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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Most Hated Words in the English Language

Several weeks ago on NPR I heard someone talking about a list of the most hated words. I’m not sure which list they were talking about because when I went to Google to check it out, there were an incredible amount of lists of most hated words. The Vocabulary Review has a blog where you can list the Worst Words in your opinion. You can also sign up for the free Daily Vocabula by sending your email address to:

Then Madeleine Crum on the Huff Post listed “9 Words You Probably Hate (And Why You Hate Them). They described our feelings about certain words as a love/hate relationship. The words we hate make us cringe, and there’s actually a word aversion that makes us physically sick, if you can believe that. They listed words like “yolk” and “slurp” because they produce a visceral reaction. I guess that’s why one shouldn’t talk about road kill at the dinner table. Following are a list of the nine words they list as ones you probably hate. I’ve shortened much of the reasoning for why it’s a hated word and for some have added my own thoughts. 

Literally:  Linguistic prescriptivists beware: This may give you a literal headache. A non-literal definition of “literally” has been deemed acceptable by Google. It can now be used as an emphasizer, as in, “Miley’s VMA performance literally shocked me.”

Moist:  This word ranks among hoist and cloister as one of the most phonetically displeasing components of the English language. Plus, according to Slate, “It’s squishy-seeming, and, to some, specifically evocative to certain body parts and undergarments.

Panties: Much the same reasoning as the above words although others think it’s an okay word.

Foodie:  Defined as “a person with a particular interest in food.” According to Huff Post, “most people have a particular interest in food.” Duh! So most of us are foodies whether we know that or not.

Alright:  This should absolutely not be a word, but it is. It’s a weird alignment of all right. A phrase that actually makes sense, but Huff Post or Madeleine doesn’t like it because it lacks imagination and looks like a typo.

Curate:  People hate this word because it’s everywhere and not just about museums. Today people curate Twitter feeds, Etsy shops and second-hand clothing stores.

Zeitgeist:  It’s a German word meaning “spirit of the time,” and Huff Post thinks it’s overused and almost always disrupts the flow of a sentence or conversation.

Impactful:  It’s not a word in the dictionary yet, but Huff Post finds it irritating business jargon. Plus it can describe everything from a politician’s haircut to a startup’s fourth quarter earnings.

Paradigm:  It’s become a canned way of saying “You’ve gotta change your perspective, man.”

Stephen Adkins, University Harold Reporter lists the Top 13 Hated Words in English Language (2013). They are: Selfie, Twerk/twerking, Hashtag, Twittersphere, Mister Mom, T-Bone, On Steroids, ageddon, apocalypse, intellectually/morally bankrupt, Obamacare, adversity and fan base.

In addition to words there are phrases that are annoying, too. Three of mine are: In my honest opinion. Why would you give me your dishonest opinion? To make a long story short almost always follows an already long story. In other words. If what had been said previously was said concisely and in simple English, the message wouldn’t have to be repeated, would it? As far as words I hate, it's any denigrating or derogatory words that demean others.

What are words or phrases you hate?


Kara Cerise said...

Fun blog, Gloria. I hear "ironic" and variations like "ironical" used incorrectly. I think people confuse it with "coincidence" or the definition is in the process of changing.

Jim Jackson said...

Some interesting insights into how people react to words. For example, I've never had a problem with "moist."

I'm still fighting wars long lost -- such as using "like" when "as" is correct.

The one that drives me to teeth grinding is the misuse of "me" as in "Me and Julio went to the library." Not only does it use the wrong word, but it places the speaker ahead of the other party.

Those two wrongs do not make a right.

~ Jim

KM Rockwood said...

In my honest opinion, in today’s zeitgeist this blog should be impactful on everyone’s paradigm. We should literally curate our all our language to be sure it’s alright. To make a long story short, I’m not sure about the use of panties and moist—while neither strikes me as literally offensive, I have to agree that in conjunction they are pretty questionable. Especially for foodies. Ironically, I was just thinking about my use of "like"--I use it (admittedly improperly) instead of "as if" in some situation, when I'm using a 1st person POV where it seems appropriate, or in dialogue. But I do get called on it all the time. (And me and Julio were down by the school yard, not at the library.)

Warren Bull said...

Real facts ( as opposed to imaginary facts }

Empower sounds like something done to someone else. Why don't people discover their power within themselves?

Patg said...

Sorry, a 'foodie' is a person who brings 'all' the food to a get-together.
Moist, to me, is rather a nice sounding word. Oh well, to each her own.
Panties just sounds old, and seems like something women should get away from and use the exact word. Briefs, bikinis, thongs, hi-cuts, etc.
Like the fairy-godmother in the Leslie Caron version of Cinderella, I like some words just for their sound, and dislike others for the same reason.

Shari Randall said...

I blame newscasters for a lot of these.
Another usage that is creeping in is "no problem" instead of "you're welcome." What's wrong with you're welcome?
Now I'm going down to the schoolyard with Julio and KM.

E. B. Davis said...

I hate it when people say "grow your audience" like they aren't big enough. So, what--add fertilizer, water, place in sun, and--wah-la--bigger audience!

The other word I hate only because of its ridiculous historic spelling--dearth. Let's either pronounce it "deerth" like it is spelled or change the spelling to "dirth" the way is sounds please!

I won't say anything about these words, but I hate them: hickie, splodge, debacle.

Gloria Alden said...

Thanks Kara, Jim, Warren, Pat, Shari, and E.B. for your comments, while I was out of town and didn't have internet access. And I especially like'd your humerous comment on the words in the blog. For years I fought the me and my friend etc. in my classroom. Looking puzzles I'd say "Me went to the . . .whatever the kid said. They'd look even more puzzled until I'd point out starting a sentence with me was baby talk if they were including themselves, it should be I and second. Funny E.B. I don't like that, either, and I like your imagery.