Annoying Words

I’m just taking a break in my high-powered NaNo day (5,000 is my super-lofty goal), and I want to know: Do you have any words that irk you?

I hate to always draw on pop-culture examples, but check out this video from How I Met Your Mother, and you’ll know what I mean:

Lilly hates moist.

While I don’t really have shudder-inducing words, I do have two that really irritate me, and not for any rational reason.

The first is flow, used in the context of writing–especially poetry. This comes from a professor who once told us that if we used flow in the lameass way most people do (“The words flow together from the first line to the second…”), he would mark our paper down a letter grade.

It irks me (and irked him, I suppose) because it’s not really saying anything. If you’re writing about poetry, you either mean enjambment or something about the effect of the sibilant consonants. In describing fiction or other prose, you probably mean smooth transitions between scenes or… well, I don’t know what.

I realize that this is irrational, and there are plenty of legitimate reasons to describe words as flowing. Still, it bugs the crap out of me. Be specific in what you’re trying to say, people!

The other is troops, generally used in describing soldiers or other armed-forces-types. (“An estimated 200,000 troops have suffered a traumatic brain injury since 2002…”) I know that this is correct AP style, but the primary definition of “troop” is a group of individuals, not a particular individual. News reports use “troop” to describe a single person. It’s a euphemism. Heaven forbid we say that individuals died in a war.

Ugh. I think I’m getting more crotchety as I approach 30.

How about you? What words do you hate? Crotchety, perhaps? Moist? Am I alone on this–well, saving the company of a sitcom character?

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5 thoughts on “Annoying Words

  1. Can’t really say I have anything that I hate, or that annoying me. Though, ‘like’ is a word I am trying to purge from my vocabulary – both in my writing and speech. I use it too often.

  2. I don’t like the word crusty, but mostly because anything described that way induces images of something disgusting. I accept that it has its uses. 🙂

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