< Our insights

Words we love to hate

Published May 12, 2022 – By Wardour


Our choice of words can really affect how a message is delivered and how a business is perceived, and we all have words or phrases that we don’t like seeing and avoid using altogether. So, we asked the Wardour team to name their pet peeve words and phrases.

I've got loads, but the one that really winds me up is 'utilise'. There is no context I've ever come across where it doesn't mean exactly the same as 'use', but as so often, people choose the longer word because they think it makes them sound more intelligent. Similarly, there is never a need to write 'utilisation' – 'usage' (or 'use' as a noun) does the same job.

Tim Turner, Content Director

‘Incredibly’: this adjective should be deleted from the English language. Writers use it for emphasis, but its overuse means it does just the opposite, making anything it modifies sound insincere. I mean, if it's not credible, why should I believe you? Instead, find the right word to do the work: for instance,

instead of saying ‘I’m incredibly sad’, use ‘I’m broken’ or ‘I’m devastated.’

Leah Clarkson, Content Creator

I hate seeing a ‘z’ in a word that should have an ‘s’ in it – like ‘organization’ or ‘democratization’. Feel like it’s an Americanism that all too often creeps into British English. Yuk.

Fred Heritage, Content Creator

I have a few, and they all end in -st. ‘Whilst’ offers nothing that ‘while’ doesn’t, and the same goes for ‘amongst’ and ‘amidst’… Nothing ruins the flow of a sentence quite like it! If in doubt, keep it short.

Matt Moody, Content Creator

Sometimes, our pet peeves words aren’t written, but are spoken…

“‘Yes, no, absolutely’.

OK it’s not a word, these are three words. But they appear all the time in business meetings, and I am guilty of using them myself. Brought to the public eye by TV show W1A many years ago, they refuse to die. They are a verbal space filler that add nothing, and they epitomise to me management-speak and an over-eagerness to please.

Martin MacConnol, Agency Founder

And sometimes, it’s not words at all that we love to hate.

“Stacking the dishwasher in a random, inefficient way; slow walkers on pavements; joggers on pavements; cyclists on pavements; anyone other than me on pavements.” 

If you’d like to have an informal chat about how Wardour can help with your marketing and communications, pop us an email at hello@wardour.co.uk – we’d love to speak to you.

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