Words and Phrases That Suck


“the modern day”—Impossible to use in a sentence without sounding like a pompous ass.

“delved into”—Ew.

“dip into”—Also ew.

“sample”—Do you ever sometimes get mental pictures associated with a word? Not, like, sensible word-association, but an image that corresponds with the shape or sound of the letters? “Sample” looks like Uriah Heep to me. That same open-handed cringe.

“well written”—This is meaningless. It’s literally just code for “something I like”.

“plumping for”—Stop. Plumping is for pillows and partridges and bosoms. That’s it.

“truly believe”—Any verb or adjective preceded by “truly”, actually. It is the most craven of modifiers.

“snippet”—Too twee by half.

“chunkster”—Sounds like frat lingo for “hurricane of vomit”. Not even remotely cute.

“brilliant”—See “well written”, above. If it doesn’t actually shine with the light of the sun, or like the facets of a diamond, I don’t wish to hear it described thus.

“thusly”—Apropos of using the word “thus”, above. “Thusly” isn’t a fucking word, cut it out.

“sneak peek”—Yet more ew. This is the verbal equivalent of the weird old-fashioned drawing on the Coppertone bottle where the dog is pulling the little girl’s underwear down and you’re like…the Broadcasting Standards Agency is okay with this?

“sneak peak”—Peaks can’t sneak. That is kind of the point of them. Next.

“peeved”—Goes into the same box as “gosh darnit” and “Land O’Goshen”. The one labeled SWEARWORDS FOR PEOPLE WHO WEAR WHITE TRAINERS WITH JEANS.

“gal”—Inexplicably sinister, like a Dolly Parton bobblehead.

Contributions welcomed.


19 thoughts on “Words and Phrases That Suck

  1. I think I’m guilty of using a few of the words you think suck! (I really like the word peevish because it sounds exactly like it means).
    I get irritated by words that are overused such as ‘quirky’.

    • Peevish is actually a really good word! But peeved, no. It’s the sort of thing middle school teachers say because they think they’re not allowed to use strong language in front of (gasp) the children.

    • This is a REALLY good one! Disinterested means impartial, y’all! And “uninterested” IS an acceptable synonym for “bored”, so just bloody use that.

  2. This post made me laugh. I’m afraid I do regularly use a few of your pet peeves, such as “delves into,” but perhaps more often in my professional reviewing than in blog reviews. I generally substitute “well crafted” for well written as shorthand for “yes, this person can write.” I go for “doorstopper” instead of chunkster. I like British slang enough to use brilliant in its metaphorical sense, but I do object to “luminous,” which I find fawning and pretty meaningless. Publishers Weekly is guilty of overusing “stellar” in their reviews; also a no-no for me. I’d been toying with an idea for a post about words and phrases I overuse in my writing…

  3. Ha! I love posts like this (even if I’m guilty of using some of what’s on the list). I would like to add to it, but right now I’m drawing a blank. If I think of one, I’ll come back. 🙂

  4. Alas, alas, I am of the peevish snippet school of writing, guilty as charged!
    I blame it on my mimetic facility (with accents and also picking up other people’s vocabulary) – well I have to blame something or somebody, right?
    Words that I don’t like in book reviews: singular approach, pageturner, gripping, fast-paced.

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