Words I'm trying to avoid using


In an effort to improve the clarity of my written and spoken communication, I'm noting words that I use too much. A partial list:

  • Basically: empty word I use way too often, especially when defining or explaining something. E.g.: "This extension basically makes it easier to extend mozilla." Basically adds nothing to this sentence except 9 letters.
  • Interesting: my go to word for expressing enthusiasm about something. I think it's lazy, as I rarely explain what I find interesting. Getting at the reason for my interest would be way more, well, interesting than just a statement. (Also file this under: criticial thinking skills, need for improvement of.)
  • Kind of, probably, likely, mostly, sort of: Weasel qualifiers used so I can avoid definitive statements. I do this a lot and I've decided that pre-couching statements with plausible deniability is getting in the way of communicating clearly.
  • Very, really: reverse of previous point. Started noticing the use of these after reading Mark Twain quote: "Substitute 'damn' every time youčre inclined to write 'very'; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be."
  • Dude: (spoken communication only). Typically employed in a jokey, ironic fashion but it's become a crutch, and I'm sure it makes me look like a doofus at times.

It's hard to act as editor as I'm writing but it'll be worth it if I can internalize good habits. (I had to remove kind of from the previous sentence.)



I get annoyed when people use "indeed" a lot in their writing. Now there's a word that's better off in the bin.

I read over my blog entries before I submit them, but I must admit I do add useless words in an attempt to make my sentences "flow". It's a habit I got from my arts classes.

The best thing to do (if you can) is to get someone else to read your writing and have them tell you if you're over-using some words or have some bad writing habits. Maybe I should do that...

Dude: www.ratemywritingsample.com. It'll make millions!

How damn self-aware of you :)

One word that gets me going is 'utilize'. In a 'writing for the web' class my teacher said it's just a longer way to say 'use'...

It would be kind of cool to see someone write a plugin to flag the the words one is trying to avoid. Basically, just a regex, but I think it could really interesting. Probably more difficult to do for spoken word.

Hmm, someone did it for passive verbs and adverbs, so it couldn't be too difficult. Something to look into.

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This page contains a single entry by was published on February 22, 2005 10:19 AM.

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