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Worn-Out Words and Phrases: 2017

We enjoy helping you reinforce the way you express yourself with precise grammar and composition. We appreciate just as much when you join meaningful discussions about written language.

Our recent GrammarBook article Worn-Out Words and Phrases inspired some great feedback about whether certain terms have outlived their welcome.

After reading and considering your thoughtful responses, we determined we could follow our previous article with further review of the subject in two parts: The first provides some starting alternatives to the hangers-on we’d deemed ready for retirement. The second expands the original list with astute additions from our readers.

Our aim with this topic is to keep writing fresh, distinctive, and pointed. We understand several of these words and phrases may remain popular in conversational use, where they often reinforce comfort between speakers. They also maintain the flow of speech, which doesn’t always allow the pause for deeper, selective thought that writing affords (although focused and disciplined writing can often lead to more articulate speaking).

I. Alternatives for the First List

Original Alternatives
absolutely (interj) yes; of course
alrighty then (idiom) okay
amazing (adj) stunning, wondrous
at the end of the day (prep. phrase) in the end, ultimately
awesome (adj) wonderful, impressive
by the same token (prep. phrase) similarly
cutting-edge (adj) leading, innovative
drop(ped) the ball (verb phrase) bungle, botch, fail to follow up
high-impact (adj) forceful, powerful, productive
holistic (adj) comprehensive, integrated
honestly (qualifying modifier) (strike as unnecessary)
it’s not rocket science (idiomatic clause) it’s simple, easy
just sayin’ (idiom) (strike as unnecessary)
literally (qualifying modifier) (strike as unnecessary, unless literally correct)
low-key (adj) mellow, subtle, relaxed
on the same page (prep. phrase) agree, concur (v)
paradigm shift (noun phrase) radical change, new belief
pretty (qualifying modifier) (strike as unnecessary)
really (qualifying modifier) (strike as unnecessary)
so this happened (idiom) (strike as unnecessary)
synergy (n) teamwork, harmony, unity
think outside the box (verb phrase) be creative, think differently
touch base (verb with particle) (re)connect
under one roof (prep. phrase) in one place

II. Additions to the List

Worn-Out Word/Phrase Alternatives
24/7 (adv) always; all of the time
basically (qualifying modifier) (strike as unnecessary)
from the get-go (prep. phrase) from the start, beginning
hate it when that happens (verb clause) that’s unfortunate (or strike it)
I mean (idiom to start a sentence) (strike as unnecessary)
impact(ed) (v) affect(ed), influence(d)
in the DNA (prep. phrase) integral to, part of
it’s all good (idiom) good, fine, okay
like (expletive, e.g., it’s, like, all there) (strike as unnecessary)
my bad (idiom) I was wrong, mistaken
perfect storm (noun phrase, idiom) crisis, ordeal, quagmire
proactive (adj) diligent, motivated, thinking ahead
reach out (verb with particle) contact, connect
right? (idiomatic interrogative) true, agreed
safe haven (tautological noun phrase) haven, refuge, sanctuary
seriously? (idiomatic interrogative) (strike as unnecessary)
so not (expletive, e.g., it’s so not true) not (strike so)
sounds good/like a plan (verb phrase) okay (interj), agreed (adj)
a lot/too much on plate
(noun phrase)
busy, occupied, swamped (adj)

We can all think of even more words and phrases that belong on this list—or are working their way toward it. Together, as guardians of good grammar and writing, we can lead in keeping a lush linguistic landscape free of what can sap it of its beauty and strength.

Because of the e-newsletter’s large readership, please submit your comments or questions regarding today's (or any past) article through GrammarBook.com’s Grammar Blog

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