“WHOEVER CAME UP WITH ‘STICKS AND STONES MAY BREAK MY BONES, BUT WORDS CAN NEVER HURT ME’ PROBABLY WAS NEVER HIT WITH A DICTIONARY”
Sometimes I like to imagine the Grammar Police are real and they’re chasing you with handcuffs and a fully-charged taser. Everywhere we look today, people are correcting each other’s grammar. It’s a fantastic train wreck all over the internet, and brings me hours of joy. I love how the internet has improved people’s grammar far more than any English teacher has. If you write “your” instead of “you’re” in English class, all you get is a red mark. Mess up on the internet, and may God have mercy on your soul. And let’s face it, we’re all in fear of that instance on Twitter when you finish writing a tweet, and have -1 characters left, and have to determine which grammar crime to commit.
That being said, there is a far more urgent and pressing linguistic matter that we should all be focused on; and that, my friends, is the overuse of certain words and phrases that should never be uttered again for as long as we live. Ever.
Now, I’m not claiming to be a cunning linguist (that means “good with words”), but I did pass several English courses in high school, and I’m fairly certain most of my classmates did too (although the verdict is still out on some of them actually LEARNING anything). I don’t think it’s too much to ask for us all to step up our vocabulary, especially where the words and phrases I’ll address come to mind. There is a thesaurus online, and I’m positive there is a thesaurus app out there for your smart phone. It’s not just a dinosaur that knows a lot of words…use it!
Here are some words and phrases we need to address immediately:
Literally – The definition of literally is actually, verbatum, or to the letter. This is something that has actually occurred, not figuratively. So when you ate that entire pizza and your stomach literally felt like it burst, you should have called 911, because you’ve got a bloody mess on your hands. If “literally” were as “literal” as everyone “literally” uses it, then a full 2/3rds of my friends would have “literally” died laughing, and I’d be attending a lot of “literal” funerals. We should literally put this word to rest.
Awesome – this word is one I’ve been guilty of for quite awhile, and I am kicking myself over. Awesome is defined as “extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear”. I get it…that new track from your favorite band is amazing, incredible, sonorously pleasing as it were…but awesome? Maybe in the fact that these 30 year old men are wearing skinny jeans and dancing around like it’s the Nutcracker Ballet while they’re singing about their latest ex-girlfriend inspires apprehension and fear (as well as the urge to “literally” vomit)…then yes. Awesome has got to go!
Cute – ladies, this one’s for you. Babies, cute. Puppies, cute. I’ll even give you that pictures from the night he proposed might be cute. But when you are looking at shower curtains? Those are specifically meant to keep water from spraying all over my bathroom as I allow warm water to jet stream over my fat and naked body in a large porcelain pit. “Cute” is not the word, here. “Useful”, “aesthetically pleasing”, even “colorful” could suffice. But when with the same word you praise your toddler’s adorable gurgling, and then the running shoes you got for half price at Payless, I assume that you either think WAY too much of your shoes, or that your child has become a lot like house slippers…
Irregardless – This is not a word. If it was a word, it would mean the opposite of what you’re using it for. Don’t be that guy.
Swag – If you knew the actual definitions of the word swag, then I’m fairly sure you’d stop using it. Obviously it’s short for “swagger”, which is a haughty, arrogant appearance that exemplifies importance and a “cooler than you” attitude. But the word “swag” is defined a couple of ways. Here it is from Webster himself:
noun: swag; plural noun: swags
an ornamental festoon of flowers, fruit, and greenery.
“ribbon-tied swags of flowers”
a carved or painted representation of an ornamental festoon of flowers or fruit.
“fine plaster swags”
a curtain or piece of fabric fastened so as to hang in a drooping curve.
money or goods taken by a thief or burglar.
“their homes offer tempting swag for burglars”
products given away free, typically for promotional purposes.
“local studios provide swag, spirits, and food”
marijuana, typically of a low grade.
“prices range from $40 a 10-seed packet for some Jamaican swag to $345 per pack for something tastier”
a traveler’s or miner’s bundle of personal belongings.
a large number, amount, or variety.
“the seller left a swag of unpaid bills”
verb: swag; 3rd person present: swags; past tense: swagged; past participle:swagged; gerund or present participle: swagging
arrange in or decorate with a swag or swags of fabric.
“swag the fabric gracefully over the curtain tie-backs”
travel with one’s personal belongings in a bundle.
“swagging it in Queensland”
“the crinkly old hide swags here and there”
sway from side to side.
“the stout chief sat swagging from one side of the carriage to the other”
So either you’re a table decoration, you’re carrying luggage (sounds like a fat joke to me), or your “crinkly old hide sways from side to side”. Beautiful.
“I don’t give a rat’s a$$” – You don’t give a rat’s backside about what? Linguistic originality? Or did you think this entire conversation was gearing up for me to ask you whether you could spare a rodent sphincter?
“I could care less” – Again, this means the opposite of what I think you’re trying to say. By saying you could care less, you are saying that you have at least enough care to warrant a measurement. I believe you meant to say “I couldn’t care less”, as in “I couldn’t care less that I sound like an idiot every time I misuse this phrase.”
“Could of” – This is my wife’s pet peeve. You should say “could HAVE”, as in “I could have paid more attention in English class, but instead I played euchre, and now I sound like a tool.” Also works with “Should have”.
YOLO – Before Drake came around, did you honestly think you lived more than once? And while we’re on the subject, shouldn’t this be used more for playing it safe, like “Looking both ways before crossing the street. #yolo” This phrase should be killed to prove its own point.
Are there other words and phrases that you’re tired of hearing? Let me know in the comments. Do you think that this was helpful in helping you to improve your vocabulary? Let me know in the comments. Do you disagree with any of these? Then you’re wrong.
Until next time,