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We wish to thank newsletter reader Dorothy Rosby for permission to use the clever article she developed after reading our recent posts Worn-Out Words and Phrases: 2017 and its Follow-up post. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
A Really, Really Awesome List
It’s come to my attention that I use the words awesome and amazing far more often than my circumstances merit. Recently, GrammarBook.com’s editors published a newsletter containing a list of words and phrases its contributors think are overused. At first, I scoffed
at the list. I’ve never used the latest “in” words and phrases—my bad, chill pill, cool beans—because they very quickly become clichés and, as a professional columnist, I avoid clichés at all costs—like the plague.
But then I noticed amazing and awesome at the top of the
list. I use them interchangeably to describe everything from the Grand
Canyon to a quick nap.
Also on the list were really and pretty, two modifiers I
also use far too often, as in “seeing the total eclipse would be
pretty awesome” and “this tapioca pudding is really, really
amazing.” Absolutely, was on the list and I use it almost as often, even though I seldom feel
as certain as it makes me sound. And seriously? I absolutely say
“seriously” at least once a day. I say “sounds
good” almost every time I agree to anything, even when it
doesn’t sound good at all. And I have not only said “drop the
ball,” I have done it.
Still, I’m proud to say that there were many words/phrases on
GrammarBook’s overused word/phrase list that I rarely use. I
don’t say “think outside the box,” and I probably
don’t do it much either.
Nor do I say “paradigm shift.” Over the years, I’ve had a
lot of things shift, but I’m not sure my paradigm is one of them.
And, honestly, I hardly ever say “honestly.” I always figure
it’s implied. Besides it brings to mind that Ralph Waldo Emerson
quote: “The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our
I never say “It’s all good,” because nothing is ever all
good. I think people only say, “It’s all good” because
“it’s mostly good” isn’t as catchy.
And I don’t say “my bad,” either, mainly because it means
“I was wrong,” and I seldom am—honestly.
made the list, and it does, like, baffle me why some people, like, sprinkle
the word like, as if it were salt and pepper throughout, like,
I was happy to see just saying on the list, because I’ve
never understood it. Someone says something dramatic, and then they add
“just saying,” or, more precisely “just
sayin’.” Do they mean, “I’m just saying it because
I can’t keep quiet another minute”? Or “I’m just
saying it, but I don’t really mean it”? Or “I’m
just saying it because I don’t feel like singing it”?
There were many other overused words and phrases on the list that I rarely use including high impact, low key, cutting edge, it’s not rocket science, and alrighty then. But there were a few that didn’t make the list that I think should have, for example, but wait, you also get … and its numerous variations. And it is what it is, always sounds far more profound than it is … and what it is.
And sweet is the new tubular, which replaced gnarly, which came after groovy, which replaced keen, which came after gas, which was once the bee’s knees and the cat’s pajamas.
But I was happy my favorite overused phrases weren’t on the list
because I don’t want to stop saying them. I say “you
know” or “you know what I mean” as often as teenagers say
“like” and motivational speakers say “paradigm
shift.” But I have a good reason. I say something
important—really, really important, then I say, “You know what
I mean,” because I’m not sure anyone does. I’m just
—Dorothy Rosby is a syndicated humor columnist. You can read her work at www.dorothyrosby.com.
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Thank you to Deborah R. for sending us this picture. Notice the irony between "LOVE THE OXFORD COMMA" and the general absence of the Oxford comma otherwise.
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