Monday, 16 February 2015

It's only words...

"Portmanteaus are generally obnoxious. Putting two words together to create a new word is not a unique, creative skill. It's lazy kitsch."
I stumbled across a most excellent article today - Top 10 Words That Need To Die, Immediately by Rob Hart, writing for a site called LitReactor. In it, he berates the rubbish words that litter conversations and so-called journalism these days.

In Rob's list, he includes several bugbears of mine that have driven me to apoplexy in recent years, including such loathesome constructs as "bromance", "foodie" and "irregardless", as well as social-media-crap words like "fail", "nom", "totes" and "LOL".

Rob's readers came up with some that are equally deserving of scorn, such as "chillax", "troll", "diss", "OMG", "factoid", "on trend", "impactful" and "amazeballs" and the over-use or misuse of "literally", "weird", "random" and "awesome". One comment in particular made me chuckle: "unless your drunken night involved a sword, it was not 'epic'."

I could add many bêtes noires of my own to the list, not least the "management-speak" evils of "hub", "guesstimate", "integrated", "leveraging" and "synergy", or such inept "street" words/phrases as "my bad", "no problemo" or "twerk". I would implement an immediate ban on the word "like" when used as a "filler" word, or in place of "said" ("And she was, like, 'Don't diss me', like."). [The late, great Christopher Hitchens agreed.]

Like the author, I too despise lazy portmanteau words - particular irritants I have come across include "staycation", "advertorial", "prequel" (and, even worse, just yesterday I audibly gasped when I read an article in which the term "spinquel" was used; how horrible!), "frenemy", "docudrama" and "webinar". I particularly hate references to celebrities and celebrity couples as an amalgam of names ("Brangelina" and "R-Patz" are vile examples).

And all this was prompted by... Today's newspaper headlines (even in the normally stuffy Telegraph!) referring to something called "Grexit", yet another lazy way of talking about Greece's proposed exit from the European Monetary Union. I despair.

I know that bloggers (a word that is itself a "portmanteau") are a pernickety bunch.

So what words, dear reader, really get up your nose?


  1. Supposably! It's actually a real word but 9 times out of 10 it's incorrect. The over use of the word AMAZING...said with a croak. Tires in and of themselves (another phrase I hate) are not AMAZINGGGGGGG! That would imply they are surprisingly wondrous or astonishing. Cliches are annoying, step up to the plate, break me off a piece of dat, step into the ring, etc. My current pet peeve, (another cliche) is the misuse of acronyms. The internet is full of knowledgeable people in a certain area but not all of us know or speak the jargon. Please use an entire phrase first then from that point on you can shorten it into an acronym. Having to stop reading an article to google an acronym makes me lose interest in the article and lose respect and credibility for the writer.

    I really hate that!

    1. "Supposably" isn't a real word at all. In the Collins Dictionary it is listed as "a US equivalent of presumably". Which means it is a construct of people who have limited vocabulary. A made-up word.

      As for "amazing!" (exclamation intended), - utterly meaningless over-emphases of situations or objects are mainly used by suppressed hysterics, in a similar vein to "awesome" (another personal peeve), "classic" (a word I am afraid I am sometimes guilty of over-using myself, albeit as an adjective rather than a modifier), "genius", "epic" and the rest...

      ...and acronyms are my ultimate bug-bear in work. I spend more of my time re-writing documents to explain jargon terms than anything else, unfortunately. The thanks I get in return? "If the reader doesn't understand it, they are not in the market of people we want to attract." Some days, I could cheerfully strangle people I work with. And smile.


    2. I agree, supposably should not be a word at all! It shows up in American dictionaries and more often, in my rube infested area, in conversations with 'supposably' intelligent educated people. It's a current verbal disease. Apparently it's completely unknown to the British.

      The difference between "supposably" (possibly, conceivably) and "supposedly" (ostensibly, what someone believes to be true) is subtle, but almost no one uses "supposably" correctly. When in doubt, use "supposedly"!

    3. Indubitably, allegedly, doubtless, ostensibly - all words that can, and in many cases probably do, mean the same. No need, in my opinion, to create a new word just because these are out of one's grasp... Jx

  2. Replies
    1. "If Moses supposes his toeses are roses, then Moses supposes erroneously!" Jx

  3. Blimey.... And there was me getting ratty about a humble bath mat.

    1. Or is that "bath-mat", or maybe "bathmat"?

      Hee hee! Jx

  4. Oh, I so hate lazy English, and you're right - most of these shortcut and potmanteau words need to be lost forever (perhaps in a book titled "What were we thinking? Words and phrases that deserved to die"). The word 'Brexit' has always annoyed me, and of course 'Grexit' is no better. I'm just waiting patiently for 'Poxit' to arrive, now that Poland has started the pensions fight.

    1. I think "Poxit" sounds positively Shakespearean... Jx


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