Service of Words that Irritate

August 8th, 2016

Categories: Acronyms, Jargon, Words

I’ve written before about jargon that has driven me nuts since I first heard it. Judy Schuster wrote recently: “I’d love to see a post about the awful words that are being coined by people in business and in the media.”

I expanded the topic to also cover words and/or acronyms—even a phrase– that irritate.

Schuster shared some words that inspired this post:

  • Repurpose (she once threatened to wash a colleague’s mouth out with soap if he used it again)
  • Right sizing (otherwise known as layoffs)
  • Incentivize
  • Efforting  

Daniel McHenry, an actor, asked: “Why do people make up words? What’s the point of having a language?” He shared these examples:

  • Brexit
  • Gynormous

Two young information technology experts—Josh Citrón and Brandt Ziegler–objected to the IT buzzword

  • Quiesce—to momentarily/temporarily stop or pause or disable.

They added:

  • Leverage our synergy to maximize our outcomes
  • Core competencies
  • Market volatility
  • ROI

While on the subject of words, Citrón and Ziegler couldn’t stop.

  • One dislikes it when people say “On accident,” instead of “By accident” and he shivers when he hears the word “moist.”
  • Citrón objects to all the ____gate words such as travelgate or deflategate [to describe under-inflated Patriots footballs].

If you listen to enough political talk on cable, you hear words the pundits pick up and repeat, like a tossed basketball, from evening to evening, such as “writ large” [MSNBC had an outbreak of this one a few weeks ago]. Eventually writ large made my teeth grind. Did you hear dystopia make the rounds? The word means “an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one,”—Google. [See the photo below.] I heard President Obama use it at least once in a press conference or speech after the Democratic convention.

Doesn’t it feel great to get annoying words or expressions off your chest? Do you have any to add? Do some of the ones listed also irritate you?

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10 Responses to “Service of Words that Irritate”

  1. Hank Goldman Said:

    Yes. I have a long list of words that irritate me. Every word ever spoken by Donald J Trump.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Hard to refute. His word-choices baffle and cause anxiety.

  3. EAM Said:

    Thanks Hank, I’m with you. And, I hated it when he said, “I have the best temperament.” I hate it when colleagues misuse words, “I seen it.” instead of “I saw it.” No one as replacement for anyone. Can we all just use correct English? Also when people mix up infer and imply.

  4. Donna Boyle Schwartz Said:

    Donna wrote on Facebook: Guilty of using “monetize” and “overly square footed” in the context of retailing….

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    DJT’s “best temperament” comment is the equivalent to “I’m creative,”–and even “I’m a great writer.” In my experience, most often, these people are none of the above.

    With the help of Google, there should be no misused words–it’s so easy to check these days!

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Monetize doesn’t make my teeth grind, which I can’t say about “overly square footed!” Ohhhh!

  7. Lucrezia Said:

    I have a list of irritants, but not bothersome enough to remember on a beautiful day. Should one come to mind, it’s fun and good mental exercise to find a substitute.

    Think of this folks: If an irritating word is the worst thing that ever happens to a person, he/she is luckier than 99.999999% of the population.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Giving voice to irritating word choices will not change the world but it’s a harmless way to let off steam.

  9. hb Said:

    For years my wife and I have been customers of a large reputable financial services company located in San Antonio, Texas. The other day, I had a question I wanted answered by a human being, not a machine. I needed to know what the right address was to which to send a document. I finally got what sounded like a sweet young thing between whose thick southern drawl, and computer related made up words and jargon like “app,” was virtually unintelligible to me. It didn’t help that she seemed to have never heard of “snail” mail. The whole experience irritated the “Bejesus” out of me and made me not a little fearful of sending the document. Then I realize that I’m the one who is “out of it” and mailed it off.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    What you experienced is inexcusable. I think that the company is at fault for hiring someone who cannot speak clearly using words anyone would understand.

    That was the first thing I learned in my first job in PR working on an account in which we wrote about complicated health issues. My goal was to write my press releases and cover notes clearly, so that any man or woman on the street would understand every sentence. It has been my guiding principal. Unfortunately, it isn’t everyone’s. I get funny, unintelligible releases all the time from PR people sending me notices about their client’s customer service computer programs. Even if I wrote about such things I’d not bother with these products as I’d not know what the dickens they do or how they do it!

    I have represented for years countless successful people in marketing and I’ve observed that those who do not know what they are doing tend to pull out the $50 words. It’s a way to camouflage ignorance while trying to impress.

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