Box this up and ship to Siberia

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”
    surprised means…….?
  • “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?”
  • Been here before

    Pat Curry’s all-time pet peeve:

    It was deja vu all over again.” Deja vu is the sensation
    that you’ve been, done or said something when you’ve haven’t before
    (as so wonderfully described in the Diana Ross song of the same name).
    I’m forever seeing stories in which people who did something 20 years
    ago reunite and the experience is described as deja vu.

    Prior restraint

    Larry Sommers
    of the Public Affairs Office, Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs,
    shares three of his pet peeves:

  • “Prior to” – Military memo writers never say “before” when they can say “prior to.” It’s always something like, “Be sure to move your vehicles from the north parking lot prior to 1600 hours, when
    the night crew will be be plowing.” This manner of writing creeps
    into military journalism, e.g.: “Sgt. Kevlar is seen here polishing
    his boots prior to reporting for duty.”
  • “Tragic death” – On both local and national television,
    and in quite a few newspapers as well, it seems death = tragedy. We
    know, of course, that only a few deaths (Oedipus, Hamlet, Buddy Holly)
    are actually tragic; some deaths (Gauguin, Chuckles the Clown) are
    banal; some (Osama bin Laden, the Crocodile Hunter) might be satisfying;
    and ALL THE REST – roughly 99.9 percent of all human deaths – are
    just deaths, no adjectives need apply.
  • “Yada-yada-yada,” So-and-so added/ noted/ explained/ commented/ remarked/ pointed out. Fortunately, more typical of
    student journalists than of professionals. More than nine times out
    of ten, “said” is the better choice. It is the exception to the rule
    that we should look for more lively verbs. One would usually prefer
    the smack and tang of the quote itself to draw the reader’s attention,
    without being upstaged by some fancy-schmancy verb-of-assertion hovering
    just beyond the quotation marks. Of course, that assumes the writer
    has been able to discover an interesting and relevant quote somewhere
    amid the speaker’s ruminations.
  • A free pool of blood

    G. Wong offered the following

    Some words and phrases are blithely used in the local media without
    a second thought as to their sensibilities.

  • Free gift: a gift is free by definition
  • Pool of blood: as in “The man was lying in a pool of
  • Action…. against: a catch-all term to mean punishment without
    saying much. Sometimes the paper, radio or TV stations will proffer
    the details but often won’t, leaving us to read between the lines.
    eg “Action will be taken against Anwar Ibrahim.”
  • Nabbed & transparency: as in detained, and public accountability
    _ the latter often used in govt.-speak to urge agencies or businesses
    to be more transparent.
  • Percentages: often misused when percentage points up or down
    are meant. Telekom Malaysia’s pre-tax profit was down 12 percentage
    points from 48 percent. Hardly the same as a 12 percent reduction.
  • Exacting

    Phil Roberts-Thomson makes this plea to the literary world:

    I hope, in vain, that I will never again read “exact same“.
    Not only is it a tautology, but it should be “exactly the same
    as.” My wife came to the phrase in a poorly written contemporary
    novel. In disgust, she threw the book across the room (in reality she
    was pleased for the excuse).

    He was always a bit different

    Martin Hillman bids death to redundant use of “different”:

  • “He spoke five different languages and had worked in four different countries.” How grateful he must have been: His
    life would have been dull indeed, and semantically complex, if he
    had spoken identical languages or visited countries which were identical.
  • And then there are the ones like the steeply sloping ramp: a surreal steeply level ramp would have been much more fun.
  • Or fast-moving traffic — it really makes one hanker for the fast-stationary sort.
  • News flash: murders are brutal

    Canadian David Isaac sends these along:

  • A brutal murder (rape, assault); isn’t all murder brutal?
  • Rushed to hospital; as in the “the victim was rushed
    to hospital.” Do tell. What do you think the paramedics did,
    took a slow drive to hospital?
  • Thrown his/her hat into the ring; where’s the ring? Who wears hats?
  • Safely ahead

    From Paul Murray, editor of The West Australian:

  • Safe haven. What other sort of haven could there be?
  • Ahead of. A dreadful television term rapidly replacing the lovely “before” in newspapers.
  • Perfect perfection

    From Greg Newell:

    My pet peeve as a sports writer/editor is the dreaded reference
    to a PERFECT 18-0 record or a PERFECT 9-0 or perfect any record that includes only wins. There is no such thing as an IMPERFECT 18-0,
    is there?