Yes, it’s time for another selection of words and phrases that burn my onions and get my knickers in a wad. And, of course, you’ll get your own chance to weigh in below. As usual, I take many of my examples from the HuffPost, the epicenter of bad writing. We have five items today; click on the screenshots to go to the articles.
1. Impactful. I detest this word because it seems to be a recent usage, is pretentious, and there are plenty of better words for it—like “powerful”. In the case of the HuffPost usage below, why wouldn’t “influential” do as well? Can you imagine saying, “Well, Bill Gates is very impactful these days.”
2. Crisply. I see this word all the time, like the odious phrase “bright line”, but it reminds me not of anything evocative except crackers. Here’s a usage from a Science paper I cited recently:
An extreme social event (a war, in this case) that triggered intense, selective exploitation of elephants crisply illustrates the pronounced coupling between human societies and evolutionary processes in other life forms.
How does “crisply illustrate” differ from “vividly illustrate” or simply “illustrate”?Are they showing pictures of Saltines?
3. Majorly: Now this one is really bad. Yes, it’s in the Oxford English Dictionary, but it grates like nails on a blackboard. This article has two errors: “majorly” (used with “intersect”, for chrissake), and “suped-up”, which is supposed to be spelled “souped-up”.
The offending sentence:
Early critic reactions to the scene described it as “very tame” and “very G-rated,” so keep your expectations low regarding just how steamy Marvel is getting in this new era. For decidedly more R-rated fare, fans noted that past heroes in Marvel television shows like “Jessica Jones,” which have yet to majorly intersect with the current MCU slate of films, featured more explicit and suped-up sexual encounters.
4. Going forward. I know other readers hate this, too, for all it means is, “in the future,” or simply “next”—and sometimes doesn’t even need to be there. Here it is used in a Madison, Wisconsin NBC site—in the headline. (And no, it doesn’t refer to mail being forwarded; it means “from now on”; so it’s not only irritating, but confusing.)
5. Advancement. Now you see this one all the time, and all it means is “advance” as a noun. Anyone using it is being pretentious. Stop it now!
. . . aaaand, here it is in a HuffPost headline. “Advances” would have read so much better! But the author wanted to sound, well, serious:
Your turn! What words curl the soles of your shoes?
130 thoughts on “Words and phrases I detest”
I was just thinking about the Words and Phrases I Detest segment this morning since I’ve thought of a new one of my own.
In a podcast I listen to, one of the presenters, talking about the England Women’s rugby team beating New Zealand talked about how the performance had answered some question marks.
No! A question mark is a punctuation mark. The word he was looking for was “questions”. Media people, especially sports media people seem to be using “question mark” for “question” more and more.
It seems like ‘answers some questions’ is easier to say as well as correct. I wonder how that got into spoken English.
I’ve often been amused by cricket interviews. When I used to listen to them, I kept hearing things like ‘bowling the right areas’, ‘executing our plan’, ‘keep the momentum going forward’, and ‘take the positives going forward’. Now I don’t listen that much. I don’t think I’ve ever been annoyed by how other people speak, but I’ve been amused and sometimes confused. I remember finding the word ‘like’ when bunged into sentences a bit jarring, e.g., ‘Let’s do like the math on this.’ But I told myself to get used it.
It’s derived fro the fact that you can legitimately use “question marks” in some situations e.g. “there were some question marks against some of his team selections”.
‘Cricket interviews’: for some reason, there’s a tendency to insert references to completely different sports into the conversation. For instance, more than once I’ve heard Joe Root, the England captain, talk about the need for his team ‘to step up to the plate’.
Maybe they took him literally. That might explain some of their performances in recent years.
Yes! I forgot to mention that. I am waiting for someone to say
I recently learnt that ‘The bowler’s Holding the batsman’s Willey’ story was apochryphal. The commentator, Brian Johnston, never said it. A woman, Miss Tess Tickle, had written to him before the England versus West Indies series imploring him to guard against saying it.
On the other hand, Botham’s inability to get his leg over is most definitely real and Johnston definitely did corpse quite badly.
Must be similar to “A full toss in the crease” no offence.
Right. The ‘leg over’ happened during commentary (you know what I mean), but may not have been during ball-by-ball commentary. The provenance of the story is discussed here. Inzamam ul Haq was another who didn’t get his leg over in England.
I was listening to the commentary at the time it happened. I remember it as them summarising the England innings in which you list all the batsmen and give a short description of their innings and how they got out. Aggers put the leg over comment in at the end of their discussion of Botham’s innings. I wasn’t aware that he had done it deliberately though. It being deliberate would explain this interview.
In later interviews, Agnew maintained that Johnston was absolutely furious about what happened because he viewed it as totally unprofessional.
Conversely, I hate it when cricket commentators say “that’s a great cricket shot!” Like, what other kind of shot would be employed in a game of cricket??
Please don’t get used to that ubiquitous, mind-numbing ‘filler’ word ‘LIKE’.
It seems to be mainly, but not exclusively, used by those who think it makes them sound cool, hip, trendy and/or youth-friendly, and the vocabulary-challenged.
To listen to a speaker who can hardly utter a sentence without multiple instances of the ‘L’ word is like trying to walk down a rubble-strewn path. I find their verbal tic gets in the way of any idea they may be attempting to share.
I now mute them without hesitation.
Along with “ You Know” the filler for every situation. Inevitably when uttered I do not know.
So many of these terms are from business-speak, which was a pure and undiluted source of entertainment for me, until the day when instead of local governance, my hospital began having committees of people paid to be there instead of well-meaning volunteers who like to get things done quickly. These people had the opposite intent, spin it out and impress everyone with their vocabulary of business-speak. This kind of jargon spreads by imitation, just like slang, but with a much shorter half-life. Soon they were hurling their ‘going forwards’, ‘advancements’ and ‘shovel-readies’ across the table at each other, meeting a hail of ‘optics’, ‘timelies’ and ‘boots on the ground’ as return fire. And all of it was was just that, weaponised speech as a heuristic for ability, which none of them actually had. So they chattered away like a troop of monkeys instead. They’re still doing it, but without me being forced to listen unpaid, thank goodness. Your healthcare dollars at work, folks.
I used to hate the look gambit: when asked a question the pundit says, “Look, the Democrats are in great position to …”
Someone told the Punditeria to stop that “look” thing. Now they do “so” …
Interviewer: “what are the arguments for full family leave paid by taxpayers?”
Pundit: “So, first you have to consider the cost of not …” etc.
I hate the Look and the SOo
The writers of the Marvel story have even more for which to apologize than might be obvious, since “suped-up” (which clearly triggers a red squiggle underline on my browser) might be taken as a nod to Superman…who is DC character. Blasphemy!
Here is a good one – Don’t get me wrong. What does that mean, you are getting me wrong? You don’t get it? Is it a warning – whatever you do, don’t get me wrong. Oh you got me wrong, I told you not to do that. You can do a lot of things around here but don’t get me wrong. Am I right?
Well…., to be honest…..
“If you really think about it, you’d see…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eySDeBdqxGY I think it had something to do with why speech was dangerous with Covid and he does have a point. But cringe-y.
“Peoplekind”. Also from the Canadian Prime Minister. He might have been having a little joke on himself, but with him you never can be sure. I linked to the longer clip where he explains it so you can judge for yourself.
Fortunately neither of these has caught on.
Nice hit on “going forward”. You can stick it anywhere into a sentence that doesn’t have it, and you can remove it wherever it appears. Totally useless phrase given the arrow of time.
I have that song in my head now that people put together after he said that. I make fun of him for saying “uh” all the time but he is speaking English and French in the same conference and. Reds to switch back and forth seamlessly and I tend to make weird mistakes when speaking in one language so I don’t make fun of him too much about not finding the right word anymore.
Reminds me of the time he talked about the recession and recovery affecting women disproportionately, he used the terms “shecession” and “shecovery”.
The word that triggers me the most is “fulsome”. It’s used all over higher ed.
What do they think it means? Enthusiastic?
Full. They think it means full and complete. I think this may be the modern usage but o don’t like it and what is wrong with saying full or complete?
Should be reserved to denote “excessive,” as in “fulsome praise.”
Yeah. They never use it like that. They say things like “let’s have some fulsome conversations around this” and I just want to scream & run away.
The higher education word that triggers me is “Uni” It is not uni, it is University.
“In order to . . .” when “To . . .” does just as well with fewer words
Oh crap. That would be me. Defence: In Latin, when “in order to” is explicitly meant as the purpose of an action without which the end would not occur, the fourth part of the verb (the supine) is used, not the infinitive second part.
Amare somnio. I dream to love. (= of loving) but
Amatum somnio I dream, in order to love. (Main verb comes at the end.)
Often in English the context makes it clear without the “in order to” as in “Break eggs to make omelets”. but in Latin you would lose the meaning if you didn’t use the supine. So we were taught many years ago. And the “in order to” keeps creeping in when it doesn’t need to..
Ranks down there with “the fact that …”
I’ve vowed to strike the first two words of those phrases whenever I find them in my writing — and succeed about 80% of the time.
I may have once mentioned the following , if so, please accept my apology. Every time I hear the word less used in places I was taught to use the word fewer, I bristle. My nerves jangle and I catch myself misjudging as badly educated folks who use the apparently acceptable new construction.
My reaction is much like yours.
Me too, guilty. I try not to be bothered, but:
More and fewer (if you can count them)
More and less (if you can’t count them (it)) with many for countable or much for uncountable
He drank fewer glasses of beer that night.
He drank less beer that night.
He drank more glasses of beer that night.
He drank more beer that night.
He drank many more glasses of beer that night.
He drank much more beer that night.
Get off my lawn! 🙂
I have the same reaction to the common use of “amount” where “number” (or “number of”) belongs. When i here things like “the amount of people trapped in the subway” I think of them as macerated, homogenized human pulp.
Yes, English is a “living language”, as one of my worst offender, and least coherent, co-workers puts it. I understand prescriptive vs descriptive grammar. But if words have no specific meaning, unambiguous communication becomes impossible which, in many fields, is very destructive or dangerous.
(sorry. Auto-correct got here vs hear. Edit refuses to work. Grr)
“…I think of them as macerated, homogenized human pulp”
Yes, one is just waiting for details such as : ‘the amount of people trapped in the subway is 17,309.44739108 kilograms’—sounding a bit gory!
I assume it’s not just being Joe Mathematician, but presume in general ‘more’, and ‘less’, and ‘amount of’ all should refer to continuous quantities; whereas ‘larger number of’ and ‘smaller number of’ and ‘number of’ all refer to the discrete, i.e. a non-negative integer.
Sorry to be pedantic and probably unnecessariy specific!
cancerous cells are living. There doesn’t seem to be much objection to stopping them.
I get irked by people saying ‘no pun intended’ or words to that effect when they haven’t made a pun, intentionally or otherwise.
I only say this when a pun is spoken (by me, very obviously) but isn’t intended. It just notes that I am not joking with the statement.
If you see me write “no pun intended”, you know I’m lying because, when I write a pun, I either didn’t notice it, or it was intended. If I don’t intend there to be a pun, I change the wording so there isn’t one.
I once wrote a paragraph with two sentences and each sentence, quite by chance, had five puns. I didn’t want any at all so I ruthlessly expunged them. You might think one or two would survive by dumb luck, but no pun in ten did.
LOL – very good, jeremy!
That’s fine if you have actually made a pun but what irritates me is the surprisingly frequent occasions when people say it having made no pun at all.
I once put almost a dozen entries into a pun contest, thinking that surely at least one would win a prize, but no pun in ten did. (my sincere apologies for this, but I could not stop myself)
Dammit, should have read one more comment before posting mine.
Agree on all of these Jerry (which isn’t always the case!).
How could one disagree? He is the expert on what he detests and why he detests what he detests 🙂 You may not detest what he detests, but to demonstrate that he does not detest something he insists he detests is difficult 🙂
According to Wictionary, “impactful” goes back to about 1940 although the earliest quotation it cites comes from 1950. https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/impactful The same source cites the 1913 edition of Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary for “advancement”.
That isn’t to say that these words aren’t annoying, just that they are less recent neologisms than are commonly assumed. (I’m pretty sure that I have mentioned below the line on similar occasions that the oftentimes denigrated “impact”, as a verb, dates to the 1600s and predates the noun form by a couple of centuries.)
When it comes to the odious “going forward”, this was complained about in The Grauniad just over a decade ago, but sadly to no avail. [“Superfluous, meaningless but ubiquitous, it arrived from corporate America and now permeates every area of our lives”, 30 August 2011]
Yes, I agree. If it’s not free, then it’s not a gift!
Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes (Virgil).
It’s really only the first stanza of this poem of mine that relates to the topic, but I throw the whole thing in, free of charge.
Rough Draft for a Living Language
by Gary Miranda
First of all, we will have to eliminate
useless phrases. “Needless to say,”
should be the first to go. Then, “If I
were you”—as if you weren’t, or wouldn’t
do exactly what I’m doing if you were,
so why bother? Everyone’s everyone.
Secondly, we will have to increase
the distance between the words, so that
listening might enter our active
vocabulary. This precludes, of course,
present telephone rates or operators insisting
your three minutes are up. Nothing is simple.
Next, we will have to learn again
to remember—not in code, as we do
now, or simply as a reflex action, but
passionately, knowing that words are
events, invisible, and will not survive
if put in cages. Not for long.
Finally, we will have to teach ourselves
the long patience of the not-born, slow
as the eye’s perception of exploding stars
seen from a distance no one has ever
traveled, or everyone has but doesn’t
remember, or hasn’t the patience to tell us,
knowing, needless to say, we aren’t listening.
A couple of comments:
– maybe I’m giving too much credit to the writer, but I suspect that “suped-up” was intentional, making reference to the word “supes” as a general slang for “superheroes”.
– regarding “going forward” – I’m not wild about it either, but I have to admit that it conveys something useful. To me, it means “effective now, and continuing into the future”, while “next” means that something will happen right away, but won’t necessarily continue happening. And just “in the future” suggests that at some point in the future this thing will happen, but not necessarily starting now.
As for phrases that bug me, dare I suggest “can’t be arsed” without causing offense to our host? 😬
I recently learned that the British have a more elegant phrase for that meaning you (correctly) find useful: “in future”.
I often find it in The Economist, and had always thought it was just a curious British variation of “in the future”. But it turns out that the British say “in the future” for “at a future point in time”, and “in future” for “from now on”.
And of course ‘from now on’ is a perfectly serviceable phrase for conveying this concept.
Good point; I’ll have to mentally replace it next time I hear “going forward” and see if it works.
Suped-up (not sure of the spelling) to me has always meant a hot-rodded vehicle, or really any engine powered thing in which the engine has been modified to produce more power. But that meaning is lost in the mists of time I suppose.
I used to have a principal who would drop “going (or moving) forward” into so many sentences during staff meetings, that I would keep a tally so I would look to him like I was remaining attentive.
During one particularly chaotic period during the Mike Harris provincial government in Ontario, Canada, he said “We continue to move forward during a fluid situation.” I love-hated that one.
He went on to higher positions with the school board and would send out emails to all staff updating them about various policies and activities. Without fail, there would be a minimum of four and sometimes over ten uses of some form of the word “continue”, sometimes even including a two-fer like, We continue with the continuation of the project as we move forward.”
Oh and “co-create”. This one comes from a provincial government expert who insisted to a room of high school science teachers that we are tto co-create the curriculum with our students. When challenged on this with a question of how exactly one could co-create the proper way of doing vector addition if for example, the whole class decided they’d rather add tail to head and tail to tail in a random way, he doubled down and insisted we should allow it. Because I worked for a publicly funded Catholic school that admitted students of many Christian (and other) faiths, whenever a lesson was going off the rails a bit, I would just tell myself not to worry. It is what it is, and moving forward in this fluid situation, I will continue to co-create the curriculum in our caring Catholic Christian community. (I called that the seven seas).
After being repeatedly confused over quite some time, I finally looked up the meaning of ‘exception that proves the rule’.
I guess it is more an exception that ‘probes’ the rule , and the cause of why that exception turns out to be an exception might indeed confirm the general rule.
Problematic seems like a weasel word to me (no offense to weasels). It’s like the speaker doesn’t want to say something is a problem or flat out wrong, and have to explain why. It seems to convey something about which we should be careful to give due thought, with the expectation that we will, in course, reject it.
It is not the word ‘problematic’ that is a problem, but the way it is often used that is problematic.
English is indeed a fast-evolving language, but not always in a good and unproblematic way, for my following analytical post presents in lucid detail one of the most damning proofs of the linguistic decline and grammatical degeneration increasingly afflicting English:
You are welcome to alert me of other examples that you can think of or have come across by leaving a comment there.
Given your invitation, how about “unproblematic”?
Dear Ken Kukec,
Let me put it across to you more pictorially and less (un)problematically:
Dear Ken Kukec,
The majorly anticipated visit and perusal by Ken Kukec of SoundEagle‘s said post entitled “⚠️ Use WITH Caution Or Not At All 📝📜” can crisply illustrate the impactful role of a substantial advancement in linguistic discernment going forward.
I’m with you there!
Oops, should have read the comments below.
Dear Nicolaas Stempels,
Thank you! Let me express this sonically for you with my musical composition entitled “I’ll Always Be With You (finale)”:
This is a very contrasting version to the one that I introduced to JezGrove earlier.
“Advancement. …. Anyone using it is being pretentious.”
I very much agree with that, except maybe as follows. I am a retired academic, who suddenly noticed that my university had somehow added more financial strain by means of yet a new vice-president, of “advancement” of all things. It was not immediately clear to me, but really this person was Vice-President for sucking up to every graduate who had started to make a decent amount of money and so would hopefully donate to the institution’s endowment. Maybe they actually ameliorate financial strain, and maybe they need some kind of overblown title in order to be effective. But stay the hell off the major deciding bodies at the full university level.
There seem to be plenty of universities who have adopted this pretentious meaningless name. Ours probably isn’t but I’ll bet in some, he or she has a department budget bigger than that for math, physics and biology combined.
So maybe in this case it’s partly pretentious. But it’s also a product of administrators seeking evermore control over what one famous such prof (cannot remember who) stood up and told Eisenhower after a speech to faculty at Columbia U. IIRC: “Sir, we are not employees of the university. We ARE the university.” (which needs to be said in some form, though that may be a bit extreme).
To repeat for perhaps the 4th time, I definitely hate that “going forward” of the PR men and the politicians.
“Staff” used to indicate one member of a staff composed of more than one person. Causes unnecessary confusion. “Staffer” has quite nicely sufficed for a long time. “Staffs” clearly enough indicates two or more separate staffs, each of which composed of more than one person.
I once observed someone, who used “staff” as if it indicated a single person, gratuitously insult another who used it to indicate more than one person. The former told the latter, “I thought we were having an informed discussion.” The latter replied, employing a four-letter moniker to liken the former to an odious male member.
I am amused by signs that advise one to ‘Ask one of our friendly staff members’. Occasionally I ask how one identifies the friendly ones, and get a very blank stare.
And to answer your question: “What words curl the soles of your shoes?”
It is a particular four-letter word.
It is not the F word, the C word, or even the L word “Like”.
It is the W word “With“, as fully explicated in my aforementioned analytical post.
I’m er… “with” you on that particular bugbear, SoundEagle.
Oh, why thank you! Now I shall express this sonically for you with my musical composition entitled “I’ll Always Be With You”:
Thanks – that was wonderful!
You are very welcome. Have you had a chance to visit and peruse my aforementioned post entitled “⚠️ Use WITH Caution Or Not At All 📝📜“? I am very curious to see what example(s) you can come up with.
“reached out” instead of spoke to, called. etc.
Yes!! I was about to say so myself.
Once upon a time, companies, Government Departments or PR apparatchiks would write, call, email, contact, get in touch with, or even come round and see you. Now all the buggers do is ‘reach out’ to you.
I want an apology, an explanation or a tax rebate. I don’t want to be reached out to. It’s even worse than ‘touch base with’, which itself is the pits.
Oh, and ‘problematic’ is, um, problematic.
Thank you. I wordsearched the comments to see if anyone had already mentioned that one. (That said, I’m OK with The Four Tops’ song.
I also dislike ‘reach out’, but it very often has a useful meaning not covered by speak to, call, contact, ie, attempt unsuccessfully to speak to etc.
My peeve is ‘decimate’, as in ‘The tornado decimated my house’ or ‘The platoon was totally decimated by the ambush.’ Like many peeves here, this is very probably a lost cause.
Yes to “reached out”! I get the image of a gospel choir in my head every time someone says this.
A few words I just HATE: adumbration … limn … lucubration … Jerry.
The phrase that’s been grinding my gears recently is ‘mix and match’, which has been getting a lot of use lately when talking about vaccine boosters. Invariably, what they’re talking about is mixing – there’s never any matching going on. So why do people feel the urge to say ‘mix and match’, when a simple ‘mix’ is what they mean?
BTW, for my recent booster shot, I did not mix – I matched my two previous Pfizer shots with a third one.
I detest “utilize” when “use” will do.
“I detest ‘utilize’ when ‘use’ will do.”
When I was hired as an editor for the Kaiser Center for Health research in Portland I complained loudly that they always said “health care utilization” rather than “health care use.” Their response: “Get utiilized to it.”
I contemplate the differing pronunciations of “use” as a noun and as a verb.
“Likely” as an adverb. Fashionable but unforgivable.
I often hear,”Now I’m turning the meeting back over to so-and-so.” Meetings don’t turn over but I could excuse that. It’s the “back” that irrates me.
Ooooh! Thanks for the reminder. Want raise my hackles? Say, “We’re going to revert BACK to the old method tomorrow.”
Revert “contains” back!
I hate “as well” as in “also coming up is the weather, as well.” Most people don’t say “as well” much but news people pad their sentences liberally with it. They must be taught in journalism school that it makes you sound smart.
“Cognizant” I hate, too. “Aware” is such a better word.
“At pace”. It’s everywhere now. By the way RIP to “sitting” and “standing”, now replaced by “sat” and “stood”.
A truly horrible phrase is “the cotton ceiling” – as Kathleen Stock describes it in her book Material Girls
Oops, I meant to add the citation: Morgan Page (2012), publicity material for the workshop ‘Overcoming the Cotton Ceiling: Breaking Down Sexual Barriers for Queer Trans Women’, Planned Parenthood Toronto
How revolting. The rabidness of the trans movement makes me angry. ‘Trans women with male entitlement’ is what it is!
instead of the proper word, maths.
What would you like or prefer?
I remember in high school algebra when first exposed to “extraneous” roots when dealing with solving for “x” in quadratic equations. The term was simply thrown out there, apparently to be “taken on faith.” Where do these “extraneous” roots come from? Limbo? A rift in the fabric of the space-time continuum? Is this part of “fuzzy” math?
HaHa! You may indeed or might as well raise similar question about complex numbers, which revolve around the square root of -1, namely, √(−1), the “unit” imaginary number.
How long is a piece of string (especially one with fractality)?
I have left maths behind quite a long time ago, as fascinating as they are, such as those that deal with fluid mechanics and quantum mechanics, never mind string theory. Would logic even suffice in some of the really weird, fanciful or speculative stuff? Let me express this sonically for you with my musical composition entitled “Logic in Transit“:
I believe most style guides eschew the use of a hyphen in compound modifiers where the adverb ends in “ly.”
Not that I would otherwise endorse this abomination.
Dear Ken Kukec,
However, as an adjective, high-impact needs to be hyphenated as shown.
“Epicentre”, except when discussing earthquakes or underground explosions.
I do realise that the current unnecessary and pretentious usage replacing “centre” is firmly entrenched, but I don’t have to like it.
Epicentre ≠ Centre is similar to or as much as Epigenetics ≠ Genetics
You’ve highlighted something important here. The incorrect use has become so entrenched that if a writer said, “Neighbourhood X is at the very centre of the current wave of anti-Y feeling.”, readers might think, “Hunh? How does she know where the centre is?”…and then finally get it: “Oh, she meant epicentre. OK, then.” It’s as if the incorrect use becomes a meaningless cliché necessary for creating something out of nothing that the correct use can’t quite manage.
Ugh. Spell it properly or not at all.
“The thing is, is that … “
“Absolutely!” in response to an interviewer’s question or by public speakers in the Q&A portions of their talks. I’ve come to hear it as a gratuitous compliment to the questioner, as if to say “That’s an excellent question, good for you! It’s also one that I’ve actually thought about…” Irritatingly, what follows in response is often a very hedged/nuanced answer that eventually negates the “absolute” premise of the initial response.
More of a grammar thing than a word issue but I hate when people pluralize s-ending words like Texas or Achilles or Dickens, by adding an ’s ending. Seeing it on paper isn’t too bad but hearing it pronounced [tex-zus-iz] or [dick-inz-iz], just sounds awkward to me.
Texas’ or Dickens’ or Achilles’ all looks and sound so much better.
I hear it all the time from national news broadcasters saying something like “Texas’s new abortion law”.
Although thinking about it almost no one says Achilles’s heel as [a-chee-liz-iz] heel, I nearly always hear it Achilles’ heel.
I Googled it to see what was proper but apparently grammar guides disagree:
——The Chicago Manual of Style now recommends that all proper names ending in -s form the possessive by adding ’s.
—-The New York Times style manual generally agrees with CMOS, but adds this wrinkle: Omit the s after the apostrophe when a word ends in two sibilant sounds separated only by a vowel sound: Kansas’ Governor; Texas’ population; Moses’ behalf…
——the Associated Press Style Book opts for a single apostrophe for all proper names ending in -s.
So there you have it. Take your pick I guess.
Another is “enormity” when what is meant is “enormousness” or “hugeness” or “vastness”. Enormity implies that something is heinous or depraved not just its size.
I very much concur with you about the definition and more definitive use of “enormity”, though it has also been widely accepted (especially in America) to indicate (in neutral use) large size or scale.
First, Chicago is right here, no contest.
Second, your talking about possessives, not “pluralizing”.
Yes, of course, thanks. I was a little tired when I wrote that. Thanks for clarifying.
How does one properly handle the possessive of “Jones”?
I don’t agree.
“He received an advance.”
“She received an advancement.”
The former is a monetary sum often received by writers in the expectation that the book they are writing will make vast wads of cash for their publisher.
The latter is an incremental step in one’s career. Typically, you wouldn’t put in the indefinite article but I wanted to make the sentences symmetrical.
I would argue that your example to illustrate this detestament* is not merely using a longer word where a shorter one will do, but using the wrong word. Medical advances are new vaccines. Medical advancements are doctors career progressions.
*copyright Jeremy Pereira 2021.
‘Invertebrate advancement (the rise of the molluscs expecting a raise) has this ‘Je ne sais quoi’ quality to it.
It conjures up this image of huge administrative departments populated by people squatting at their desks doing squat.
I’m currently sitting in a lecture where the speaker started by giving a list of the buzzwords that he’s going to try to avoid using.
Well, I see your point. However I feel that that she crisply describes the benefits that users of Ivermectin are majorly seeking. And going forward, this may turn out to be an impactful advancement in the treatment – of drivelitis.
Peter Hoffman (19) correctly identified the meaning of “advancement” at universities– it means fund raising. Formerly, fundraisers were in charge of “development”, but now it’s “advancement”. The Vice President for Development is now the Vice President for Advancement. Under either title, the job is to schmooze businesses and the rich seeking money.
Sportscasters and athletes constantly say things like, “The weather’s going to play a factor today.”
You can BE a factor, or PLAY a role.
“Keeping across” now BBC speak for following or keeping up with.
“Get a result” football speak for GOOD ir POSITIVE result.
The recent explosion of people saying “oh my days!”. I think it might be a British thing.
And “pivot” was my most hated word of 2020. I also hate “workflow”.
And “my bad”. Makes no grammatical sense.