World-class pains

From Ed Geithner

When I was doing PR, I got into an argument with a client who truly
believed that the words “world class” placed before her product (software that helps design semiconductors) added some meaning. She
thought the same about “best of breed,” which I thought was confined to use by the American Kennel Club. Hmm, maybe she meant her software was a dog. She won both arguments when the check cleared.

My nominees for banning:

  • “(Fill in the blank) went terribly wrong.” It probably did,
    but I’ll strangle the next TV newscaster who says it.
  • “His life (or something else) was changed forever.” We’ll
    never know, since neither the subject nor us will be around to find
  • “A broad/wide range . . .” Ranges must be something else,
    if only writers take the time to find out what.
  • Fashion crimes

    From Peter Lynn:

    Some words and phrases I’m getting a little tired of:

  • Killer app.: Unless the technology functionally resembles
    the HAL 9000 computer from “2001,” it’s not a killer application.
    It’s just a tired phrase.
  • Diva: Being used today to discuss almost any female singer
    or demanding star, it should strictly refer to female opera stars.
    Elton John is not, and cannot be, a diva — no matter how bitchy he
    acts. The term “prima donna” has already been extended to refer
    to tempermental, conceited people, so let’s please retain the precision
    of “diva”.
  • Fashionista: What a pretentious word! Surely Che Guevara
    would roll in his grave at the thought that the “-ista” suffix used
    by freedom-fighting guerrillas has been co-opted by those in the fashion
    industry, as if their escapades on the runways of Milan are of the
    same importance as the struggle for liberty in the jungles of Latin
  • Get off this program

    Bob Lee sends a new one on me:

    Because my employment as a computer programmer requires that I read books and articles written about the so-called “object-oriented” programming, I am often assaulted by the following non-words: “instantiation,” which means simply an instance of something; “instatiate,” a verb which means to create an instance; and the various forms of the verb, including “instatiated” and “instatiating.”For those software engineers who report to me, I can insist that “instance” always be used in place of “instantiation.” However, I cannot police the entire software industry. I’m told the misuse of these terms originated with military programmers who wanted to sound educated through the use of big words. Have you been exposed to “instatiation?” Can you recommend a way to discourage its use?

    Editor’s note: To bastardize an old joke — “How do you keep
    a programmer from charging? Take away his stock options.”

    Cuts like a knife

    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.

    Flackery gone mad

    Mitch Wagner can hack no more of the following from public relations flacks:

  • “(Whatever) just got easier.” as in: “Cleaning
    viruses off your hard disk just got easier…”
  • “Taking (whatever) to its next level” as in: “Taking virus-scanning to its next level…”
  • Raising the bar on (whatever).” After we raise
    the bar we dance the limbo, and then we do the hokey-pokey and we
    turn ourselves about. And that’s what it’s all about, hey.
  • The company executive quote that starts, “We are proud to be
    working with XYZ Corp., an acknowledged market leader.”
    That’s a double-cliche there, “we are proud” and “market
    leader.” The executive is sometimes “excited” rather
    than proud.
  • Which state, what art?

    Rory Thompson posits a rave and a challenge:

    I’ve had QUITE ENOUGH of the (un)descriptive phrase, “State
    of the art…
    ” I used to relish tearing into lazy reporters
    who tagged the phrase on whenever they had nothing creative to say
    about a new product. Can any of your more seasoned correspondents
    tell me where “state of the art” originated? I need to know
    so I can wave it in contributors’ faces when they try to slink it
    into one of their features pieces.