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?