As communicators, we use our words a lot. Sometimes, we use the same words too much. This is the time of year when lists (or “listicles,” one of my new favorite frankenwords which describes the trend toward articles being organized into numbered lists rather than paragraphs) of the year’s most overused phrases, buzzwords and corporate-speak.
So, in that spirit, I’ve compiled this listicle of 2013 roundups of the most overused words in various arenas:
1. On the menu: HuffPo’s Food for Thought blog calls out “local,” “artisan,” and “natural” (among others) as words that have lost all meaning through overuse.
2. Consumer products: The Wall Street Journal’s Paul Ziobro zeroes in on “innovative” as overused. (And oh, ouch to the Kellogg CEO who mentioned his “innovative” new Pop-Tart on an earnings call!)
3. Corporate-speak: Quartz did a search of Fact Set’s database of corporate conference call transcripts and learned that “big data” is not only the most overused, but also is often misused.
4 Some words are used so much that they get special recognition instead of jeers. Each year, the Oxford Dictionary announces new words that have emerged through the culture and earned their place in the venerable reference work. This year, “selfie” beat out “twerk” and “bitcoin” to be named Word of the Year.
I’m sure we’ll continue to see these lists through the rest of the year (some lists have been compiled since May, such as this one of most overused PR terms – apparently five months was enough time to get sick of these bad boys!)
Buzzwords are notoriously annoying to journalists – one “innovative,” “organic” or “big data” too many can result a deleted pitch. Be aware – and beware – of using these hackneyed words in pitches, releases and any other communication when, with a little creativity, you can find another word to convey your meaning.