Although I’m a grammar and word usage nerd, I rarely blog about it, mainly because others do it so well, and for PR pros, the frequency of reminders can be tedious. Yes, certain incorrect, trite, or pompous words are irresistible complaint fodder: my personal dreads are “hone in” for “home in” or anything with “utilize” for the much better “use.” Also PR jargon like “buzz” and “optics.”
But in honor of the 25th anniversary of The Princess Bride, here’s a list of words more commonly misused in professional circles or in the office. Some are merely old, some incorrect, while others simply should never have seen the light of day.
Any nouns used as verbs. And vice versa. “Onboarding, “concretize,” and “webify” are three offenders. I swore I’d never say “productize,” but after 20 years in tech PR, it rolls off my tongue. Then there’s “showroom,” as in, “I showroomed the new tablet then ordered it from Amazon.” Most nouns should never be “verbed.”
Flexitarian. The word refers to dietary habits, but it’s also a badge of identity, like “metrosexual.” According to Merriam-Webster’s Kory Stamper, it’s from the “you are what you eat” school. In my book, it’s confusing and pretentious.
Funemployed. No, it’s not really. Maybe pre-recession, but since 2008 this hasn’t been a good word.
Spinnish. I’ve heard this used to describe the language used by PR pros and politicians. Funny, maybe, but too backhanded.
Refudiate. This word was famously invented by Sarah Palin and it should have ended with her retirement from politics.
Democratize. Another “verbification” that actually makes sense to me, though it may be through sheer overuse. And that’s the problem; this word is just so tired, having been used to describe everything from financial investments to art. Let’s vote it out for a while.
Agreeance. Are we all in “agreement” that this is an invented word, and not a good one?
Smirting. This is meant to refer to flirting while smoking, since anti-smoking regs have driven so many office workers outdoors. NPR’s “A Way With Words” confirms my suspicion that it’s something a PR person invented and tried to popularize, but it never really caught fire.
Ridonkulous. I’m secretly fond of this one, but it’s seen better days. When a word is attached to discount sales, it means it’s not as cool as you think.
Sexting. Last year “sexting” was named the Most Annoying New Tech Word by Computeractive Magazine (which I think should consider a name change itself.) But, alas, it’s here to stay. And to be honest, “intexticated” – from the same list – is actually worse.
Digerati. Does anyone really say this? Certainly not them.