There are some words in the English language that are like nails on a chalkboard to me. I’m particularly sensitive to business-related jargon. Why? Because I always think if a person is hiding behind a bunch of jargon, buzz words and corporate rhetoric, they’re undoubtedly trying to cover up their lack of real knowledge on the subject at hand. Whether or not that’s true is up for debate, but I much prefer get-to-the-point, give-it-to-me-straight language over jargon-heavy fluff.
So now that I got that off my chest, you’re probably wondering what my point is. It’s simple. While I’ll gladly admit there is a time and place for jargon and buzz words, I find writing and messages to be far more powerful when they’re devoid of filler words. Of course, fiction writing falls into another category entirely, but most nonfiction writing of any kind (books, articles, speeches, marketing copy, business reports, blogs, and so on) are typically stronger when they’re tighter.
So what words make me cringe? Hmmm… I’ll share a few words from the business world (since I do a lot of business-related writing) that really annoy me and one non-business word that just makes me cringe:
I know I’m not alone in reacting so strongly to specific words. I had a friend in high school who used to cringe whenever she heard the word nurture. I once worked for a Sr. VP who referred to brainstorming meetings as Ideation Sessions. He didn’t care that ideation isn’t even a real word. It drove me crazy!
It’s amazing how certain words can actually cause physical reactions in people. While writers certainly can’t predict those reactions among individual audience members, it is safe to assume that reducing jargon and overused words and phrases can make your writing more effective.
What do you think? What words make you cringe? Leave a comment and share your cringe-worthy words no matter how irrational the reasons behind your disdain might be.