I am a dedicated logophile — a word nerd. When a group of words leaves a lasting impression on me, my heart races with excitement, while the wrong word can spark an internal anguish like no other.
If you’re anything like me, there are very few things more frustrating than clicking on an article with an interesting headline and, upon reading it, finding very little to take away from it. The beauty of compelling content lies in the precise and concise use of words to convey a meaningful message to your audience — which means jargon has no place in it.
Here is a list of our team’s most-hated words and what we’d like to see used instead.
Cory Davies, director of client services
It makes me think epidemiologists or the people who put on the Darwin Awards are equating humans to cattle. It’s like we’re all just passively standing around waiting to see how many of us it takes to get picked off before we can just go back to mindlessly grazing and killing the ozone with our flatulence.
Instead: Community immunity. Just kidding, that sucks too. But at least it rhymes.
Patrick Reardon, managing editor
Is there any modern English adjective less descriptive than “interesting”? Describing something as interesting is like telling someone your sandwich had bread on it — it’s a verbal shortcut that somehow excuses you from being precise in your language. Not only is it dismissive, it adds no value to conversation and provides no new insights. Communication deserves better.
Instead: Use specificity and descriptors. The next time you’re about to use “interesting” as a response, take a moment and think critically. If you are truly interested in something, I bet you can explain that interest in more than one word.
In these uncertain times.
Annie Wiles, editorial director
Did times used to be certain?
Instead: In these unprecedented times. Just kidding. Did times used to be precedented? Not unless we are time travelers!
Maria Hieber, editorial intern
By definition, “literally” is used to describe something in a literal sense or manner or to emphasize the truth and accuracy of a statement or description — so stop saying you “literally died” after a hard workout or that you are “literally starving” because I guarantee you aren’t dead and you aren’t enduring a severe deprivation of nutrition.
Instead: Try only using it when something literally happens.
Parker Peterson, creative director
This term often oversells individuals who don’t even come close to the true meaning of it. It also implies that the person has one foot in whatever business they are a part of, or that they’re only half-there most of the time.
Instead: Give your actual job title.
Sam Elbedeiwy, editorial intern
I won’t lie, I am still guilty of using this word today. What annoys me about it, though, isn’t the word itself. It’s the way that the word is used to preface something that isn’t actually lowkey! For example, “I lowkey hate this class,” or, “Hey, the first time I met you, I lowkey hated you.” Nothing is “lowkey” about either of those statements … you hated that class and you hated that person. Like “no offense,” saying “lowkey” before a controversial statement doesn’t absolve you of the consequences.
Instead: Just delete lowkey from the sentence and rephrase what you’re trying to say to make it more friendly!
As fun as writing about our most-hated words was, our real love is writing great content. Check out our blog to see some more, and contact us to learn how we can improve your content marketing strategy.