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Grrr . . .

This week we read a story about a man in California who’s started a campaign to stamp out the word “awesome.”

 Campaign to Stamp Out Awesome Greenwillow


We wish him luck! Turns out, though, we have a few candidates of our own—words we’d like to stamp out, vaporize, wipe out of the lexicon. Here are our staff picks for Words We Hate:

  • moist—like nails on a chalkboard to Martha. We discovered this while sitting around the glass-topped table, eating some truly amazing hand-baked holiday treats that were . . . well, moist.
  • wheelhouse
  • romp—a word we never, ever use to describe a manuscript!
  • ladies’ room—so affected (and given the state of the facilities on the 23rd floor . . . nuff said)
  • slacks (just say pants, please)
  • relatable–what? Is it too hard to say “A character readers can relate to?”
  • silo, pivot, agency (when used by MBAs)
  • milky
  • crampon
  • piracy–it’s stealing!

We also have a vote against sarcasm without contrast (just mean-spirited). So . . . what word gets your vampire blood boiling?


  1. David Jón Fuller says:

    The word “repeated” when used as a dialogue tag. 1. a character repeating another character’s speech word-for-word is clear enough, as well as redundant, IMHO; and 2. it’s longer than “said”! Good grief, why add length without adding nuance?

  2. Virginia says:

    I hate “following.” As in, you are standing in line for coffee and the person says, “following?” Ahhhh. It drives me insane. Insane.

    I am also full of hate for aura and oeuvre.

  3. Jody Feldman says:

    It’s not specific words that get me, it’s the conjugation of non-verbs. Around my house, though, the term ‘chunky flesh wound’ doesn’t play; and now ‘chunky’ itself … don’t even think of saying it.

    As for ‘romp’ — no wonder I had such problems getting anyone to look at this one MG once upon a time. If I’d only known then to take that word out of the query …

  4. sharon phillips denslow says:

    although vegatable isn’t much better maybe we should just call them v’s



    and if you jump to phrases:

    dear reader

    back in the day (which day, your day my day ten, forty, a hundred years ago day!!)

    And for entire sentences right now in January 2012 could we skip at least for a week “What’s for supper?”

  5. sharon phillips denslow says:

    or maybe I should add spell check….or maybe that is why everyone shortened VEGETABLE to veggie…they couldn’t spell it!

  6. Katie Bignell says:

    In life:
    “Presently”. I have no idea why I don’t like this word.

    In manuscripts:
    “what looked like” (and all variations on that theme, such as “what seemed like”). Every once in a while, one of these is okay, but only every once in a while.

  7. Rae Carson says:

    Orientate. *stabstabstab*

    On the other hand, I love “luminous.” It feels so delightful to say.

  8. Jody Feldman says:

    Thank you, Rae. That’s the word I wanted to add to this conversation, but I just couldn’t pull it up, for a reason, I suppose.

  9. Leah Cypess says:

    Doesn’t Martha also hate the phrase “as if”? Or is that only when it’s used five times in the same manuscript page?

  10. Tim Smith says:

    I am scarfing down moist, glistening lunch meats as if they were chewy butterscotch candies.

    (Trying to make Martha vurp.)

  11. Virginia says:

    And your aura is awesome.

  12. I’m going to ‘utilize’ all of these in my current manuscript.

    Or just ‘use’ them.


  13. Lynne Rae Perkins says:

    On the same page.
    What the American People Want.

    I have to look up “wheelhouse” now.

  14. mwt says:

    Tell me what you find, because I think there must be some definition of “wheelhouse” that I don’t know. (David is right now making up a new definition to tell me– it won’t work, David.)

    Virginia? “Following?” No really, people say that?

  15. “Wheelhouse” was the box where spinners kept their yarn so that it was fed directly into the spinning wheel, making the process much less cumbersome and tangly. The box was close the chest of the spinner, thus the baseball idiom “wheelhouse” speaks to both the ease of execution and the proximity of the chestal region.

  16. mwt says:

    Nope. Don’t believe you.

  17. Ok, then…

    A wheelhouse is the part of a steamship covering the paddlewheel. A gambler riverboat gambler who was doing especially well at the card table–and therefore was most assuredly cheating–was placed inside the wheelhouse so that the constant surge of water would wash away both his sins and any extra aces that might be on his person.

  18. mwt says:

    Um . . . no. Nice, try, though. : )

  19. Virginia says:

    He tried that one on me, too.
    Is someone going to tell us what it means? Because I need to know.

  20. I really had a great time with your post! I am looking forward to read more blog post regarding this! Well written!

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