Welcome to The Mad Logophile. Here we explore words; their origins, evolution, usage. Words are alive. They are born, they change and, sometimes, they die. They are our principal tool for communicating with one another. There are millions of words yet only an estimated 171,476 words are in common current use. As a logophile, I enjoy discovering new words, using them and learning about their origins. Please join us!
Sometimes a perfectly apt word or phrase gets stuck in a rut. Or it is beaten to death by overuse. Some are outdated. Some have become trite. Others are just not used properly. And then there are the ones that make your teeth grind. Your mission tonight, if you should choose to accept it (is that one?) is to delve into the darkness and shine a light on (or that?) those words and phrases that have outlived their usefulness. Or that just make us want to scream. Oh yes, we are going there (how about that one?). Come on, let's drive a few stakes through the heart of some of the worst of the crop....
Oh and, please don't take this too seriously. It is meant to be a light-hearted look at stuff that annoys the bejeesus out of us. Don't take it personally if you come across one that you use. Fair enough?
From the Grammar Department
One common grammar error is adding an "ly" to a word that is not an adverb. The most egregious of these mistakes is the firstly, secondly, lastly gaffe. These are not adverbs. They are used to itemize items or thoughts. As in: first I bite my tongue, second I count to ten and last I blow steam out of my ears.
There is some part of the human psyche that simply has to make things bigger and better than they actually may be. There are ways to do this. Adding more is not one of them. Nothing is "more better" or "more bigger." Better and bigger are good adjectives on their own. They don't need help.
Probably because of the way they sound, the words "should/could/would" can produce a real teeth grinder (at least for me). There is no such thing as "should of" or "could of" or "would of." What you're looking for is should've/could've/would've, which are the conjunction of should/could/would with "have" as in: I should've paid more attention in school then I would've learned this.
What do you say when someone asks, "How are you?" If you answer I'm good you might want to think again. You may be very good at some things, even an expert. But if you are talking about your condition you mean well. I'm well, how are you?
If you use the word literally, please make sure that what you are describing can be taken literally. It seems that this word has become metaphorical somewhere along the line. But these two concepts are polar opposites. I am pretty sure that it did not literally rain cats and dogs.
Not to get all feminist but when describing women in any profession don't use woman or lady. There are female lawyers aplenty, female doctors galore but not woman doctors or lady lawyers. You wouldn't say "man doctor" or man lawyer" would you? This is one case where the proper biological nomenclature is a good thing.
From the Department of Redundancy Department
Though we all agree that both noon and midnight are 12:00 we don't need to use both when we talk about them. Noon or midnight are sufficient to get the point across. While we're at it, since we know that noon is a time, can we not say noon-time? We don't say three o' clock time or even midnight-time. It's not necessary.
Let's talk about brevity. Brevity is brief, yes? As is a summary. So why do some insist on going the extra redundant inch? A summary is, by definition, brief. We don't need a brief summary.
If one is surrounded, it stands to reason that it is complete. Saying completely surrounded is belaboring the point. Even one of my favorite bands made this mistake.
If I give you a gift, I hardly expect payment for it. A gift is free - that's what makes it a gift. So can we lose the free gift, please?
Here's one that I've seen many of you mention before: irregardless. Some people use irregardless when they mean regardless, which means "without regard." As in: I will eat chocolate regardless of the consequences. The prefix ir- is a negative, so if you add it to a word that's already negative (like regardless) you're creating a double-negative that means “without without regard.” The use of irregardless may spring from combining the words regardless and irrespective or perhaps in following the pattern of words like irregular and irreplaceable. But regardless already has the -less suffix so it has negated regard on its own.
What do you call it when a crowd of people all move somewhere at once? That's right, an exodus. Since describing a movement as an exodus presupposes that it involves a lot of people, using mass exodus is redundant.
Someone who is an expert is qualified in a specific discipline. Therefore, calling someone a qualified expert is not necessary. Expert or qualified alone will do the job. Ask any expert.
One of the luxuries of modern life is hot water at our fingertips. And where does it come from? The water heater. Not the hot water heater. That's kind of like calling the freezer the cold food chiller. The water is not hot when it enters the heater. Cold water heater would be more accurate but what's the point? Water heater works fine. Which is a good thing because I love a hot shower.
Have you ever had a surprise party thrown for you? Did you expect it? Of course not, else it wouldn't be a surprise party. So saying that something is an unexpected surprise is -- say it with me -- redundant.
From the "You Don't Really Mean That So Stop Saying It" Department (Remember, we are talking about using something like this as filler, as just a way to have something, anything, to say. Better to say nothing than one of these.)
Unless you are a person of strong faith please don't say things like It's God's will or God works in mysterious ways or at least only if the person you are speaking to is as pious as you. Many people use these phrases as just something to say when they don't know what to say. That's neither soothing nor helpful unless it is heartfelt by both speaker and recipient. And it can have the opposite effect than desired with some people.
When did it become required for salespersons, customer service reps, etc. to tell us to have a nice day? Was it in the 70s when that yellow smiley face was ubiquitous? Well, it doesn't matter. We can call a halt to the automatic, unfelt "have a nice day" now. Thank you and have a nice year (that's the new one folks, let's get it going - ha!).
You have had a tough day at work. You lost a file, broke your keyboard, missed lunch... it's been stressful. The last thing you need is a co-worker saying I know how you feel -- but... But what? It's the "but" that makes this insincere because you know something else is going to be piled on to your woes. If you really want to express compassion and empathy just say "I know how you feel" and stop there.
Have you ever done someone a favor and had them say that they will be forever in your debt? You and I both know that's not true. It's easy enough to express thanks realistically; just say "thank you." Or buy me a bottle of the Macallan. That will work.
We see this one all the time: the non-apology apology of I'm sorry if anyone was offended. No you're not. You're just sorry you were forced to admit to screwing up. This is so deplorable because it puts the onus on the people who really were offended or harmed, making it their responsibility. No, if you mess up just say "I'm sorry" and get it over with. Don't be a wuss.
Unless you are riffing on Young Frankenstein, don't say it could be worse. Yes, it probably could, but shallow aphorisms like this won't help. Believe me, the other person has no doubt already thought about every possible way it could be worse.
Time, it is said, heals all wounds... or wounds all heels... or maybe both. And certainly time will tell. But don't be Captain Obvious. We all are perfectly aware that the passage of time will, indeed, tell.
We've all been there -- you meet up with someone you haven't seen in a long time. Maybe you made a concerted effort to shed this person(s) from your life. Maybe you never thought you'd see them again. You chat for a few moments and then one of you says let's get together or stop by sometime. Uh-oh. Now it's out there and you may end up doing something you don't want to do. Or having an unexpected visit at a bad time. Don't say it if you aren't sincere. But what can you say? Try "It was nice chatting with you" and move along. Whew!
From the "You're Making It Up" Department (let's just have a list of a few of these)
Commentate: One too many syllables here -- comment will do.
Conversate: Where did this one come from? I don't know about you but I converse.
Exploitative: Another one with an extra syllable. Exploitive is correct. Man, even the spell checker gets this wrong!
Impactful: Just isn't a word at all. Something may have an impact, though.
Orientated: What is it with extra syllables? Oriented or, if you're not, you are disoriented not disorientated.
Phraseology: No, it's not the study of phrases. It's another non-word.
Preventative: I wish we had a dollar for every extra syllable we hear. It's preventive, at least in medicine.
From the "Oh Gawd Please Stop!" Department
At the end of the day might be a good way to make a date for drinks but please stop using it to mean when something is done or when a certain period has passed. It might not even BE daytime when it does. Then won't you feel silly?
I don't know about you but I'm tired of the word friendly being used as a suffix as in user-friendly. While that particular phrase may be useful, it doesn't mean that we can glue the word to anything. My cat doesn't care if her little door is cat-friendly, she just wants to go outside.
It is what it is. Unless it's not.
That new app (there's another one) may be the newest and best but please don't tell me that it pushes the envelope. Yes, I realize that this is a speed-related term but it has strayed so far from home as to be ludicrous.
Can we stop thinking outside the box now? The box has been flattened by overuse. Perhaps we can try to think outside the cone....
One phrase that we hear far too often in politics is throw someone under the bus. Good grief, that poor bus must need a wheel alignment by now. Can't we throw folks somewhere else for awhile?
There are many things I can't understand. But I'm not going to say that I can't wrap my brain around it anymore. That's so messy, anyway.
Have you ever been doing a chore in your yard and have a neighbor wander over and ask, are you working hard or hardly working? Did you have to repress the urge to scream?
Unless you are Bill Clinton, don't tell anyone I feel your pain. They may be moved to make it so.
I know that there are many fans of The Office here and I don't want to insult you but can we lay off that's what she said? Either that or let's start giving the men equal time. That's what he said.
Remember when you were a kid and you asked you big brother (work with me here), "What you doing?" Remember the reply: Wouldn't you like to know? Well, no. Not anymore. Thanks for the complex, Bro.
We all know salesman talk for "you're getting a good deal." S/he will tell us: you're getting more bang for your buck. I like a good value as much as anyone but the only time I really want that is when buying fireworks, thanks.
Okay, I admit that I use bring it on. But, unlike Dubya, I only use it at home when the Final Jeopardy! category is to my liking. If you use it in public, someone may just take you up on it. Ouch!
OK we went there. Now that we have can we stop using don't go there so much?
Some people just can't help but talk about themselves in the third person. I'm looking at you McCain. But it's really awful when someone says I don't see myself.... Well who do you see, then? It's okay to say I -- really.
Unless it's Thanksgiving, saying I have a lot on my plate sounds kind of pretentious. Well, that's what a lot of us think, anyway. Sorry.
There are two problems, IMO, with saying that someone has more money than God. It's impossible for one thing -- God could pretty much have all the money in the Universe if He wanted. But, and here's the other problem, what the heck does God need with money? This was one issue brought up by Martin Luther, by the way.
From the Cliched Business Talk Department (let's do this as an agenda just for fun)
1. Brought to the table
a. Is overused
b. Unless it's food you are bringing, forget it.
2. Heads will roll
a. Only if you are the Queen of Hearts
b. Unless you are willing to commit murder over a file
c. If so, prepare to spend your life in prison
3. I need it yesterday
a. Um, you do realize we haven't invented time travel yet, right?
b. If you have, I want to know about it!
4. The name of the Game
a. Is baseball. Or football. Or soccer. Or basketball
b. Business is not a game
c. See Wall Street, 2008
5. On the same page
a. Are we reading a book, Sparky?
b. Because if we are I bet I'm ahead of you.
c. And I guarantee that I am not on the same wavelength, either.
6. Run with it
a. Only if I am in a marathon.
b. Then I will gladly run with whatever you want.
7. Skill Set
a. What am I, a bunch of Craftsman tools?
b. I have mad skills but they do not necessarily come in a set.
8. Take it to the next level
a. You need to take the elevator...
b. ... and I'm not going with you until you lose that lame expression.
9. The idea has legs
a. Put it in a cage so it won't run away!
b. Strangle it.
c. Then try to find a better idiom.
From the Stuff That Didn't Fit Anywhere Else Department
Movies that appeal mostly to women are called chick flicks. Okay, yeah, it's cute. It rhymes. But can we let it die a natural death now -- like Debra Winger in Terms Of Endearment?
What the heck is crunch time? Are we talking about exercise? Cold cereal? Trite, passe' phrases? Yeah, I thought so.
There are many things we all do every day. We get up, eat breakfast, do chores or go to work or school... Every day or daily describe the routine pretty well so can we not say on a daily basis anymore, please?
Somehow, many years ago, we were all convinced that there was such a thing as quality time. Some of us still think that there is a different kind of time. The rest of us know that all the time we are given in this life is quality because we have no idea of the quantity.
When, oh when will the war on terror be over? And why are we fighting a noun in the first place? There is no war on terror. But we do continue in the struggle against terrorism.
Please let me know if you thought this diary has a wow factor. Because if it does I'm going to delete it. I'd prefer that it just be interesting, informative and fun. You don't have to say "wow" after you've read it. I'm not that insecure. ;)
Now it's your turn. I kept this diary fairly short for a reason; I knew you would have lots to add. Please, unload as you will.....