More words I hate

And for further persiflage on a no-braining day, here is the latest list of words I abhor. You can see the influence of PuffHo here!

“Gets real”, as in “Chrissie Teigen gets real about morning sickness.” What it apparently means is “tells the truth for once” or “says something unpleasant to hear”.

“Clap back”. This odious phrase is spreading despite its complete uselessness as a metaphor. As Orwell noted, if you use a metaphorical phrase it should enable you to envision something tangible. But if you “clap back” at someone, it doesn’t obviously conjure up that you’re arguing or fighting with someone. It just conjures up someone being applauded, and, as some stage performers do, applauds back at the audience. But that’s an exchange of respect, not of acrimony.

Look at this! Is that bad writing or what?

“Drag”, meaning “denigrates”, as in “Twitter drags Melania for her red Christmas trees.” Here’s yet another PuffHo example. Aren’t there other words that are just as good but aren’t used to show off how hip you are?

“Throw shade on”. Means the same as “drag” and “clap back.” The third way to show that you’re cool with the argot of Millennials. Yes, this has been around a while, but that doesn’t make me like it any better.

I have to stop reading this site. . .

If you haven’t yet contributed you own phrases or words that are bête noire, do so in the comments.

223 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Sub

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 31, 2019 at 3:20 am | Permalink

      Why do you hate subs?

      (Sorry, couldn’t resist. 🙂

      cr

    • Posted January 31, 2019 at 3:46 am | Permalink

      I hate that word in the sense of sandwich made in a large roll that is creeping over here from the USA.

  2. Barbara Radcliff
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    I abhor the tautology ‘free gift’! If one has to pay for a ‘gift’ surely it’s not one at all.

    • JezGrove
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      Agreed 100%. (My own pet hate: statements like “I’m giving it 110%!”)

      • Ann German
        Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

        AND “gifting’ instead of “giving.”

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted January 30, 2019 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

          The one I hate like this is, “Filmed before a live studio audience.” What other kind of studio audience is there? A dead one?

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted January 31, 2019 at 3:19 am | Permalink

            Oh, nice bit of sarcasm there. 🙂

            I suppose it’s meant to imply the audience was there while it was being shot, rather than (for example) being shown the finished product and their reactions recorded (or, worse, canned laughter).

            See the Wikipedia article on ‘Laugh Track’ for more than you wanted to know…

            cr

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted January 31, 2019 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

            What other kind of studio audience is there? A dead one?

            The audience for episodes 2 and onwards. The same audience as for episode 1, but with the dire effects of the programme clear to see.
            How long, I wonder, until the morgues (in the newspaper sense) of film companies are raided for footage and shots of dead actors, and they are then resurrected as digital avatars. Or am I just showing how little attention I pay to the movie industry, and it is already happening.

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted February 2, 2019 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

              It’s already happening. And one of the things infinite… is probably referring to (I haven’t read the Wikipedia article) is that most, of not all, of the people on canned laughter are dead they were recorded so long ago.

              I worked in radio for a while and one day, an ad they were producing needed crowd noise for one of those: Give me an a – crowd yelling A etc. They got me and three of my team and the announcer yelled give me an a (etc.) and we yelled in response. Then we did that over a few times, and each time the technician added our voices to the same track until there was a crowd responding instead of just four people.

    • Charles Minus
      Posted January 31, 2019 at 12:54 am | Permalink

      Yeah, that’s up there with fake psychic. As if there’s any other kind.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted January 31, 2019 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

        False prophet!

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted January 31, 2019 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      I think it is more a pleonasm than a tautology, all gifts are free, but not everything free is a gift.
      And indeed, as you point out, most ‘free gifts’ are neither free nor a gift.

  3. W.T. Effingham
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    “So random.” As in , “Sorry you had to help me with this flat tire at such a bad time and place, Dad, but the way it happened was So random.”

  4. notsecurelyanchored
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    “Speak truth to power” is at the top of my 2019 Banned Words List.

    • Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      Even Noam Chomsky has fumed about that — vain egotism and grandstanding, and power knows the truth anyway and doesn’t care.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 31, 2019 at 3:07 am | Permalink

        +1000 on that.

        cr

  5. Merilee
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    For some reason I don’t mind “throw shade”, but don’t like the other ones.

    • Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      I also don’t mind ‘throw shade’, but it is just NOT something that Queen Elizabeth would do to Trump. It implies coolness, which the Queen has spent her entire life evading with complete success, and no one should do that to Trump. Way too soft.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 31, 2019 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        I saw a photo recently of some sort of protest or strike in California, where they too had a balloon Baby Trump floating above proceedings. I’m wondering if the balloon was made in the USA, or if it was imported and got past the customs officers on a day they weren’t being paid.

    • freiner
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      I don’t mind “throw shade on” so much, either, but I think I’d appreciate it more if it meant to obfuscate, playing directly off “throw light on.”

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      Me too. Though I don’t remember ever using is, I think I would if the opportunity arose, especially opposite “throw light on”.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted January 31, 2019 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      I suspect that ‘throwing a shade’ is a loose form of ‘casting a shadow’ (probably started by a non-native English speaker of possibly Dutch origin).

  6. DW
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    And here I thought PuffHo firing their entire opinion division would raise the level of discourse… I should know better.

    • Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      That made me laugh, for their entire website is one big Opinion Section!

  7. Paul Beard
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Most unique. This is presumably more unique than the recently sighted unusually unique. Both of these used by guests on the BBC.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      Unique is like pregnant — either you are or you aren’t.

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      Yes, qualified absolutes in general, and unique in particular, which is now almost always “very” or “most” make me grind my teeth

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      Agreed!

    • Josh Lincoln
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

      Yes, that has long been one of the things that make me cringe.

      • Posted January 30, 2019 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

        More perfect.

        • Posted January 30, 2019 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

          In order to create…

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted January 31, 2019 at 3:06 am | Permalink

            More equal.

            As in the immortal phrase, ‘But some are more equal than others’.

            (Orwell was a genius).

            cr

  8. freiner
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Great, two turns of phrase I had thankfully never heard before (“clap back” and “drag”)for me to throw shade on.

    • Robert
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      Excellent.

  9. Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    PCCE drops some learning in this post. Def a mic drop. PCCE be like, ‘hold my beer’.

    • Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      Two thumbs up 🙂

    • Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      “Dropped a new record” is another phrase I detest.

      • Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

        I know! There was once a time when, if I ever dropped my brother’s (vinyl) record, I’d get a clap at the back of my head!

  10. John Crisp
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    PCC is getting old and crusty! I’m not quite as old, but equally crusty. Nonetheless, at least the first expression, “get real”, is very much a part of PCC’s past and mine. I suspect it is related to the novel “Catcher in the Rye” and its critique of phoniness. Getting real is the opposite of being phony. As for the later stuff, clapping and shading, I tend to agree, but I guess they will come to be as natural as any other linguistic usage that was once perceived as either novel or corrupt.

    • Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      Getting real also means “something unpleasant to hear”, as our host notes here, which seems to apply in the Chrissie Teigen and AOC titles mentioned. I doubt whether the headlines are suggesting both usually tell fibs.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      I assumed it was from African-American culture. The first time I heard a variant was in a Dave Chappelle show sketch, “When keeping it real goes wrong.” (The Brenda version)

    • Posted January 30, 2019 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      I like a crisp crust!

      /@

      • Posted January 30, 2019 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

        Call me flaky, but I prefer a softer, more buttery crust.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      The eight people at my place for Christmas Day and I played a new game. Everyone gets a set of cards, each with a phrase on it, then there are (usually hilarious) picture cards. In each round, each person matches a phrase to the same picture, and the best phrase wins. It’s advertised as “a game for millennials”. Six of us were 48 and older, and the other three were teenagers.

      Phrases like “lib fam” came up on the cards that none of us older ones had a clue what they meant, and the teenagers’ explanations were no help to us whatsoever. (However, we worked out that “lib fam” is a Really Good Thing (though how it’s good is another matter!), and the phrase is now a family joke.)

    • Posted January 30, 2019 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

      I’ve used “get real”, but only in the imperative & in response to someone spouting nonsense.

  11. Linda Calhoun
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    I am annoyed by any phrase that is presented as a sentence, when it should be attached to the previous sentence with a comma, but is left to hang out on its own.

    “Sentences” that do not contain both a subject and a verb are not sentences.

    L

    • Posted January 30, 2019 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

      So true.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 31, 2019 at 3:03 am | Permalink

      ‘“Sentences” that do not contain both a subject and a verb are not sentences.’

      Tell that to the TV news people!

      Words ending in ‘-ing’ are NOT verbs.
      ‘Police warning people to stay clear’ is NOT a valid sentence, it should have ‘are’ or ‘were’ in it.

      That omission really gets my goat.

      I often find myself screaming ironically at the TV set “Where the f***ing verb in that sentence?”

      cr

      • Posted February 1, 2019 at 10:45 am | Permalink

        Well, it’s valid in a way, if you think of it as a caption to a picture.

        “Cat eating a bird.”

        /@

    • Posted January 31, 2019 at 3:52 am | Permalink

      This sentence no verb.

      (Stolen from GEB)

  12. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    “Drag”, meaning “denigrates”

    Agreed! “Drag” should be reserved for the usage the Queen and her favorite blue-eyed soul band, the Buckinghams, intended:

  13. Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    I through out ‘Perfect’ a few years ago and I definitely got some traction. Since then I’ve heard far fewer people exclaiming ‘Perfect’ as an answer to my answers.

    I’m glad I’ve never heard any of those terms, save “throw some shade”. They all sound ghastly.

    And thanks for looking at HuffPo…maybe a necessary evil to see how the otherwise lives. I’ve not ventured there since 2007.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      “Exactly.”

      I hated it when someone I knew said that constantly 15 years ago but now I find myself saying.

      • Posted January 30, 2019 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

        Exactly. 😉

        -Ryan

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted January 30, 2019 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

        I realized how often I said “exactly” when my then three-year-old nephew started saying it all the time! (I mended my ways.)

  14. JezGrove
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Sentences that include “and she was like …” when the speaker means “and she said …”.

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      Hear hear! So irritating!

      • yazikus
        Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

        I’ve heard the variation, “and she was all…” but usually to include a gesticulation made by the original speaker.

    • Posted January 31, 2019 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      “… was like” actually seems to mean that a paraphrase follows, which is a useful indicator if done consistently.

  15. Jenny Haniver
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    I hadn’t known of “clap back” and that meaning of “drag,” though I did know the others. Would that I had remained ignorant of all of them. These are the kinds of expressions that dull the language centers of the brain, they don’t excite them, not for me.

    I will carefully peruse the comments on this post and learn quite a bit, as well as come away, not simply feeling but knowing that I’m woefully deficient in my linguistic competence of my native tongue. But live and learn, which is what I hope to do on both counts.

  16. Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    What is it with the seemingly random capitalisations and quotation marks around certain words in every tweet by that f—ing moron? Did he pick it up from Russians whose English is as bad as his?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      What’s he been “smocking” anyway? (He’s spelled it that way repeatedly.)

    • W.T. Effingham
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      His Russian handlers all have a much better command of English than he has ever been able to convey despite his script committee’s efforts.

    • Posted January 30, 2019 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

      It has been a calling card of the poorly educated here in the US for quite some time. The use of several exclamation points (frequently including the numeral “1”) is a related phenomenon.

  17. Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Ending a sentence with “…said no one ever!” to negate it. A variant of ending a sentence with “not!” popular about twenty years ago.

  18. eric
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    But if you “clap back” at someone, it doesn’t obviously conjure up that you’re arguing or fighting with someone.

    You’re supposed to picture someone clapping slowly, for sarcastic emphasis.

    It still might not be a great metaphor, but the gesture it refers to *is* one of publicly/obviously opposing someone’s stated point

    • BJ
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      That never even occurred to me. Are you sure that’s what it’s supposed to mean? I figured it meant loudly clapping one’s hands together in front of someone’s face to express disapproval. That was the only interpretation I could muster.

    • Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      I believe “clap back” is a retort with each word of it punctuated with a clap in the person’s face or their direction to indicate dérision.

    • Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      It is an idiom. Like many of these things the meaning is not obvious.
      I have seen Titania McGrath use the hand clapping emoji to convey just this thing. In parody, of course: *👏🏽*👏🏽*👏🏽*

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

        Any buzzword or jargon or cliché is fine, I think, when used in parody.

    • Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      According to Mirriam-Webster it derives from the title of a 2003 rap song by Ja Rule.

      • Posted January 31, 2019 at 2:53 am | Permalink

        If the Fyre festival fiasco has taught us anything it is Never Follow Ja Rule ANYWHERE!

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 31, 2019 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      I thought that was a “golf clap”? Or is that some unpleasant STI which one gets from playing at Mar-a-Lago without using latex gloves and a surgical mask?

  19. Steve Pollard
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    The verb ‘pivot’ is suddenly getting a widespread airing in the UK, mostly in the Brexit context, eg: “Theresa May needs to pivot towards the Europhile members of her party”. I am bored with it already.

    • BJ
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      I feel like that’s a tried and true phrase within policy (especially foreign policy) and perfectly describes the action. I like pivot.

      Plus, I also get to hear it a lot in hockey.

      • Steve Pollard
        Posted January 30, 2019 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

        Do you mean ice hockey, or proper hockey?

        • BJ
          Posted January 30, 2019 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

          There’s no difference, and don’t you dare tell me otherwise.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted January 31, 2019 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

          Proper hockey, or hokey hockey?

    • Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      That’s one I’ve mentioned here previously. I first heard it in the 2016 US election when everyone was saying Trump should pivot and talk about policy. Completely pointless term. You pivot in basketball; in a conversation you change the subject.

      • BJ
        Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        I think it works because, like in basketball, you pivot your stance. For example, we could say that, in 1939, Great Britain pivoted from a stance of appeasement to aggression toward (and then war with) Germany.

        I do agree that it’s oft overused.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      I started hearing “pivot” in this sense in 2008, as I recall, in reference to Obama’s great “Philadelphia Speech” on race relations, where he turned from discussing Rev. Jeremiah Wright to talking about his white grandmother in Kansas.

      I took it to be derived from baseball’s sad lexicon, referring to what a second baseman or shortstop does when turning a double play — you know, like Tinkers to Evers to Chance.

      • Steve Pollard
        Posted January 30, 2019 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

        Ah, now, you’ve totally lost me there!

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 30, 2019 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

          See here, old boy. 🙂

  20. BJ
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never even heard “clap back,” but I do my absolute best to avoid sites that have headlines like these. They use these phrases because they see people on Twitter using them and know they’ll get more clicks if they write like they’re hip.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      I haven’t heard that one either. Does that mean I’m old?

      • BJ
        Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

        I’m not yet in an age bracket where I’m considered old. I think it just means we don’t pay attention to crap 🙂

        • GBJames
          Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

          Somebody probably thinks you are old!

          • BJ
            Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

            Well, yeah, I know some kids in my family. They think I’m old, but I also play Mario Kart with them, so I don’t think they perceive me as that old. But I’m not even close to the point of a mid-life crisis yet! I’m just having other existential crises, which is nothing new.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 31, 2019 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Zaphod said it better : “I am so hip I have difficulty seeing over my pelvis”

  21. Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    “reach out to”

    – instead of ask or talk to.

    “lemme” – a word US TV presenters seem to preface every question they ask with.

    • Ann German
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      with you on “reach out” – my comment’s below

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 30, 2019 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        It’s always struck me as corporatese — “I’ll reach out to the HR department on that.”

        Kinda like “run it up a flag pole” a few generations ago.

    • Posted January 31, 2019 at 3:59 am | Permalink

      We’ve had “reach out” before. Somebody defended it as being medium agnostic. i.e. If I say “I’ll reach out to you tomorrow” it means I could phone you, but I’ll probably just dash off an email.

  22. Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    News-people who proclaim that they are “going to break it down for you” implying that I am too dense to figure it out for myself.

    • Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      That’s because if they said they are “going to analyze it for you” people would switch channels.

      • Ann German
        Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

        Imagine what would happen if they said, “We’re analyzing it.”

      • BJ
        Posted January 30, 2019 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

        • BJ
          Posted January 30, 2019 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

          If every Vox article “breaking down” an issue was just this video, I’d like them a lot more. And have a lot more respect for them.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      They also talk about “getting over one’s skis” as if skiing is a universal experience. I think it’s a snobby expression.

      The other one I don’t like is “take a listen.” I understand it’s a parallel to “take a look” (and analogous meanings are a common linguistic phenomenon, so it’s natural)… but I still don’t like it.

      • GBJames
        Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        The “skis” one is kind of odd since, unless you are doing some kind of aerobatics, you are supposed to be over your skis. The alternative, being under your skis would imply that you just took a tumble.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 30, 2019 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

          I have no idea, even literally, how one would ‘get over’ ones skis.

          (Mind you, on my one experience of skiing – up a mountain in half a blizzard – I found two things: They go backwards as easily as they do forwards – relevant if you try to stop by turning uphill; and the most reliable way to stop is by falling over sideways.)

          cr

          • GBJames
            Posted January 30, 2019 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

            You just need to stand up to be over your skis. Assuming you are wearing them.

        • BJ
          Posted January 30, 2019 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

          In skiing, getting over ones skis means leaning too far forward, which leads to a loss of balance. It most often happens on moguls and jumps. Once you lean too far over your skis there’s no getting back, and you’re going to take a nasty tumble.

          • GBJames
            Posted January 30, 2019 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

            Right. But it is a bad turn of phrase. It would be better to say “get out in front of your skis”, or something like that, IMO. (As a former skier who has had his share of tumbles, I “get” the problem. I just don’t like the phrase.)

            • BJ
              Posted January 30, 2019 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

              Yeah, I could see how that makes more sense, but “getting over your skis” is how most people say it (at least in the skiing circles in which I’ve traveled), and it’s a bit less cumbersome.

          • Posted January 31, 2019 at 4:03 am | Permalink

            I’ve been a skier for thirty years. I’ve never heard anybody use that phrase in relation to actual skiing. I’ve skied exclusively in Europe so maybe it’s something they only say in the New World ski resorts.

            If I had to guess, I would have said “getting over your skis” means getting your weight over the middle of your skis instead of leaning back, i.e. it is a good thing.

            • Posted January 31, 2019 at 11:41 am | Permalink

              jeremy – this is precisely what I was taught over 5 decades ago whilst learning to ski on Mount Wawasee, nee Buzzard’s Hill, just south of New Paris, IN. That should give a clue about the difficulty of those slopes!

              • Posted January 31, 2019 at 11:48 am | Permalink

                There’s a ski hill in Indiana?? Wow, that’s almost as weird as the one in Dubai. (At least in Indiana it would naturally snow, though.)

              • Posted February 5, 2019 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

                Keith – well the ski hill lasted about 25 years commercially. It had a bit over 1000 feet of vertical drop, some snow-making and lights for night skiing. Probably the best amenity was the lodge where many decent bands played on weekend nights. Hopefully it has returned to a low-key sledding run. I just found a Facebook page about bringing it back.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 30, 2019 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

          I think it’s derived from ski-jumping, where getting out over one’s skis can lead to disaster — like that poor bastard in the “agony of defeat” portion of the old intro to Wide World of Sports.

          I seem to recall hearing it first used years ago right after a Winter Olympics.

          • Posted January 30, 2019 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

            In flight, ski jumpers appear to do their level best to be “over their skis.”

            • Posted January 30, 2019 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

              Of course, they’d better not land that way.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted January 30, 2019 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

              True, but I think the saying started out as getting “too far over” one’s skis. That can be a problem in ski-jumping. I think it was shortened in its use by the punditry class to “got out over his skis.”

      • BJ
        Posted January 30, 2019 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        I can imagine using the former regularly in places where skiing in nearly universal (and, for those who don’t ski, still know the mechanics of it), like in Finland, Norway, etc.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

      Academics will “unpack it” and apparently this is better than analyzing it or breaking it down. You can get tenure for unpacking.

  23. Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    It seems that every form of deception, misdirection or manipulation can now be called “gaslighting”, as in “Trump is gaslighting America.” The word only adds ambiguity.

    • BJ
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      That’s one of my absolute most hated words because of the way it’s become used in the last few years. It used to be a perfectly cromulent word.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 30, 2019 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

        I think the blame on that one traces back to The Dan:

        • BJ
          Posted January 30, 2019 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

          No way, man. I don’t even know what it’s supposed to mean there, and don’t you blame Steely Dan for anything.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted January 30, 2019 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

            Means to make the other person think they’re cray-cray. 🙂 I think Becker & Fagen got it from an old British movie.

            They were the first ones I recall using it as verb, anyway.

            • BJ
              Posted January 30, 2019 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

              I know what it means (or what it used to mean before the last few years), I just don’t understand how it means that in the context of the song’s lyrics.

            • BJ
              Posted January 30, 2019 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

              I also didn’t know it was a play, but I’ve seen the 1944 American film version.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted January 30, 2019 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

                What’s the beef with it? It’s useful, I think, in that it’s the only concise, one-word term to refer to the phenomenon, that I know of anyway.

              • BJ
                Posted January 30, 2019 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

                It’s been co-opted in recent years by the social justice crowd to mean that any time someone is disagreeing with them (especially a man disagreeing with a woman), they’re “gaslighting” them because the social justice view is obviously right, so arguing against it is trying to gaslight people. It’s also been used in various other inappropriate ways that basically amount to disagreeing with the wrong person/group or view.

                I agree that it’s an excellent word to refer to the phenomenon to which it’s supposed to refer, but it’s become ubiquitous in some circles, and not for its correct usage.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 31, 2019 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, I’ve heard that one a fair bit and it is just utterly confusing. I mean, I use gas lighting a fair bit – as long as you’re careful to dispose of the slaked lime properly, it’s a perfectly reasonable way of lighting a cave, particularly if you’re away from a source of electrickery. It has only come under threat with the arrival of efficient enough LEDs that you can recharge them by portable solar panels.
      For a word that is meant to communicate something, it communicates nothing.

  24. Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    All the ones that people are bringing up I think ‘oh, that one! That one is the worst!’. Then I read the next one and revise my opinion.

  25. ladyatheist
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    I think the shade-throwing comes from African-American culture. I don’t mind this one because there isn’t another way of saying this that would have the same connotation.

    English does have a lot of very negative words and meanings, but yet we keep coming up with negative ideas that haven’t already been succinctly expressed.

  26. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    “Throw shade on,” I don’t really mind. It passes Orwell’s test, I think.

    It started out kinda hipsterish and passed rapidly from there to cliché. I don’t recall ever using it during its brief time in the sweet spot between the two, and would avoid it now, but if others want to have at it, I’ve got no strong feelings against it.

  27. grasshopper
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    I hate freudian slips, when you say one thing but mean amother. And now I’ll just mount my well boiled icicle, and ride out of town.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      “Well boiled icicle” would qualify as a Spoonerism, I believe. 🙂

      • grasshopper
        Posted January 30, 2019 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

        A Spoonerism of sorts was allegedly published in a Texas newspaper wherein it referred to a certain Colonel as a “bottle-scarred veteran”. The newspaper published a correction which then referred to him as a “battle-scared veteran.”
        https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/21625884

  28. Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    “Literally”….. this is overused and inappropriately used, particularly by the younger generation.

  29. Shirley Beaver
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    I’m starting a global movement against “in terms of”, a mathematical expression that seems to have been appropriated by everyone, to be inserted into every second sentence. Listen to current affairs comment programs on TV…
    Oh, and “actually”, repeated every six words.

  30. Roger
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    “Mic drop”. It makes it sound like there is a guy named Mike and somebody dropped him. Mike never did nothing to nobody.

  31. Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    “No problem” should be banned.
    When I say thank you, I like to hear “You’re welcome” welcome.
    Getting the response “No problem” is not gge right response.

    • Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      Not the right response.

      • yazikus
        Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        If someone says, ‘can you do x thing?’ and the person responds with’no problem’, I have no problem with that.

        • Posted January 30, 2019 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

          I grit my teeth.

      • Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

        No problem.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 31, 2019 at 2:48 am | Permalink

          The New Zealand version is ‘no worries’.

          I use it myself, after I’ve done something for somebody** and they thank me, I say ‘no worries’. I suppose the older version would be ‘don’t mention it’ or ‘it was nothing’ but that sounds quite dismissive, almost rude.

          (** Hey, I’m not a frickin’ charity, it doesn’t happen that often 😉

          cr

    • Ann German
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      Drives me nuts that every time a talking head on NPR says “Thank you” to a reporter in the field, that reporter says, “Thank you.” Never, “you’re welcome.” WTF

      • Posted January 30, 2019 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

        Thank you.
        No, thank you.
        No, thank you.

        It can go on forever

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 30, 2019 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

          Just ask those cartoon characters Alphonse and Gaston, or the Goofy Gophers.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted January 31, 2019 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

          Didn’t the Pythons do that once?

    • Posted January 30, 2019 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      “You’re welcome” seems a bit arrogant to me, perhaps because of people saying “you’re welcome” before the other person even says “thank you”. When I say “no problem”, I mean helping out literally isn’t a problem.

      -Ryan

      • Posted January 30, 2019 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

        When you thank someone it is because they have gone out of there way to do something for you. Made an effort. Solved a problem. When I go something for something I want them to think it was a problem for me, but so did it for them anyway at huge personal sacrifice and they should be grateful.

        If they say no problem it means they are saying they did not do anything for you that took an effort. Demeans what they did.

        That is my take anyway. (Hearing that phrase probably annoys someone?

        You’re welcome!

    • Commen-tater
      Posted January 31, 2019 at 12:08 am | Permalink

      Arggh, this, especially from servers and cashiers.
      “Can I please have a straw?”
      “Here you go.”
      “Thank you.”
      “No problem.”
      Great, I’d hate to think doing your damn job was a problem.

  32. yazikus
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    The use of ‘trolls’ to describe pretty much anything the person saying it wants it to. It is not a useful term anymore, I think.

  33. Simon Hayward
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    I hadn’t heard “clap back” but, perhaps showing my age, it somehow suggested returning an STD to someone who has gone through a course of antibiotics, as in “well I hope that gave you your clap back”

  34. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    How about “mission”?

    For my younger son and his set, everything always “turned into a mission” — whether it’s crossing the Mojave on foot or taking a girlfriend to 7-11 for tampons.

    • Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      Would add “missional” whatever the %$#@ that means! 🙂

  35. Ann German
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Today’s pet peeve is “reach out” for “contact.” I actually had a client send me a text message that someone had “reached out to me” and that the client was encouraging that person to “reach out to you.” Suddenly thought I was on the Alan Partridge show and shouted “AHA!”

    • Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      A lot of those reaching out to you are reaching for your wallet.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      Oh hell yes! I loathe and detest the indiscriminate use of ‘reach out’. It has implications of helpfulness or conciliation. And it’s used in contexts that are the exact opposite – as in when TV news reports some alleged malfeasance – ‘We reached out to [the subject] before running this story but he refused to comment’. That wasn’t reaching out, that was just covering your backs, you hacks.

      cr

    • James
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

      I like this one. It fills a need. If I say “I’ll call you” I’m limiting myself to a single line of communication, in a world where I can call, text, email, IM, visit, or communicate with someone in many other ways. It also clearly places the burden on me, which is often a useful bit of manipulation.

      I like “touch base” for the same reasons, with one extra: “reach out” suggests an egalitarian relationship, while “touch base” implies a subordinate position. Again, a useful bit of manipulation–sometimes you want to stroke the other person’s ego a bit.

      • Posted January 30, 2019 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

        Where did touch base come from. Bases are in baseball, hide and seek and some other game where they had to give me me wagon room to teach base.

        Contact me some time with the answer. I will contact you later. Stay in touch.

        • Posted January 31, 2019 at 1:12 am | Permalink

          Older language mavens deprecated “contact” in their day.

          /@

          Sent from my iPhone

          >

  36. max blancke
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    I nominate “woke”
    To me, it just describes a state that happens in one’s late teens, when you know just enough to decide that you are smarter than everyone else.
    The saying goes- “I wish I was a clever as I thought I was at 20”.

    But it is a phase we go through, and hopefully come out the other side humbler and wiser. I would hate to be stuck there forever.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      The quintessential arch-neoconservative William Kristol — son of Irving, and founder of the recently departed Weekly Standard magazine — is in the “never Trump” camp, and since coming out against Trump, has slid ever-so-slightly to the Left on some other issues.

      As a result, people have jokingly taken to calling him “Woke Bill Kristol” (see here).

      That’s the one and only use of “woke” I heartily approve of. 🙂

    • Posted January 30, 2019 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      Someone should hammer that into my head, since I’m currently that age.

      -Ryan

  37. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    ALL those phrases are misleading, to say the least. I guess from the context one can infer that they’re derogatory.

    Ugh.

    cr

  38. Harrison
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    I thought “drag” was just a shortening of “drag through the mud.”

  39. Posted January 30, 2019 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    “Hack” apparently meaning something good.
    “Kiddo” for children/kids or many other terms about small, immature people.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      I kinda like “kiddo.”

      I realized recently that it’s a term I sometimes use on the young women who work at my office. It came to my attention when one of them referred to herself as that when speaking to me. She called me up, and I didn’t recognize her voice straight-away. I said “who is this?”, and she answered “it’s me, you know, ‘Kiddo’.”

      I guess maybe it has the right blend of affection without being too personal or sexist. Has a bit of an old-fashioned ring to my ear, but that’s ok. It’s what one of my favorite aunts, the one who taught me to play poker, used to use on me. She’d be raking in a big pot, and she’d turn to me and say something like “ya gotta stop drawing to an inside straight, kiddo.” 🙂

  40. Marilee Lovit
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    I don’t like “wrap one’s head around [some concept or topic].” Also don’t like “unpack” for explaining an idea. And a grammatical one, I am irritated by “try and” when it almost always, or always, should be “try to.”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 30, 2019 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

      “Try and” is standard British English, I think. I’ve noticed that Christopher Hitchens used it all the time.

      It sounds off to my American ears, too, except for certain idiomatic phrases, such as the dares “try and make me” or “try and find me.”

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 31, 2019 at 2:41 am | Permalink

        It sounds ‘off’ to my British ears to, when I notice it. It should definitely be ‘try TO’ do something.

        However ‘try and’ is used so often I usually don’t notice it. In fact I do it myself – “I’ll try and find the answer”.

        I think part of the reason is, it’s easier to say. “Try to” has the repeated ‘t’ to pronounce, “try and” gets shortened to “try’n'” which is quicker to say.

        cr

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 31, 2019 at 9:40 am | Permalink

          You Brits (or at least the posh ones) don’t seem to have much trouble with a “double t”; look at the way you say “not at all,” with the two Ts pronounced as crisply and precisely as though struck by a symphony timpanist. (We Yanks say the phrase as though it’s an over-the-counter sleep aid, “Noddadall.”) 🙂

          As for the written “try and,” it first caught my attention somewhere early in Hitch-22. After that, it jumped out at me for the rest of the book.

          • ThyroidPlanet
            Posted January 31, 2019 at 10:14 am | Permalink

            Do. Or do not. There is no try.

            … T’s are particularly important for a nice British accent. Consider Ringo saying “turtle” – compare to the alternative “turdle”.

    • Posted January 30, 2019 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

      Did someone unload on you. Get it off your chest.

  41. russellblackford
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    An ongoing peeve is “call out” for “criticize” or “condemn” or “verbally attack”. E.g. “Last night, Little Crocodile called out Big Dog for disrespecting reptiles in his new song about snakes.”

    Apart from the trendiness factor, it suggests that the criticism or condemnation was somehow justified against moral standards that right-thinking people all now agree – but it’s simply not the job of journalists to make that judgment. I also find it irritating from people who are not journalists, as if they are guardians of shifting and contested moral standards.

    My newest pet peeve is “heartfelt” when used by journalists, usually of people’s speeches, etc. Journalists are supposed to report the observable facts, not tell us whether or not someone was being sincere – they can’t read minds. A perfectly good alternative is “emotional” or even “moving”. With a bit of background knowledge, you can fairly observe that a speech is the sort of thing that is likely to move people. You can’t observe whether or not it was meant sincerely and so was “heartfelt”.

    An older peeve is the random peppering of journalistic prose with the word “key” in order to make the journalist seem in the know and the story more dramatic than it would otherwise be. I haven’t seen this much lately, so maybe it’s gone out of fashion.

    It used to work like this, for example: “A key trade union may block the new labour agreement negotiated by Big Nasty Corporation with the workers on its site.” This is likely to be said in a situation where *any* of the unions involved would be able to block the agreement, and so all of them were equally “key” to it.

  42. Posted January 30, 2019 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    I love it whenever there’s one of these posts. The comments section is always entertaining.

    -Ryan

  43. Posted January 30, 2019 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    “To unpack”. I expect a writer to explain something, which makes the announcement superfluous. It also makes the author look smug, because they want to make it known that they alone are going to show what hitherto went unnoticed, let me unpack this for you:

    It wouldn’t be grating, if what follows would at least live up to the announcement. But it rarely does. Usually, the “unpacking” is popular with the woke. The writer would then proceed with the unpacking and thereby add that special note to wokeness, which is hard to explain: some combination of smug, aggressive, cocksure yet also utterly banal (“racism is bad”), if not arrant nonsense.

    I also dislike the misuse of psychological terms, like Dunning-Kruger effect, but it perfectly describes the usual unpacker.

    • Posted January 30, 2019 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

      Do you have to upload before you unpack?

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted January 31, 2019 at 6:04 am | Permalink

      I suppose “unpack” is an earthy version of “explain”.

      However

      “Unpack” is good for pointing out when big fancy words get overused, or as stand-ins for authoritative language. In short, bullshit.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted January 31, 2019 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      But, but, but, we are so often exposed to real ‘Dunning-Kruger’ nowadays. Your present president is an incarnation of D-K, he exudes it by the truckload.
      BTW, the awareness of the phenomenon is much older than Dunning and Kruger’s ‘Ignoble prize’, even Darwin made the observation, long before either Dunning or Kruger were born.

      • Posted February 2, 2019 at 4:19 am | Permalink

        (1) Not “my” president, being European like you (as your name gives away as well).

        (2) Agreed, like in the quotation attributed to Bertrand Russell “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”

  44. Posted January 30, 2019 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    To ‘clap back’ at someone is pointless. Both of you need to get on doxycycline ASAP!

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted January 31, 2019 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      Sadly Neisseria gonorrhea is often resistant to Doxycycline 😦
      Evolution in action! 🙂

  45. finnjim1975
    Posted January 30, 2019 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    A phrase that has been completely overused here in Irish politics that pees me off so much.

    “Going Forward”

    I mean in fairness what other way is there to go. Listen to any Irish politician spouting their typical speil and you will hear this phrase multiple times mostly used in a meaningless way to avoid actually answering the question asked such as

    “We will look into the issue going forward”

  46. drawingbusiness
    Posted January 31, 2019 at 3:37 am | Permalink

    I find the self-aware curmudgeonliness of this recurring feature very endearing.

  47. mfdempsey1946
    Posted January 31, 2019 at 4:41 am | Permalink

    All this illustrates how swiftly the internet helps to turn even the cleverest new words and phrases into moldy, dust-covered, supremely irritating cliches before we can even blink.

    Recall how quickly it happened with Valley Girl lingo: “Gag me with a spoon,” “Fer shure, fer shure”… And there wasn’t even an internet then.

  48. Tim Milburn
    Posted January 31, 2019 at 4:50 am | Permalink

    “milieu” (a French word meaning “social environment”). I don’t mind words from other languages at all, but this one seems pretentious. I think it has to do with the sound of the pronunciation in an English language sentence.

  49. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 31, 2019 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    Headline writing:

    “Everything you know about snow is wrong. ___Here’s why.__”

    The “here’s why” part gets under my skin.

  50. Posted January 31, 2019 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    preorder
    preplan
    prearrange

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted January 31, 2019 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      yes

      I mean

      NOOOOOO!

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 31, 2019 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      Makes me prepuke a little in my mouth.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted January 31, 2019 at 10:09 am | Permalink

        I wrote a long comment about other stupid “pre-“ words, until I had to admit some have a use because the “pre-“ means “before”, so for example you might need pre-load an apparatus to get it to stabilize prior to the working load that is the object of interest, otherwise it might topple over if you put the load on all at once. It would be part of a process.

  51. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 31, 2019 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    “Get out ahead” or “get out in front” of, for example:

    “We gotta get out ahead of this”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 31, 2019 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      The “out” is otiose, but I don’t have a problem with “get in front of.” Is there another, similarly concise way of expressing the idea?

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted January 31, 2019 at 9:53 am | Permalink

        “otiose”

        Awesome word!

        … I will in fact use this phrase in a partially sarcastic way, because though i don’t like it, it sometimes undeniably expresses an idea well, perhaps only in conversation…

        I don’t know of an alternative…

        I see a pattern with these word discussions – colorful words vs. boring words?… words with some intuitive gut feeling and their counterparts which sound like they come from the ivory tower with brains in vats, purely cerebral, detached,…

        But I’m going off on a tangent … uh-oh, there’s another one – “going off on”…

        I must quit commenting for a while again.

  52. Posted January 31, 2019 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Does lead from behind makes any sense?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 31, 2019 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      Only as a rhetorical use of oxymoron.

    • Posted January 31, 2019 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      OG – I think it may have origins in Christendom re Jesus as a shepherd, leading the sheep from behind.

    • GBJames
      Posted January 31, 2019 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      Isn’t lead from behind how the victim was killed in some mystery novel?

      • Posted January 31, 2019 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

        I resorted to google. Nelson Mandella gets credit for the quote. It is interesting and worth reading about.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted January 31, 2019 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

        I see ‘to lead from behind’ as a very specific kind of action, like ‘to lead from behind the scene’, out of the lime-light, staying in the background (A bit like Mr Miller leads Mr Trump from behind).

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 31, 2019 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

        “Lead from behind” is how Wild Bill Hickok bought it, shot in the back of the head while playing poker, holding two pair, Aces & Eights, evermore known as “the Deadman’s Hand.”

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 31, 2019 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

        “Miss Scarlett in the conservatory with the lead piping.”
        I don’t know the US name, but in Britain the board game was called “Cluedo”, and it boiled down to a mix of”Happy Families” with an Agatha Christie country house murder.

        • Posted February 1, 2019 at 11:00 am | Permalink

          “Clue” – as in the movie with Tim Curry.

          /@

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted February 3, 2019 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

            I’ll take your word on that. For some reason, I’ve been stumbling into Poirot plays every second time I turn the radio on this week. Puts you into a certain mind-set.

  53. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted January 31, 2019 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    To ‘clap back’ in South African idiom would mean to hit back, literally or figuratively (to ‘klap’ = to slap, to hit, to beat up).

    • Barney
      Posted February 13, 2019 at 6:03 am | Permalink

      The Australian Macquarie Dictionary gives a derivation close to that:

      “(Originally US Colloquial) to make a retort to an insult or criticism; return fire.

      from the West Indian English use of clap meaning `to shoot'”


%d bloggers like this: