Some words need to go.
I’m not talking about overusing trending words like “twerk” and “selfie.” That, in itself, could be a future blog post.
I’m referring to common words that have been in the dictionary for a long while. Words that seem harmless but can reflect poorly on your writing and your credibility as a writer.
You won’t be sent to the hall of shame if any of these overused words are found in your first draft. Instead, catch this bad habit of overusing these seven words in your writing before your work is published.
Originally meant: In a strict sense, word for word
Now means: In effect or virtually (in other words, not literally)
Why to stop using it: Unless you literally died from laughter, you are discrediting everything you write when misusing this word. And when you overuse this word in your writing, your reader will be unsure if what you write is in the actual sense or figurative sense.
Originally meant: Essentially or fundamentally
Now means: A word to use as a sentence filler
Why to stop using it: Stating that basically the word is being overused (see what I did there?), it implies that you chose to simplify the explanation for the reader. This could leave your readers curious about the full story behind the simplified explanation or leave your readers feeling offended by insulting their intelligence.
Originally meant: In a genuine or truthful manner
Now means: A word to use as a sentence filler (again)
Why to stop using it: Honestly, if you have to say honestly before your statement (see how annoying that is to read?), your readers are going to question you. Is the writer lying everywhere else in the writing? Does the writer not think I trust what’s being said? Don’t put your readers in this awkward position.
Originally meant: Actually true
Now means: A sentence intensifier
Why to stop using it: Do you really need to really emphasize that everything you really write is really true? Perhaps you don’t go this overboard, but that’s how the reader feels reading this overused word. Try intensifying the verb or description instead of enforcing the word in this way.
Originally meant: To a high degree
Now means: A sentence intensifier (again)
Why to stop using it: You have a dictionary full of words at your disposal. So why are you describing that shirt as very blue or her mood as very happy? How about navy blue or elated? Use one word instead of two that better describes the situation.
Originally meant: Causing great surprise or sudden wonder
Now means: Great or cool
Why to stop using it: Reread your sentence. If you can replace “amazing” with “great” or “cool,” then your sentence needs revision. If you find “great” or “cool” unacceptable to use for your readers, consider adding “amazing” to that list.
Originally meant: Inspiring an overwhelming feeling of admiration or fear
Now means: Great or cool (again)
Why to stop using it: Because it’s not the ’90s. ’Nuff said.
What words do you think are overused in writing? Share your words below.