Words I don’t like… but, as a copywriter, sometimes have to use

I have friend who strongly objects to the words ‘juxtaposition’ and ‘moist’. Her objection to the latter is so strong that she has been known to tell people off for using it, but she is not alone, my research suggests that, as a nation, we prefer our vocabulary desiccated rather than clammy. We all have them, the words that irritate, grating on our nerves whenever we hear, read or (God forbid) say them. As a copywriter I have to be prepared to write about anything (well nearly anything) and use vocabulary that will be appreciated by my target audience. This has led me to some conflict and the occasional trip to the confessional (in the form of my husband) to admit my guilt. Here are my three most disliked word-rant words.

Leverage (verb)

It took me ages to work out what everyone meant when they were using this word. I dislike it for both its meaning and the ethos it represents. To leverage something is to use it to maximum advantage and can refer to situations, finances or even relationships. To me, this smacks of greed, manipulation and a liking for crowbars. No thank you… but I have used it in several marketing blog posts.

Leverage Alternatives – ‘make the most of’, ‘control’, ‘take advantage of’

Incentivise (verb)

I am convinced that this over-inflated vexation has no place in our hallowed English dictionaries. Even worse when spelt with a ‘z’, incentivise is merely a lazy way of saying, ‘provide an incentive’. Although it is interesting to consider a link between modern messaging-type communication and the shortening of phrases, I am still not convinced. Imagine what the world would be like if we all started ‘nutritionising’ our children, ‘solutionising’ our problems and ‘toiletising’ ourselves. Ridiculous!

Incentivise Alternatives – ‘incite’, ‘encourage’, ‘motivate’

Vomit (verb)

I don’t do vomit; neither the word nor the excretion itself. I don’t know if you have noticed but too many of the words for this forceful bodily response are on the onomatopoeic side. If you are unsure about this, allow me to suggest an experiment. Kneel beside the toilet (you can leverage it if you want to) and shout the first two alternative words below in the style of a hungover teenager. Come to think of it, maybe ‘vomit’ isn’t so bad after all.

Vomit Alternatives – ‘puke’, ‘barf’, ‘greet your guts’

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