It all starts out innocently enough – someone thinks that a word is overused, so they decide to use it less. Fine. But the next thing you know, they’re telling everyone around them that they shouldn’t use it either, and then from there they go to “DON’T USE THAT WORD!!!” in full spittle-spray mode. Especially if they find themselves in a position to enforce their little
This list, as is so often the case, includes a number of things that are just silly, such as:
- At first glance
- The American people
- At a crossroads
The implication seems to be that there will never be a time when you will need to refer to the American people, or to a signpost that stands at a crossroads, or to the first time someone ever saw a particular item. Or perhaps that when such an occasion arises, you should choose a substitute phrase from some putative list of “close enough” options. Because, you know… if the perfect phrase is on this list, you can’t use it.
The list also includes some things that surely belong on a list of types of usage, not a list of banned usage, of which my personal favorite is “Begs the question (unless used properly)”. Look, I fully agree that misusing that phrase (here’s a hint – it does not mean “Asks you to ask…”) is irritating, to say the least, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to put it on any list of Words And Phrases You Think You Should Use But Would See (If You Were Only As Smart As I Am) That You Should Never Ever Use. I’m simply going to point out, every time it is misused in a statement directed toward me, that it means something more like “Beggars the question”, that is, it assumes a preceding, and unanswered, question has been answered in some manner that is helpful to the current statement.
That’s a proper use issue, not a never use issue.
Then there’s the long laundry list of metaphors and dead metaphors, a list so long and so sorry as to make me feel pity for the chosen style of the list maker:
- A rare window
- Outside the box/Out of the box
- Rorschach test
- Shines a spotlight on
- etc etc etc.
Not even going to comment on the failure to distinguish between proper and improper uses of metaphor, or the failure to distinguish overuse from mere use. I could, in fact, say something about the baby and the bath water, but… that’s a metaphor,
so I guess it goes out the window oops, I mean I guess I can’t say it.
There are also a number of things that are just weird, like “important.” Don’t use that word. Because, um… Because nothing ever is important.
Except this list of Words And Phrases You Think You Should Use But Would See (If You Were Only As Smart As I Am) That You Should Never Ever Use, of course.