Category: Words worth avoiding

Concurrences and dissents to verdicts on words by Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune

Concurrences and dissents to verdicts on words by Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune
(Note: I read Eric Zorn’s excellent column in the Chicago Tribune and enjoy his writing, even when I don’t agree with his opinions. On June 11, his column “Break up the ‘Southside’ and other verdicts on words” was particularly enjoyable. In the spirit of his court verdicts, I offer the following concurrences and dissents. Terms... Read more »

Get rid of 'expeditiously' -- quickly!

I’m listening to the news on the radio, and I just heard Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot say what needed to be done — and done “expeditiously.” Madam Mayor, with that word, you lost my attention completely. A minute after I was eager to hear what you said on the topic, your careless extra-large word wrecked... Read more »

The most annoying language: a list to enjoy and avoid

The most annoying language: a list to enjoy and avoid
Author’s note: My fellow blogger D.B. commented here and suggested a list of the most annoying language. My “watch this space” comes true today, with thanks to him. Challenges — Too often used to mean handicaps or disabilities, not puzzles. Civil disobedience — Disobeying unjust laws can be done peacefully, without looting. I doubt that... Read more »
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I've got a case of the 'shoulds,' and I need a cure

I've got a case of the 'shoulds,' and I need a cure
I should be doing other things — exercising, answering e-mail, reading a biography, getting groceries — but I want to write. So I should know what to write. But I don’t, so I should just start it… or go and do something else. Oh help! It’s the shoulds! One reason I decided to write about... Read more »

What The Chicago Manual of Style says about the ends of decades -- arrrrggh!

What The Chicago Manual of Style says about the ends of decades -- arrrrggh!
It was barely December before I started seeing mentions of year-end lists — best of, worst of, oddest of whatever a column or site reviews. Those are fine with me. But the lists of best, worst or whatever of the decade are too early. Decade means ten years — not nine. So I wanted to come... Read more »

A reply to Christopher Borrelli of the Chicago Tribune: I have problems with cliched language, too

A reply to Christopher Borrelli of the Chicago Tribune: I have problems with cliched language, too
I was delighted by a headline in the Chicago Tribune today (Jan. 15, 2019): “Cliched language is, well, problematic.” For those of you who missed Christopher Borrelli’s column under that headline, here’s a link. (The headline that caught my eye was the print version; the online version contains different, but still bothersome, words.) Borrelli refers to... Read more »
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Needless to say? Then shut up!

Needless to say? Then shut up!
I keep seeing and hearing the words “needless to say,” and I have something to point out about them: Anything that is after those words is, well, needless. So why use them? In all the noise and the “information overload” of the modern world, we all could stand to be stricter editors. So watch your... Read more »

'Championship Writing' -- Fadspeak (ca. 2000), still bad today

'Championship Writing' -- Fadspeak (ca. 2000), still bad today
My favorite chapter for today in ‘Championship Writing’ by Paula LaRocque is Chapter 8, “Fadspeak.” I enjoyed it and benefitted from its coaching when I got the book in 2002. (To catch up with another favorite, click here.) Its lessons in avoiding clichés, or “canned clutter” as LaRocque calls them, are easier to obey now that the... Read more »

The question I get most about the Chicago Air & Water Show

The question I get most about the Chicago Air & Water Show
Today is the Monday after the Chicago Air & Water Show. I have lived in Chicago for 30 years (as of October, but I was apartment-hunting during the show in ’86), and I have been asked a question about the show once too often. My jobs and my neighborhoods have meant I’ve been around out-of-town visitors... Read more »
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In defense of things that are 'old hat'

In defense of things that are 'old hat'
As spring looms, I will have a pair of decisions to make: When should I put my old tweed hat up on the shelf? and Will I really want it, looking like this, when the weather turns cold again? I don’t know when I’ll put it up on the shelf, but I know I’ll take... Read more »