Most Overused Words and Phrases — My Own List

3 Jan

It’s the time of year for list makers to announce the most tiresome or overused words and phrases thrown around in 2012.  We have all heard two or more of these lists by now, I’m sure.  I have my own list started, and they apply to politics and the media, not to pop culture and teeny boppers.  Here are my starters:

Fiscal Cliff – Politicians and the media have both overused, and misused, this phrase.  Both of them have used the phrase to scare people, to raise emotion where there is little understanding, to totally misrepresent what the real fiscal problems of America are – in other words, what the REAL fiscal cliff is .

Spending Cuts – When was the last time a spending cut was really a spending cut?  I’m sorry, folks, but a reduction in the rate of increased spending does not represent a spending cut.

The One Percent – There will always be a one percent – by definition, in a capitalistic system, someone will always be included in that one percent category.  At face value, the phrase SHOULD represent the aspiration of all Americans, and our rags-to-riches stories should engender great pride in our system of economics.  But more than that, the phrase is meaningless in describing roles and responsibilities.  And that takes us to –

Fair – This magical word that is used so frequently but never defined.  It has attained a kind of ethereal significance, yet with no underlying foundational definition.  An entire presidential campaign was basically run on the notion, “I may not be able to define what’s fair, but I know it when I feel it”.

“You Won’t Believe . . . .” – Clearly the media favorite of all would-be suspense-building events, as in “And you won’t believe what happened next”, or “You won’t believe who is breaking up now”, etc., etc., ad nauseum.

 Surreal – This seems to have become a favorite word within the media and represents a kind of must-use term for interviewees who are asked what some experience was like.

 Entitlements – Folks, “entitlements” are not really entitlements.  They are programs, most of which can be legally done away with by acts of Congress.  Yes, people feel like they are “entitled” to these benefits from the taxpayers, but can’t we change the psychology a little by using alternative identification?  Even using the word “benefits” has a better implication than “entitlements”.

Government Funds, Government Assistance, Government Loans, etc. – When people use these phrases, they obscure the truth of the matter, which is that American taxpayers are having their money diverted into this program, that emergency relief, those school loans, etc.  Can’t we adopt language that makes it clear that the government really owns no money except that which it [profligately] prints?  Why not just tell it like it is – loans from taxpayers, assistance from taxpayers, taxpayer funds?

“Guns don’t kill people – people kill people” – What a ridiculous statement (my opinion – I know I will get blasted for saying this).  Of course guns kill people – just like autos kill people, ladders kill people, bears kill people, knives kill people, etc.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m a card-carrying gun owner.  And I know that all these killing “tools” are in the hands of the primary problem – flawed people.  But phrases that diminish the role of the weapon in the hands of a killer make no sense to me, do not seem constructive when arguing with gun control advocates, and (to me) cheapen the arguments of 2nd Amendment supporters.

I’m sure the list can go on and on – you have other suggestions?

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2 Responses to “Most Overused Words and Phrases — My Own List”

  1. Wayne Abernathy September 30, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    May I add “public schools” to the list? These are really government schools, more answerable to government priorities and incentives than the interests of the public. “Public” is used to get the public to swallow government education.

    • illero October 1, 2014 at 9:46 pm #

      Yes you may [add public schools]. Thanks for visiting and contributing.

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