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Words to avoid: the most overused words and phrases in the English language. (Editing).

If language is currency, using overused words and phrases Words and Phrases®

A multivolume set of law books published by West Group containing thousands of judicial definitions of words and phrases, arranged alphabetically, from 1658 to the present.
 causes inflation and thereby cheapens one's own writing and speaking. To maintain the pristine value of communications, I'd suggest banning the use of the following:

Literally--Lately, it's become one of the least literally used words in our language. Overuse overuse Health care The common use of a particular intervention even when the benefits of the intervention don't justify the potential harm or cost–eg, prescribing antibiotics for a probable viral URI. Cf Misuse, Underuse.  begets misuse. The word has become an intensifier in·ten·si·fi·er  
n. Grammar
See intensive.


a word, esp. an adjective or adverb, that intensifies the meaning of the word or phrase that it modifies, for example, very
 rather than an adverb adverb: see part of speech; adjective.  signifying "in the literal or strict sense."

"I literally died laughing," a woman recently told me. I wanted to reply, "You look alive to me, if also a bit slow-witted."

* Hopefully--Talk about overuse begetting misuse. This word has long lost its literal meaning as an adjective signifying "with hope," as in, "He looked hopefully into her eyes." Now the word is just plain filler, the crab grass crab grass

digitaria spp., eleusine indica.
 of adverbs, blighting the linguistic landscape.

* Actually--I think this is the signature word of the current twentysomethings, and it's rapidly spreading throughout the population. Listen for it, and you'll hear actually dozens of times a day. It is, however, the least harmful, or innocuous, of these overused words.

Actually, it's somewhat appealing. It gives the speaker a slight but impressive aura of knowing more than you expected. You ask for Mr. Reeves over the telephone and the receptionist replies, "Actually... [usually followed by a pause] Mr. Reeves is not in his office at the present time."

* Bottom line--As reported in Editor & Publisher, Sanders Lamont, ombudsman ombudsman (äm`bədzmən) [Swed.,=agent or representative], public official appointed to deal with individual complaints against government acts.  for The Sacramento Bee, recently conducted a five-year electronic file search of cliches that have been printed too often in his paper, and the winner (or loser) was bottom line, with no fewer than 2,638 appearances.

Like military and sports terms, business ones enjoy a dismaying (and often inappropriate) popularity in our language. Bottom line rates a wide variety of human activity and emotion with a commercial, or a capitalist, measuring stick.

"The bottom line is she doesn't love you."

"Her heart has a bottom line?"

"That's right. You have no ROI (Return On Investment) The monetary benefits derived from having spent money on developing or revising a system. In the IT world, there are more ways to compute ROI than Carter has liver pills (and for those of you who never heard of that expression, it means a lot). ." What happened to the more poignant unrequited love This article may contain original research or unverified claims.

Please help Wikipedia by adding references. See the for details.
This article has been tagged since September 2007.

* Address--One can address envelopes and address an audience, but the recent proliferation of this verb has--like kudzu-- choked out precise, meaningful verbs. "Address this issue" is probably the most common phrase coming out of Washington, D.C. these days.

Address as a verb is the most overused of all these overused words, but its misuse has been around long enough that Jacques Barzun Jacques Martin Barzun (b. November 30, 1907) is a leading American historian of ideas and culture. His reputation is that of a political and social conservative and an eloquent defender of tradition in the practice of higher education and scholarship.  railed against it in 1992:

"Everything these days is addressed instead of being dealt with, discussed, stated, mentioned, defined, taken up, met, treated, acknowledged, recognized, settled by the court, taken care of, resolved."

Barzun also summed up the problem of what he called "vogue words" which "reduce accuracy." "By appearing again and again in all sorts of situations they keep better-fitting words out of use.
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Author:Swift, Paul
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Nov 15, 2001
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