About once a week I try to find time to sit down and check out words. I’m talking about words in general, to see if I can find something I don’t use often or have never used before. Unfortunately, this post about overused words all started with me looking for homophones and turned into something completely different altogether.
I came across one web site that had a list of the most overused words of 2012, and then did another search and came up with so many lists like this there didn’t seem to be an end. Now keep in mind I didn’t come up with any of these lists and I’ve never really paid that much attention to things like this. But I do find it interesting because I know other people who do. My literary agent friend, for example, despises the word “awesome.” He’s not fond of “hopefully” either. In fact, he’s told me if he sees a query letter with either of those two words it’s automatic slush pile material. He’s been known to correct people in public as well.
As it turns out, the word “awesome” is on almost all the lists of overused words I found. “Hopefully” isn’t there, but there are several others that seem to turn up on almost all the lists. Words like “epic” and “seriously” seem to be the most overused…some of these web sites get downright snarky about it. I’ve been guilty of some of these things myself, but I try to stay away from trendy things while I’m writing unless it’s part of dialogue that is important to the character. I have had characters use the word “seriously” more than once, as part of their natural dialogue. I go through stages sometimes where I use it in my daily speech as well.
In any event, here are a few links to the most overused words in 2012, with a few examples.
Urban Dictionary gets very entertaining with the word “epic.”
everything is epic now. epic car. epic haircut. epic movie. epic album. epic shut the fuck up.
saying “epic win” doesn’t make you sound any better, either. and for fucks sake, don’t ever say it in person.
To be honest, I didn’t even know what the hell “fiscal cliff” meant until someone told me. I don’t pay attention to politics because I find most politicians are liars and scoundrels, and every time I heard this it sounded so political I automatically dismissed it. Sometimes things work out just the right way.
Here’s a dictionary of despicable words. One of these words is something that bothers me every time I see it.
firstly. Why the ly? Simplify.
Exactly! I couldn’t have said it better. I feel the same way about secondly, thirdly, and fourthly, etc…There’s really no need for the ly. First, second, third, and so on does the job. I will never forget this experience: as a freshman in college majoring in English, I wrote a paper and used “firstly,” and the professor handed it back to me with a huge red circle around it and used it as an example in front of the entire class. Of course he was right. And I never did THAT again.
I could list more, because there doesn’t seem to be an end. And frankly, some of the other web sites were so stupid it’s not worth linking to them. One jumped into a big thing about how the word “gay” is so overused. They also commented on how it can be a insult to gay people when it’s used in a derogatory way. It often is used in a derogatory way. But they did it with such backhanded comments I’m not sure if they are supporting gays or slamming them.
In any event, words and language change all the time. And the links above are a good examples of what was hot yesterday isn’t so much today. At least I’ll start working on not using “seriously.”