I read the list of cliches and thought I’d offer a few business &
investment-related ones that I resent greatly. I’m in too “foul of a
mood” to think of clever ways to present them:
- “the bottom line“
- “as we speak“
- “nobody rings a bell at the top“
- “it’s a cyclical bull move in a secular bear market“
Thanks for listening…
From Don Hewitt:
There are a number of expressions that really annoy me, both in the
media and everyday speech.
“Totally”– To add “totally” to something is redundant
and ignorant. Can something be in worse condition than to be
“destroyed?” Could someone be more than surprised? “Totally”
“Win-Win” situations. What ever happened to “mutually beneficial? “Thinking outside the box”– This has got to be one of the
most ridiculous sayings ever concocted. Do people go sit in
boxes to think? Ah, yes, maybe they sit in Kitty Litter Boxes.
In that case, I would definitely “think outside the box.”
“Celebs” and a host of other moronic abbreviations. This
oh so clever expression makes the user sound like an idiot.
Trendy abbreviations communicate nothing more than that the
one using them is so very up to date and clever. Belch.
“Goes” — an expression meaning movement away from an object
or person. But it doesn’t mean “says”, as in “He goes, Well
I did not know you were in town.” Duh. How about “He SAYS?”
Chas Chastain suggests:
Tech-heavy Nasdaq. Is there another Nasdaq that I don’t know
Rory Costello forwards the following:
My nominee is going forward, a filler phrase that has pervaded
the minds of everyone on Wall Street (always a lode of clunky jargon)
and has crept into the business media too, especially CNNfn and Bloomberg.
It’s implicit in almost any context in which it appears.Also, it seems as if the business media now insists on the unnecessary
use of by with verbs and amounts: “the German market was
up by 1.5%,” “raising interest rates by 25 basis points.”
Tara Calishain offers
I stumbled on your site while doing some research and
enjoyed it, especially the Banned for Life section. I’m not a newsie
(I’m a freelancie) but I would humbly suggest “cutting-edge”
as a phrase that needs to be retired.
Rick Palkovic sends a few that were missed by previous contributors:
Literally: I’m hearing this used as an all-around intensifier,
usually when the speaker means just its opposite: figuratively. I
once heard political commentator say: “Congressional leaders
literally held a gun to the President’s head!” Don’t we have
laws against this sort of thing?
Et al: Everyone seems to be using this when they mean “etc.”
They seem to think it sounds more intelligent. Better not to use either,
of course, but use “et al.” for people; “etc.”
World-class: A term favored by PR flacks when a more accurate
description is usually “barely competent.”
Endangered species: When all the loggers in the Northwest
lose their jobs, they just have to find other jobs — they aren’t
dead, and neither are their relatives, much less the whole human race.
Casual metaphoric use of this phrase trivializes the enormity of driving
a species into extinction.
Jennifer Bulat sent these pained sentiments along:
I’m a copy editor until I die; few I work with understand my perverse love of editing. Here are my pet peeves:
“kicked off“: Meetings no longer can begin; they
have to be “kicked off” by a rousing speech from a congressman
or some other talking head. This phrase should be confined to football.
corporate-speak seeping into the lexicon: People aren’t busy anymore;
they have “a lot on their plate.” They don’t talk,
they “have a conversation” about something or “communicate
that to” someone else. They don’t explain things to each
other; they “make sure we’re all on the same page.”Aaaarrrrrrrggggggghhhhh. Make it stop.
Anyone who says “the wave of the future” is clearly “mired
in the past,” says retired English professor Helen H. Gordon, who
defines a composition teacher as one who, for the love of good writing,
reads more bad writing than she’d ever have to read in any other occupation.
The Professor submits these choice annoyances:
“the bottom line” “blow-by-blow description” “last but not least” “unsung hero” “couldn’t care less” (or erroneously, “could care
“man’s best friend” “sacred cow” “whose ox is being gored” “man (or woman) who needs no introduction”
Sidharth Bhatia sends these fresh (stale?) from the Asian Subcontinent:
I chanced upon your excellent site and enjoyed all the cliches. In
India, we suffer from the hangovers of the archaic English left back
by our erstwhile colonial masters, the Brits. While they have moved
on, we stick to Ye Olde hackneyed English. And of course, our hacks
have also developed their own peculiar phrases. Some examples:
The detenus flew the coop Ministers air-dashed to the capital (they never fly, always airdash) A favourite with ponderous edit writers: Needless to say (then don’t
It ill behoves us Culprits nabbed (a very common headline)There are many more, but let me conclude with this story of the editorial
writer who was summoned by his boss and told to write 600 words on some
matter of grave importance. At about 5 p.m., when there was no sign
of the editorial, the Big man himself went to his junior’s cabin and
found him lying slumped on his typewriter (those were the days before
PCs), quite dead. On the sheet in the typewriter there was just one
Dick Davis shares these:
Terms used in governments: “we’re investigating“ “innovative.” “re-invent the wheel”
I know because I used to use them as a public information officer.