Writing Phrases To Avoid

Some readers might take issue with this list, but noting that sayings such as “true that” and “it’s like boiling the ocean” help people relate to one another and are helpful rather than annoying. You can’t please everyone, and the list below is an objective, unedited listing with further user-generated venting in parentheses. Please chime in if I’ve missed something.

  • Don’t take this the wrong way/personally …
  • Incentive
  • Iterate
  • “Out-of-the-box thinking”
  • “If you will”
  • Arrrrrrggggggg!
  • Drink the Kool-Aid
  • Move the needle
  • Let’s talk offline
  • Boil the ocean
  • Awesome
  • Ramp up. Tee up. Sync up. (Throw up.)
  • Push back
  • Thought starter
  • Scalable
  • Factoids
  • Synergy
  • Run it up the flagpole and see how it flies.
  • Skin in the game
  • Ping
  • “Circle back” (Which means to bring your Conestoga wagon back into a circle.)
  • Thought leadership
  • “True that.”
  • “With all due respect…” (Hearing that phrase, buckle-up: The words that follow will certainly bear no relation to “respect” or any recognized synonym.)
  • “At any rate:” (It is so seldom used in connection with a literal rate of any sort.)
  • “Game on.”
  • Winning
  • “To make a long story short” (already makes your story six words longer.)
  • Meh (Thank you for your in-depth contribution to the conversation that really helps us solve the problem. Now, please, get back to your texting.)
  • “I don’t hate that idea.” (Otherwise known as “let’s think about that more.”)
  • “We want to be in high-profile media” (…said everyone on earth that wants to be in any media.)
  • “How should we spin this?”
  • “We need to be strategic.” (“Strategy” and “strategic” are so overused; no one explains what they mean by this, what the plan of action is or the tactics we’ll use to achieve the goal.)
  • “Let’s take a step back.” (It’s an early indicator that you are dealing with a conservative organization where innovation is outside their comfort zone.)
  • “Let’s not re-invent the wheel…”
  • “Value proposition”
  • “Let’s get out in front of it…”
  • “Where the rubber meets the road…”
  • Game time
  • Irregardless
  • Anyways
  • Frankly …
  • Honestly …
  • “It is what it is.”
  • “I personally feel.”
  • “You need to be more passionate.” (You can’t make people feel passionate)
  • The word “social” as a noun, as in, “Acme does social really well.” (Being social means having friends, not selling product.)
  • “I’m passionate about _________.”
  • “I’m a ____________ junkie.” (Really” Is any addiction a virtue?)
  • “I’m just doing what I’m doing.”
  • “We need to own social media.”
  • Curation
  • News-jacking
  • When young people say “Well in the old days…” (Really? You’ve been around for 20-something years. The “old days” for you consisted of an era before social networking boomed and boy bands were the hot topic.)
  • Win-win
  • Net-net
  • “Put on your big girl panties.”
  • I also think way too many trains have left the station and never mind how many people have been thrown under the bus.
  • Utilizing
  • “Transparency” (Those who use this term are anything but transparent.)
  • “Balls to the walls
  • Guru
  • “Hit the ground running”
  • “Going forward” (Meaning “from now on” as if you could also dictate past behavior)
  • “No offense” (Which means “I am about to offend you.”)
  • “I’m confused” (Which means “You’re confused and I am going to set you straight.”)
  • Bandwidth
  • Hard stop
  • “Let’s flesh/flush this out.” I’ve heard it both ways, and both make me cringe.
  • “Perfect!” (Yeah, I know\, lazy. TV script writers use it all the time.)
  • “We have a horse in this race.” (Less painful than one’s own skin the game, but same principle.)
  • “Under the radar”
  • “We will be ramping up soon, so be ready!”
  • Kill two birds with one stone (poor birds)
  • Self-starter
  • 24/7
  • Bada-bing!
  • Leverage
  • Give 110% (What is wrong with your math?)
  • My bad
  • “In the weeds.”
  • “Bada Book, Bada Boom!” (Just threw this one in.)

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