Words I hate: Part I

What follows is only the beginning of a collection of words and phrases that I loathe. When I hear them or see them in print, I am tempted to apoplexy.

issue “What is her issue?” is the feminine euphemism for “What is her problem?” Men who use the word in this sense are telegraphing their slide toward metrosexualism. “Our system had issues and couldn’t process your check.” No, it didn’t. It screwed up. It has problems. And so do you when you swap issue for problem.

utilize George Bretherton of the New York Times asks when it is right to “utilize the two-point conversion?” That’s wrong two ways. You can’t utilize the two-point conversion. You may attempt it, and if you could run a play, you should use it not utilize it (a word that was never heard in any huddle). From the same people who screen films instead of watch movies, we have the pretentious, unnecessary replacement for use. Or utilization for usage.

lifestyle “There’s a lifestyle issue involved in this,” says Ted Kulongoski on Kate Galbraith’s New York Times Green, Inc. blog. “They’re not just diaper bags, but lifestyle bags,” runs the copy for Yikes Designer Messenger Diaper Bags (I weep, I really do). You have a life, a time in which you engage in activities, most of which will be dull, others exciting. Those activities will define the style of your life. All people thus have a lifestyle. But that is not what lifestyle means: it is a snobbish word used by advertisers and publishers who want to convince you that you are not spending enough money on useless (utilizationless?) trinkets or real estate.

designer “The celebrities who have received Mackerilla Designer totes have been absolutely thrilled upon seeing them.” Well. Celebrities liked them. Nothing more need be said, I suppose. Except that every damn man-made object was designed by somebody. Everything has a designer! If your ears perk up when you hear this word, you signal a willingness to engage in unnecessary expense, a desire for fashion over style, for fad and shallowness over depth, and the unnatural craving to be liked be others because of your purchases.

awareness “We’re holding a splenetic fever Awareness Day!” Thus shouts the broadsheet. Very well, I am aware of splenetic fever. Now go away and leave me alone. And I will not wear your damned fuchsia splenetic-fever-awareness ribbon.

from As in “prices from the low 500s.” Since from is logically consistent with without limit, including it in an advertisement conveys almost no information whatsoever and is thus there only to induce suckers.

My time is short and I am busy, hence the “Part I”. But I invite you to include your own distasteful words.


  1. George

    The usage of “from” and “up to” in adverts is ridiculous. It’s interesting to see how the adverts read if you replace them with logical equivalents, i.e. instead of “from”, say “at least”, and instead of “up to” say “at most”. Unfortunately “more than” and “less than” don’t quite work.

    Essentially the advertiser is just stating that they won’t offer you a better deal than the one quoted. Perhaps you could make a case to the ASA if they actually did offer you a better deal.

    Ultimately, though, I find words like these less annoying than vacuous phrases and non-sequiturs in advertisments, especially on television. There seems to be a trend these days of starting an advert with a random, vague “lifestyle” question (“Wouldn’t you like to …?”), followed by a suggestion to try their product, without explicitly asserting that it will help you to achieve that aim.

    But worst of all are the carefully unscientific statistical claims, usually resulting from polling an unqualified audience (e.g. ask the patient, not the doctor) with very vague acceptance criteria (do you “think” it “helped” to make you “feel” better?). Sometimes the people in the ad almost openly state that their response is based purely on what it says on the box – as if the made-up names for the ingredients actually meant something.

  2. Ari

    I hate the term “ethnic food.”

    Or “ethnic” anything. What a meaningless term that borders on cultural misogyny (another term to dislike? Maybe.)

  3. JD

    I nominate price point. Is adding point to price supposed to convey some information? I’ve missed the point if that’s the case.

  4. mbabbitt

    I hate the word, “sustainable” and its negative, “not sustainable”. It is used as a cloak and euphemism for all sorts of mischief or stupidity: corporate criminall activity; excuses why not to use something even though it might be around another 200 years (like oil).

  5. JJD

    How about “point in time,” as in “at this point in time we have not defined our budget objectives”. Another one is “on the ground,” as in “our representative is on the ground at the widget technology conference.” Oh, really? Groveling at someone’s feet, or what?

  6. Scumop

    Film screening awareness week has just begun. Although we have supplier issues, we are offering t-shirts, caps and mugs priced from $20. Please utilize our website at your earliest opportunity.

    I would have worked in “on the ground” but it would involve a gratuitous act of violence and a ground-ward collapse. If he got back up, the activity could be repeated in a sustainable fashion.

  7. bd

    I can’t stand empower. As in women’s empowerment. Or to empower people to make healthy choices. You can’t give people power they already have. To empower someone is to grant them a power or authority they naturally do not have. As in empowering the President to be the Commander in Chief. I do disagree with your peeve about utilize. I use the word utilize when it is appropriate. To utilize something is to give it a utility or to endow it with a quality that it does not or is not perceived to ordinarily have. It is almost like empowerment.

  8. Mike B

    “Analyzation” – Some people actually think it sounds more sophisticated than “analysis”.
    “On Line” – Not in the internet sense, but “On Line at the movie theater or the DMV”. You’re IN the freaking line, not ON it, ya dope.

  9. Bruce Foutch

    “Designed to” or “engineered to” as in engineered to be the best car in its class or designed to provide years of service. These two terms always beg the questions – is it the best car or does it provide years of service?

    I may have bought a Formula 1 race car “engineered to” be the fastest in the world, but can it win the race?

  10. Ari

    Mike B,

    I’ve been in New York long enough that I’m used to being “on line.” It’s unfortunate.

    Oh, another “word” I hate: irregardless. Hate. HATE.

  11. Briggs

    Amen, brother Bruce, amen.

  12. Alan D. McIntire

    The term “media” irritates me, and the phrase, “the media is” drives me nuts!

  13. I second mbabbitt’s objection to ‘sustainable’. It had a somewhat silly meaning when it first came to be used in an environmental context. But now it is becoming cancerous. This morning, a radio program was bemoaning the suffering of unemployed, and in particular the alleged insufficiency of the government unemployment payments to keep them housed. One silly girl — a spokesperson for something or other — insisted that the payments were so low as to make their efforts to live in the city ‘unsustainable’.


  14. Kevin Jackson

    ari: There was a chat room I knew of a few years back where the owner changed the software so that if someone typed in “irregardless” it displayed as “disirregardless”.

    My most hated phrase is “I’d like to”, as in “I’d like to welcome you out to this event”. If you’d like to welcome me, just do it. I like to imagine the implied but in there: “I’d like to welcome you to this event, but I won’t.”

  15. JT

    I hate the use of “impact” as an overblown synonym for “affect” or “effect”, and the use of “impacting” as in, “co2 emissions are impacting global climate”, is just insufferable.

  16. DAV

    I dislike unnecessary redundancy: “Baked fresh” as in “baked fresh daily.” If recently baked it IS fresh. What’s wrong with “baked fresh?”

    I recently saw a press conference where it was stated: “The ship sank at 0300 in the morning.” Isn’t 0300 ALWAYS in the morning?

    I also dislike the tendency toward quantification of immeasurable values: “50% more taste”. If A is more tasty than B then how can it be only halfway so? Even with taste ratings, the scales aren’t really comparable from person to person. “B has 50% more taste than A” implies that B is 50% closer to the ultimate taste sensation than A whatever that is.

  17. DAV

    Silly third sentence! It should have said: What’s wrong with “baked daily?”

  18. Hilfy

    Here’s my two cents:
    Politically correct with all its baggage
    (insert mild descriptive word here) – challenged as if this would soften the blow of an adversity.

  19. Rich

    On my flight home yesterday from holiday: “Good morning ladies and gentlemen, my name is [Her name] and I’ll be your customer experience manager for this flight.”

    DAV: “I dislike unnecessary redundancy” – priceless.

  20. david t sanson

    Closure. Maybe because I associate it with the type of public display of private emotional event. Kinda the psycological equivalent of showing a surgical scar in a private place.

  21. david t sanson

    “0300 in the morning” just a noob to 24 hr time. Don’t be too hard on them. They might seek closure.

  22. Please add “community” to the list. I don’t mean vernacular communities — those actual towns that actually exist in real places. I mean virtual “communities” that are ersatz, pseudo-communities in concept only. Calling one’s special interest group a “community” is common these days, some examples being the Internet community, the bowling community, and the toe fungus community.

    Another word to throw in the burn barrel is “biodiversity” a meaningless (profoundly unmeasurable) buzzy noise worshipped by bug-eyed apoplectics.

  23. jae

    “Organic” and “green,” as used by elitists who believe, in their simplistic little hearts, that they are more informed and “holy” than us blue-collar centrists. Organic means it contains a carbon atom, and green is a color. Period.

  24. Bruce Foutch

    Jae brought that nasty word “Carbon” up, so I vote to add “Carbon Free” to the list. Its use ranges from the meaningless to the ridiculous, as used here:


    Any chemists want to weigh in on the possibility of “carbon free” sugar… ???

  25. Ok, it’s not one word, but as the veep would say, “Three words: I could care less.”

  26. Joy

    De riggeur,
    Mission statement,
    cockey wanna be scientists, say We’ve evolved beyond such behaviour.” No we haven’t! Climbing out of the sea using your gills, that’s evolution, refusing to stand up on the train for a lady? That’s not evolution, nor is refusing the seat when you’re offered with a scowl, it’s just rude. So, girls who think they are more evolved, stop being ungracious, and guys, please stop boasting about how well evolved “we are” you’re just expressing your political and social habits, not your superior genes. its another example of using a word with scientific association to justify a claim. Do what you like but don’t kid yourself that you are a higher being. My dog has often raced me to the seat!

    if something is prepared then frozen then baked, it is not baked fresh. Pies and bread are often stored semi-prepared and then baked to give the impression of freshness. A reasonable boast for the fresher baker maybe as opposed to the mass produced just fresh from the oven food.

    If it’s a technical thing it should be described as a ‘problem’ like Houston’s was. People have issues machines and numbers have problems. Patients have problems too, maybe that’s why people don’t like the word. Which reminds me that we had a German Dr, very sweet, and well meaning, said to the worst patient he could have picked,
    “So Vat is on your agenda today?” Fireworks ensued.
    Other Americanisms: “I’m just being ironic”, causality, “normalcy”: no such words.

    Today someone used the word “model” at me, In defence, as if just because their argument was based on a certain model, it gave them immunity to criticism, but they don’t understand what they mean by model! It’s infuriating and it’s all the stochastician’s fault.

    I’ll wager Briggers wrote at least one today! They can’t help themselves. We should try to help them,

    “telegraphing their slide towards metrosexualism” I wonder sometimes, really I do. You do it on purpose.

  27. DAV

    Joy, do you bake?

    I’m curious: what is the difference between “fresh” and the indistinguishable “impression of freshness”? If it was distinguishable then it wouldn’t convey the impression, yes? I think most people would agree that “freshness” is measured from the time of baking vs. the time of mixing. The opposite is “stale” which is mostly characterized by moisture loss over time.

  28. Joy


    Baking is the only kind of cooking I love, although I do have an A-level in Domestic science! Which, I believe qualifies me as a serious scientist.
    I know exactly what you mean about the fresh baked thing, the distinction is an understandable one though on the part of the baker; I thought about this when I was eating garlic bread that had been frozen part baked, It’s very different from freshly baked bread. Many restaurants cook food that’s been mostly prepared before and then cooked on the premises, (if you go to English pubs you will be familiar with the breaded mushroom or the nasty chicken kiev). This is freshly cooked but is not the same as fresh chicken breast, for example, cooked from scratch. I guess what I’m saying is that the opposite is frozen, not stale. I think that’s the distinction they’re trying to make.

    Interesting thing about the stale word, cakes go hard when they’re stale, biscuits go bendy. There’s nothing worse than a bendy biscuit. Unless, of course it’s an American style cookie, or a home made biscuit that’s supposed to be chewy. How about fresh pasta versus the usual rehydrated type which cannot be described as stale? There’s no comparison in flavour which ever is preferred. Fresh peas or tinned or frozen ones. Fresh should mean non-processed. Because that describes the product at least.
    Stale beer is another thing again. The smell is different, can’t say I am a connoisseur of the taste difference.
    The difference between a cake and a biscuit:

  29. How about

    Toxic assets = bad loans (or contractual obligations). Much more to the point. Or will the EPA have to set up a Superfund to clean all those foreclosed homes since they are not inhabitable.

    Stress testing. What the hell does stress testing a bank mean? Either your company has the capital reserves to handle future bad loans (see above) or it does not.

    Methodology = method. See the utilise / use.

    From city planners – “Green space” which is probably best defined as “an area paved over and painted green.”

    Consider reading the comic “Non Sequitur” from about the 11-15th May 09 for a wonderful use of the term “enhanced studying”

  30. masmit

    On the other hand, today’s crime against language is tomorrow’s ordinary usage.

    When my Dad was at school in the 1920s, boys at his school were punished for using those awful words “reliable” and “dependable”.

  31. Dorf

    Foreign Country seems overly redundant since from my perspective all countries besides my own are foreign.

  32. DAV

    Joy, those are some thoughts to chew on however I remember the phrase from almost 60 years ago on a sign outside of a bakery. I think they really meant to say “freshly baked”.

    Reminds me. When I was a teenager I saw a sign on a diner advertising “egg omelets” — as if there’s some other kind!

  33. Steve Hempell


    As in the first word after a question.

  34. “potentiality”

    Otherwise I second, third, fourth and fifth “utilize.” What an annoying word.

  35. Joy

    Sixty years ago, in the 1930’s, they were allowed to say what they liked, and I’m with you on the omelette.

    “call them up” No! “call them”
    “meet with her” No, you meet someone you don’t meet with them.
    “dated” the act of applying date like qualities to someone or applying a date stamp about their person.
    “I dated her.” No, you made a date with her.
    If in doubt add a meaningless inaccurate suffix.
    “usage” instead of use; another example of the extra endings added by people trying to sound educated.
    To use the suffix “ize” to make it sound like you put the word through a special process! The one from which I am still recovering is “self actualized” What, on God’s earth or any other Earth does that mean? it’ll have an equally cheesy definition. Is it something you have to do to yourself or does it just happen, like a sort of decay?
    “hospitalization”, the process of turning someone into a hospital.
    No one ever said, “He robbed a bank, and now he’s been prisonalised.”
    “T things up”
    “moving forward”
    “robust”, a perfectly good word, now used by managers and, again, those trying to sell something that really needs the hard sell.
    “pencil you in”.
    I once went out with someone who I felt a little sorry for who said he would pencil me in! So rude he was; so non-assertive was I that it took me several attempts to tell him I was busy. He was the most pompous, rude, dull and pretentious person I had ever seen, presumptuous too.
    “Well, did you tell him?”, “No, I’m seeing him next week, he has a ‘window’. He’s really keen”

    “quantify your uncertainty”. I prefer “count your blessings.” I suggest the phrase be inserted into the next version of “real life probability.” And that the part about the three pairs of trousers and three shirts for a whole new wardrobe be altered as it is unfair to split the side of the reader when they are trying to concentrate. Any girl knows it takes more than three bottoms and three tops to make a wardrobe.

  36. DAV

    Joy: “hospitalization”, the process of turning someone into a hospital.

    LOL! Is that like tomato sauce being made from tomato but steak sauce not being made from steak? If tin whistles are made of tin what are foghorns made of? I miss Carlin.

    “count your blessings.” Not me, thanks! I’m a born pessimist. It’s well known that every silver lining is surrounded by at least one cloud.

    Without these things in “usage” language would be boring-“ish”.

  37. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this when I first read the post, but the use of ‘linear’ to mean ‘sequential’ or ‘serially ordered’ is annoying to me, at least in scientific literature. ‘Linear’ has a perfectly useful (utilitiful? utilizy?) mathematical definition that is distinct from sequential, both of which can succinctly communicate technical concepts.

    Restore pithiness to our scientifico-scholarly disquisitions via utilization of the conciser verbiage, colleagues! Disallow pleonasm from the despoilment of the elucidative dissemination of informational interchange.

  38. Matt, the comments on this post provide [or do they utilize?] a paradigm of the evolution of the English language.

  39. Steve

    Excellent. Designer and lifestyle, in particular, make me grit my teeth. I do, however, think celebrity is a useful word – when used as a euphemism for brain dead.

  40. Joy writes that “Hospitalization” is the process of turning someone into a hospital.

    Do let’s try to keep this intelligent. By this logic, “regularization” is the process of turning someone into a regular and “ostracization” is the process of turning someone into an ostraciz..ed…oh, you get my point. When I say that someone has been “matriculated,” I don’t mean that I’ve made them a matix (etymology notwithstanding), I mean that I’ve admitted them to our (educational) institution. When I say that someone has been hospitalized, I mean that they’ve gone through the process of being admitted to a hospital (a quite bureaucratic procedure – especially where the NHS is involved). Derivational morphemes are known to have idiosyncratic effects on the words on which they operate. As anyone who has cracked a book on linguistics knows.

  41. DAV

    Moisture laden thermal energy loss reduction coverings aren’t any fun. BTW: the Latin word “matrix” means a registry or list. “Matriculate” is from its Medieval Latin diminutive, “matriculare,” meaning “to register”.

    Anyone ever notice you can shut down your computer but you never shut it up?

  42. DAV

    Sorry, meant to say “Middle Latin” above. My editing is almost as bad as Briggs’.

  43. “the Latin word ‘matrix’ means a registry or list”

    Oh? Then I am wrong. I was sure it was from a Latin word (itself derived from “mater”) meaning “womb” or “pregnant animal.”

  44. DAV

    It means both actually but it isn’t clear how that came about (to me, anyway). Possibly confusion with the Greek “metra” or simply a reference to its other meaning, “source”.

  45. Greg Cavanagh

    Quote: “I hope you can join us to recognise and celebrate the amazing eco buildings, veggie gardens, sustainable transport champions and resource savers on the Sunshine Coast!

    Our guest speaker is Sidonie Carpenter, president of Green Roofs Australia. Have a look at http://greenroofs.wordpress.com/contact-us/

    An email I received this morning. That mouthful should be enough to send shivers up your spine.

    I used to be interesting in building an underground house. I considered their close relative the sod roof house, but not the other variant, the earth wall house. Now they are called eco buildings. It’s so insulting.

    I wanted to phone a health inspector this morning, but the nearest I could find was an Environmental Health Officer. I didn’t have the gumption to ring him and ask if he was a health inspector.

  46. D Johnson

    I realize that it’s a different type of error, but a mistake that really bugs me is someone saying “anticlimatic” when “anticlimactic” is intended. I think “anticlimatic” should be reserved for global warming skeptics like me. 😉

  47. Harry G

    If Part I is “Words that I Hate” then am I right in guessing that Part II will be “Phrases that I hate”?

    If so, here is my offerring of most hated phrase.

    “At the end of the Day”

    It really does have the capacity to annoy me to the extent that I stop listening whenever I hear it.

  48. Ed Snack

    Orientate instead of orient ?

    Face it though, we often use these words, not because we’re lazy or ignorant, but knowing what we do, to make purists squirm !

  49. Rich

    I notice that, where we say in England, “I couldn’t care less”, American speakers say, “I could care less” and both are used to mean, “I care as little as possible”. I mentally stumble over the American usage every time. (No, “use” doesn’t fit).

    Not a word as such but I’m irritated by the use of an apostrophe to signal the possessive on words that end in ‘s’ but which are not plural, especially names. Especially my name.

    What belongs to Briggs is Briggs’s not Briggs’.

  50. JH

    This post and comments crack me up, partly because almost all of you attack the word without attacking the user.

    I cannot tell you how many times (too many) I have heard people say “I hate math.” The word “math” is probably the most hated. It’s sad that mathematics is abbreviated as “math,” a four-letter word.

    The. I didn’t like this definite article in English… I disliked it…worse, I hated it. I know, I know, it’s innocent. I just hated the fact that I had (and still have) difficulty with the use of it. Well, “hatred is self-punishment,” so I forgave myself. 🙂

    My teen daughters were annoyed when I told them that they were unique or special. So, I don’t say that anymore.
    “OK, Mom. I will always remember that I am unique, just like everyone else.”
    “Mei*, Mom is not a complete idiot. Some parts are missing.”

    *Mei means “younger sister” in Chinese.

  51. DAV

    One last thought: “What is her issue?” A child perhaps.

    JH, “work” is also a four-letter word. Some hate it more than “math”.

  52. Doug M

    Issue — The IT help desk introduced me to this one many years ago. I told them I had a problem, they told me, “no, you have an issue.” Somehow an “issue” is less vexing. The opposite is true. Problems can be solved. Issues are debated.

    Prices from the low 500’s — I like this one. New condominiums — One, two and three bedrooms — starting in the low 500’s. If prices start in the low 500s then I can infer that that is for the 1 bedroom with the minimal kitchen. The 3 bedroom with the de-lux kitchen should cost around 900. It is a phrase that says you can’t afford it while somehow making it sound inexpensive.

    My peeves
    Misuse of the adverbial form — “I didn’t think she would take that so personal.”
    Invite used as a noun (with the accent on the second syllable) – “I’ll send you an invite!”
    Task used as a verb – “I was tasked with this assignment.” Alias used this one once an episode.
    Ultimate sacrifice – it is cliché.
    African-American applied to non-Americans.

    Has been graduated – I know it is correct, but I always imagine the student has horizontal lines up his body.

  53. Joy

    Mater meant mother in the latin classes I attended at junior school. I guess American Latin is different. I love the Cha-cha.

    “Hospitalization”, the industrial phrase is hospital admission or admission to hospital. If you are speaking or writing in medical notes you write,
    “Admitted via A+E.” Takes about five minutes. It’s the waiting to get there that takes “no longer than eighteen weeks.”
    Never, would you say “hospitaliZed” If you see this written, it will be a bean counter or a media person spouting forth. That, or a gangster boasting that his victim was “hospitaliZed”
    The first time I heard the word was from the mouth of a traffic engineer. He “saved lives” by slowing down the traffic on our English roads. His name is Collin Chick, he wrote a book on the subject. “For every one mile an hour slower the traffic goes, there is a directly proportional drop in hospitaliSations.” Bless his heart, I nearly broke my neck following him down a ski run.

    When I checked what Hospitalisation was he counted anyone who simply went to A+E to justify a later compensation claim. So, one doesn’t apparently have to be admitted, just flirt with the A+E staff and you’re “hospitalized”. It won’t say that in your notes, anywhere.

  54. No, “mater” means “mother” in all Latin classes, just as “matrix,” a word possibly derived from “mater” and the word that was actually under discussion, means “womb.” All your comment illustrates is that you missed the section on derived forms in your junior school Latin class, which is a pity since that is the main lesson to be gained from learning Latin in the first place.

    “Hospitalization” – whether you spell it with the standard ‘z’ or the dialectal ‘s’ – means the process of admitting someone into a hospital. It means this because that is how it is generally used – in both spoken and written language, by laypersons and trained medical professionals alike. Evolution of terms in language is the norm; it has been going on since there has been human language. For this reason, it is simply fatuous to point to a morphological or etymological derivation as a basis for how a form should be used, or what it should mean, as your original comment on “hospitalization” did. A word means what it is conventionally used to mean, and the only intelligent basis for arguing against a conventional use is that it leads to confusion in some way. “Hospitalization” leads to confusion only of the wilfully ignorant kind, and and so it is therefore acceptable in its present form.

  55. Karen

    Not sure about your problem with “Designer”

    Plainly everything was designed by somebody but not everything was designed by a notable designer. Perhaps you can think up a better collective term to describe Hermes bags, Manolo Blahnik shoes et al.

  56. Briggs


    OK, Noted Designer then. It still indicates reckless spending, etc.

  57. Karen,

    Or maybe Snobized [or Snobised for Joy]. Same meaning as Matt’s, only fewer characters.

  58. Mike Pauwels

    I HATE hearing “That’s a good question.” as a opening response to what is too often a stupid question. Is the answerer patronizing his questioner or simply buying time to craft a suitable answer?

  59. Karen

    Full disclosure: I own no designer fashion.

    I hold no brief for designer goods but I detect a strand of disdain or moral opprobrium that I find disturbing and in need of challenge.

    Perhaps criticism is motivated by the intellectual desire to be seen to be above everyday things. Isn’t that a form of snobbery too? Perhaps we should all be Diogenes, forgoing earthly pleasures in order to be morally upright. I doubt Mr Briggs lives in a barrel. I suspect that many of the “necessities” he enjoys are not enjoyed by all peoples.

    I note that a principle motivation for many Greens is the disapproval of conspicuous consumption. Go back 100 years and Christian Evangelists would have made the same complaint. Well, compared to Diogenes we are all guilty of wasteful consumption. I find myself highly suspicious of people who would choose to control our day to day lives, the better to save the world. That’s not to say I disagree with anyone’s right to criticise such things but we live on the verge of an era when the prospect of being prevented by law from enjoying many of the benefits of modern life, like freedom to travel, is becoming very real.

    We might imagine that reckless spending is a new phenomena. Consider that all behaviours can be observed on a continuum running from one extreme to the other. A woman of 100 years ago who was then considered profligate would today be thought average if she bought the same amount of clothes. To our ancestors of five hundred years ago we all live lives of unimaginable abundance, even compared to the wealthy of those times. But, not surprisingly, as society’s wealth has increased, those at the top have grown wealthier too. The levels are new but the disdain is old.

    Is it the relative wealth that bothers? If so then we need to consider alternatives. However there are few workable ones to be found. Those societies that sought to eliminate relative wealth soon immiserated their entire populations but notably retained special homes, shops (and even car lanes) for the state’s apparatchiks so that they could enjoy the better things in life. They kept their designer goods.

    Given the relativity of the judgement, and assuming we can engineer a drop in “excess consumption”, it’s not clear why, in due course, we wouldn’t get used to the new levels and still regard many as profligate. What then? Keep cutting the tallest down until all are the same?

    Lots of consumable goods are available in a vast array of choices. Not surprisingly some are regarded as mundane and utilitarian whilst others are seen as being better quality or more desirable for other reasons. For example we can buy audio equipment from a chain store own-brand, Linn or B&O. Other examples could be drawn from cameras, phones, cars, restaurants, etc. Some of these are not denoted “Designer” but the status is present just the same. There is disagreement on which things are the best. Is B&O audiophile standard or is there a mark up for “looking good”? I note that many who are discerning when they buy things within their own area of interest, can be dismissive when reviewing the choices of others. Perhaps Mr Briggs is fussy about which restaurants he attends. I don’t see anything wrong with people discriminating in favour of something they think better, even if I wouldn’t do the same. People have the wealth to buy things and it is not for me to choose how they spend it.

    The point needs to be made that increased consumption is a result of increased wealth. And given more consumption it is inevitable that this is accompanied by greater discrimination on the part of the buyer into categories of better and worse. “Designer” is a signal showing our society’s relative wealth. Discrimination by the buyer is only enabled by their wealth. Only poverty can eliminate “Designer” goods.

    Myself, I note that consumption equals production equals jobs equals wealth shared around. Trade makes us all wealthier and the more there is the wealthier we all get. It’s hard to see how we can stop excess consumption without impeding all consumption.

    A thought to end

    Does our political decision to erect trade barriers to goods from Africa impeding them from trading their way out of poverty make us better people just because we forgo that consumption? I think not.

  60. Joy

    Mr Herring, lighten up.
    No, it is not used by trained medical professionals or any I have come across so far including this one. The post, ‘fun’ was ”words I hate”. I hate the word ‘hospitalization’ only slightly more than ‘hospitalisation’ because it has the American spelling as opposed to the English one, obviously! You are free to love it if you like and pepper your speech with it if it pleases you, and with as many z’s as you find necessary. What is odd is that you hate me hating Z’s! and you find time to hate me hating hospitalization! That’s got to take some effort.

    A realistic and descriptive word would be dilution of the ENGLISH language. Your evolution word illustrates the misuse of the word in political argument. It reminds me again why it is such a powerful word that carries far more weight than its meaning and origin deserves. ‘Slow change over time’ would be less objectionable, but of course, not so slick, in either the greasy or suave sense.

  61. Joy –

    Hate “hospitaliz/sation” all you like – just find intelligent reasons to do so. Words change and morphological and etymological derivations are not regular – get used to it.

  62. Joy

    Flocinocinihilipilification Is what happened when I read your comment.

  63. Joy

    Floccinaucinihilipilification is actually what happened. The previous spelling was incorrect.

  64. Dear everyone,

    Joy would like you to know that she has an impressive vocabulary, and also to please register that – I had to look up her SAT word – she is unimpressed with any criticisms of her sophomoric attempts at language humor adn so gets the last word. I move that we all so recognize.

  65. Max

    Mike Pauwels says:
    28 May 2009 at 10:38 am

    I HATE hearing “That’s a good question.” as a opening response to what is too often a stupid question. Is the answerer patronizing his questioner or simply buying time to craft a suitable answer?

    I can’t stand that either. I listen to a lot of talk radio, my own term for that opening statement, is “blow jobbing the question”… You make the person feel good before you baffle them with a circular non answer. Politicians are great at it.
    The words I hate hearing are “celebrate” and “vibrant”. When those words are used, you know its usually leftist dribble.
    When city politicians want to do something silly with tax dollars, they defend the spending by saying they are creating a vibrant community. What is a vibrant community, and how do you quantify a communities vibrancy, is there a meter they we do not know about?
    Or we should celebrate our differences together, how, we don’t like the same things, thats what makes us different…

  66. PaddikJ

    Ooooooh, I just love word snobbism!

    University of Colorado’s wild-man polymath John Greenway was known to get physically dangerous over certain usages. He claimed that ‘utilize’ should be reserved for the using of something in an unusual way, or for other than its intended purpose, as in, “The belicose professor utilized an eraser as a missle against a student who mis-used utilize.”

    But my favorite dis of an ugly neologism was by the late Isaac Asimov, who when asked to comment on ‘affordables’ – as in “the affordables of skilled tradesmen in times of prosperity” – issued the summary judgement, “I have negatived its advisables.”

    Last but far from least – overly prepositional constructions. American english in particular is awash in prepositions, although they lately seems to be infecting British prose as well. Repel them!

    We’re going to meet up at the park later.

    She came up with a rilly unique solution.

    It’s a tough problem, but we’re going to work it out.


  67. Joy

    I know a few long numbers too, I’d like that taken into consideration.

    Seriously, I am sorry if my sense of humour is unsophisticated intellectually. With your permission, I’d like to continue with my own rationale for my hatred of Zeds and ‘ization’ of hospitals. Please don’t confuse my disdain of the American word for disdain of American people. I hoped that was clear enough. When I floccinaucinihilipilificated it was with respect to the morphemes comment and not a comment about you. I’m quite sure we wouldn’t recognise each other’s personalities if our paths ever crossed.

  68. PaddikJ


    Josh just has a jocose impediment; pay him no heed. I didn’t expect you to take my bait, but I’m rilly surprised he didn’t.

    FWIW, I share your disdain for “-izations” (unless, of course, they’re done in the British manner, “-isations”).

    Words do morph, but not always nicely. It’s perfectly OK to turn up your nose when they turn repellant.

  69. Joy

    PaddikJ, you’re a gentleman.

  70. Denise

    If Harry G. is correct and Part II will be “Phrases That I Hate”, please add the following cringe-inducing phrases: “low-hanging fruit”, “cherry picking” and “the laboring oar”. At the Fortune 15 corporation where I recently worked, (Fortune Any-Number itself being annoying) these were as overused as “at the end of the day” and “paradigm”.

  71. Briggs

    Amen, Sister Denise. Thanks.

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