What words do you hate? More than 500 people have answered so far.
Arne Duncan, the new Secretary of Education, loves to use the word incent, and for reasons I don’t understand it drives me crazy. Up until now I’ve always heard incentivize. Maybe it’s the frequency with which Duncan uses the word that bothers me, as well as the policies implied by it. I’m getting tired of hearing for decades that the way to fix the problems with education is to incent teachers, principals, students, and parents, and the way to do that is with money. I heard Duncan say that even the school janitors need to be incented. Why? Do clean restrooms make better students?
I suppose the logic is that when teachers are rewarded for good results that provides some extra incentive to do the extra work in order to get good results. But I still hate the word incent, while I don’t have a problem with the word reward, even though in the example provided they pretty much mean the same thing. I didn’t really mean to stir up issues about education!
I am fairly tolerant of incorrect word usage by most of my “normal” friends, and (almost) never point it out in social settings. However, “irregardless” will set my teeth on edge everytime. “Regardless” is a perfectly good word unadorned, why make it redundant? The times I have heard it uttered, it was usually from a person I looked up to academically- and I felt “let down”. Not to say I haven’t let them down in some way, irregardless of my intentions. (sorry, had to)
I agree with StephanieDC – “irregardless” actually makes me wince. Also, lately I have noticed significant “such” abuse occuring (perhaps because I am working in a part of the country where they include it in ordinary speech). Last week I heard my client use the expression “such that” 45 times in one day. Yes, I counted them.
Etymology, you didn’t say why you hated etcetera and anywho. Just curious! Personally, I enjoy hearing anywho, because it is almost always done with a dramatic flourish. But it’s rare that I hear it. Maybe I’d feel differently if I heard it all the time.
Stephanie (and hoppy), for whatever it’s worth, some people say irregardless to add emphasis to the relatively diminutive regardless. The ir, especially if prolonged and done with a slight growl, is audibly engaging. Those who won’t learn to appreciate the effect will continue to wince, I suspect.
Samaphore, the word that I hate isn’t “et cetera,” (which is two words) it’s “excetera.” There’s something about people mangling Latin phrases that bugs me a little bit (I’ll admit that I’m probably being inconsistent by overlooking other manglings of Latin in the English language). I think my dislike for “excetera” was stoked by repeatedly hearing a radio ad for a business called “Brakes Etc.” in which people keep saying “excetera.” One reason that I hate “excetera” may be that it reminds me of “excrement.”
As for my hatred of “anywho,” I don’t really know what to say about that other than that it seems like a somewhat forced attempt to be clever. When I was in a public speaking class in college, I had a classmate who kept saying “anywho” during his presentations, and it definitely rubbed me the wrong way.
Now that dmonfils mentions it, I’m not crazy about “panties” either. It seems slightly strange that womens’ underwear has this somewhat infantile, childish name when mens’ underwear doesn’t. Well, maybe it’s not that unexpected when you consider our society’s history of patriarchy and all that, but it still seems a little strange to me.
One reason that I hate “excetera” may be that it reminds me of “excrement.”
If Starbucks makes your espresso really fast is it called an expresso? I guess that the phrase, “Existentialists exclaim that extreme excitement exacerbates expensive expenditures,” would sound like diarrhea of the mouth to your ears?
Anywho as clever? That’s a surprise to me. I’ve only heard it used by people trying to be a little funny in a hick sort of way. And never in a presentation of any sort.
Panties doesn’t sound infantile or childish to me; it’s simply the word for women’s underwear. Men call theirs boxers or briefs. On the other hand, thongs and g-strings are ridiculous on a man or a woman.
The “excetera” post reminded me of “exscape”…i can’t help but notice when people add that extra letter and it makes me cringe.
The other word that gets me is when someone consistently says “utilize” in place of “use”. Is there a useful difference between these terms or just personal preference?
I just came from a meeting. I finally have an answer to this question.
I hate the word “mentee”.
I know. It’s in plenty of dictionaries. But there are lots of words in lots of dictionaries that make lots of people wince. Granted, usually only people who care about words and language would wince at words in dictionaries. But that’s why I’m doing my wayward whinging here.
I usually enjoy word-formation oddities a lot. However, this one rubs me the wrong way, and how. Mentor was a great person, who guided another great person. The application of his name in this situation is a beautiful metaphor. The beauty of the metaphor is shattered by the mere existence of the word “mentee”.
A mentor is still not someone who *”ments”. I don’t want to be a mentee, now or ever. I don’t want to have a mentee. Now, if I had the opportunity to be an odyssean, I might be willing to fight for that! If I had an odyssean who wanted my guidance, I would be honored.
One of my colleagues who attended the same meeting hates the word because it seems so passive, as if the mentee is having the *menting done to him or her.
If you get a dozen mentees into a room and serve them diet coke, should you duck?
I’m going to offer “integrite”. Had a boss about ten years ago who had convinced himself that this word existed and would use it in every memo: “We must always be integrite in our dealings with customers”. Sent him an anonymous photocopy of a page from the OED showing no such word–and incidentally displaying a few synonyms for what he seemed to be trying to say–but it never did any good.
This next is not exactly an objection, but I have a peculiar blind spot when I see the word “excitement” in print; I always try to read it as “excrement”. Assuming I’m not the only one, advertising people would be well advised to take this phenomenon into account.
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