
words get into print. This column is both artisan and gluten-free, an
extension of my brand in a 24/7 environment full of world-class
competitors. Whatever. At the end of the day, I’ll try to use best
practices and resolve to do better.
In that spirit, I renew an earlier objection to “literally.” It’s become the most overused of phony emphasis words, as in I went to the store, and they were out of kumquats — I mean, they were literally out of kumquats!
It's a good read, but I'll still use "artisan," "brand," "gluten-free," "whatever," "24/7," "end of the day" and "best practices." I'll continue to refrain from using "world-class" and "literally," though.*
While Egan blames Donald Trump for almost single-handedly running "world-class" into the ground, I would maintain that Ross Perot made it off-limits for me years ago. Not that I ever used the phrase in the first place, but anyone who uses it -- like Perot or Trump -- is clearly not "world-class."
As for "literally," my ex-sister-in-law used to use it constantly, as in Egan's example above. It seemed for a while there that everything was "literally" this or "literally" that for her. It drove me a little nuts (but not literally).
To Egan's list I'd like to add a few of my own (and I'm sure I'll think of a few more as soon as I hit "post"). The three biggest current offenders for me are "bizarre," "surreal," and "awesome." (Could we please find some synonyms for these?) And three that I will continue to resist are "dude" (not my generation), "proactive" (too business-schooly) and "think outside the box" (a definite giveaway that you have probably never thought in a creative way in your life).
P. S. I once heard a guy say that rather than be "reactive," he preferred to be "proactive." I wanted to slap him.
* I caught my mother using the phrase "7/11" the other day when she meant to say "24/7." Oh, well; she's 94.