I used to be indecisive…

…but now I'm not so sure

Words I’d like to ban


A recent WordPress Daily Prompt was ‘If you could permanently ban a word from general usage, which one would it be? Why?’

There isn’t just one word I would like to ban – I’ve got three candidates.  The first is ‘absolutely’.  It used to be quite an innocuous word – a word which meant completely, totally or not limited in any way.  For example – “Yes officer, I am absolutely certain that I saw a man in a striped tee shirt, wearing a mask and carrying a black sack climb out of my neighbour’s window”.  Now it seems to mean ‘yes’, ‘okay’ or ‘I agree’ and is so overused that it is driving me mad.  It’s everywhere.  Just the other day I was listening to someone being interviewed on the radio (I can’t quite remember the topic, I’m afraid – I was too busy being irritated) and almost every answer she gave started with ‘Absolutely’.  I was driving the car at the time, and just wanted to shout at her to start her replies with something different!  People being interviewed, or just chatted to, on TV often start their answer with absolutely.  It is absolutely ridiculous (I think that was a justified use of it!) how much misuse this word gets.  It seems to be an epidemic.

The second word I would ban is ‘ahead‘.  It really, really annoys me when I hear it used incorrectly (to my mind anyway).  Correct usage would be ‘John finished the race just ahead of his bitter rival Bob’, not ‘Prime Minister Joe Bloggs arrived in London ahead of tomorrow’s meeting with the Council of Time Lords’.  I’m probably not keeping up with the times here – I know language moves on or we’d all still be talking like cave men – but it niggles every time I hear it.

The third one would be ‘like’.  I don’t have a problem with the word itself really (if it it being used correctly to mean ‘similar to’ or in appreciation of something), just the fact that some people cannot string even the shortest of sentences together without using it.  I don’t actually think they realise what they are doing and it has just become a habit.  ‘Like’ has been a bugbear of mine for years (I’m sure I wrote a post about it ages ago) and it doesn’t seem to be going away.

Which word would you like to ban?


21 thoughts on “Words I’d like to ban

  1. In Geordie, they’ve been adding “like” to the end of sentences for years… probably forever. As in “Are you not coming, like?” or “The weather is awful, like”. I don’t even notice it anymore.

  2. Like, you’re absolutely ahead of the game 😉

  3. I absolutely agree with you on the usage of like. As for absolutely, I suspect I use it too frequently. My bad.

  4. Hahaha… I feel your pain. My horror is ‘of’ when people say “I could ‘of’ done that” when they so obviously mean HAVE! Even worse, I knew a teacher (not of English thank goodness) who spoke like this! Sadly Elaine, I think we are a dying breed – our beautiful language is being mangled.

  5. I think “ahead” is better than “upcoming”, which is what might be used otherwise. “Prime Minister Joe Bloggs arrived in London for his upcoming meeting with the Council of Time Lords.” I agree. Of course he arrived ahead of the meeting. Because that’s what you do. If he’s arrived after the meeting, then even the Time Lords would probably have not been able to help him.

    I have an irrational hatred of “whip up” and “topped off”. I hate it when crafty bloggers say they just “whipped up” a cushion cover. And I hate it when culinary bloggers say they “topped off” their apple crumble with a sprinkle of chopped nuts. It’s very irrational.

    • I think Prime Minister Joe Bloggs could have arrived in London before his meeting, but I see what you mean regarding using ‘upcoming’ – that’s another bad one! I haven’t heard ‘whipped up’ being used too much, but today I heard another annoying one. In the supermarket one of the supervisors asked a check out operator if she could just ‘jump on the till for me’. ‘Jump on’??

  6. Like!!!!!!! The other thing thing that drives me NUTS is the voice that rises three octaves at the end of a sentence and is expressed in a question.

  7. Indubitably, Elaine. 🙂 I like/ dislike your choices, but fear you’re ahead of the times. These usages are here to stay for the foreseeable future.

  8. I thought of like immediately. It’s overused and incorrectly used. But my particular disliked word is snuck. It has just become so common. The past tense of sneak is sneaked not snuck. If I met the person who first said snuck I would give them an earbashing.

  9. Literally. Over-and improper use drives me nuts. And especially in sentences such as: “Like, I literally died!” which I seem to hear all too often in the classroom lately.

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