7 Words You’re Overusing In Your Writing

7 Words You're Overusing in Your Writing Blog Post via KLWightman.com

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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.

7 Words You’re Using That Aren’t Words

Not all words you say are actually real words.

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I’m all for word inventing. I tend to verbify nouns and smash two words together so that I get my point across better.

But I draw the line at speaking nonsense.

Some words are so common that we assume that they’re words. But they’re not.

I break down these fake words by their true definitions to prove that you need to obliterate these words immediately from your vocabulary.


The prefix ir-, like un- and in-, makes a word negative. Regardless means showing no regard. Put the two together and irregardless means not showing no regard.

And that doesn’t make any sense.

Irregardless arose from a bad meshing of regardless and irrespective. Stick to using one of these words instead.


The prefix re- adds “again” to a word’s meaning. Iterate means to speak again or repeatedly. So reiterate means to again speak again or repeatedly. The word itself is repetitive.

Get to the point. Only say iterate.


The prefix mis- means lack of or badly. Underestimated means an estimate at too low a value. Squish the two double negatives together and misunderestimated means lack of an estimate at too low a value.

In other words, misunderestimated is a complicated way of saying estimated.

Say what you really mean. Drop the mis-.


The prefix in- makes a word its opposite. Flammable means that an object easily burns. Push the two together and inflammable means doesn’t burn easily.

That’s not what you meant to say, huh?

This word may have a legit excuse. Inflammable is believed to derive from the Latin word inflammo meaning to burn. But we speak English, so say flammable.


Would you say alittle? Then why are you saying alot?

Alot is a misspelling of a lot. You’ll notice this when you try typing alot in a word processing program and it automatically puts a space between the two words.

Keep it as two words. Enough said.


Preventative is an unnecessarily longer version of preventive. Both words mean the same thing, but preventive is less repetitive and to the point. So drop that extra syllable.


The prefix un- reverses the action of the word. Thaw means to unfreeze or melt. So to unthaw means to un-unfreeze or un-melt.

It’s a long way of saying to freeze.

You can either freeze something or thaw it. Choose to say these words instead.

What fake words drive you crazy? Share below.