Words to Retire in 2013

Dec 13, 2012 Samantha McGarry

I love words. I’ve always been strangely attracted to them. I studied literature and foreign languages, semantics and etymology, drama and media, fascinated by the roots, meanings, power and influence of the spoken and written word. Fast-forward a couple of decades and words are at the very core of my profession in PR. Just as it is for fellow PR and marketing executives, bloggers and journalists, words are the currency of our careers.

One of my pet peeves is laziness in writing: when people select an easy word instead of searching for a more potent, concise or elegant choice. At the same time, I’m also a fan of plain language, saying something as it really is rather than forcing words into impersonal or clumsy corporate speak. After all, we’re just humans talking to humans, right? On that point, can we all promise to try a little harder next year—please?

After consulting with several reporters, friends in PR and Twitter followers, as well as reading the contributions to this recent WBUR Here and Now segment, the following are InkHouse’s words for the chopping block for 2013. It is worth noting that there are some repeat offenders that were on the list of words to retire in 2012—especially words commonly used in press releases. Why did we choose these words? Well, because they are unimaginative or impersonal, or overused and clichéd.

Repeat offenders

  • Leverage
  • End-to-end
  • End-user
  • Seamless
  • Integrated
  • Value-added
  • Next-generation

Tech/marketing buzzwords that have jumped the shark

  • Coopetition
  • Synergy
  • Ideate
  • Productize
  • SoMoLo
  • Automagically
  • Freemium
  • At the intersection of …

Pop culture and hashtag overload (especially on Facebook and Twitter)

  • Literally
  • YOLO
  • Fiscal cliff
  • Gangnam
  • This is a thing?
  • Wait, what?
  • Humblebrag
  • You guys
  • Really (with eye roll)
  • Amazeballs
  • Mind.Blown.
  • Crickets
  • Swag
  • Awesomesauce
  • Bro

P.S. If you are looking for more inspiration on words to retire, writing blunders to avoid, how to tell stories and be quotable, and more, check out these great posts.

P.P.S. I will offer a prize to the reader who presents the most viable alternative to the word ‘leverage’ which, to me, is the worst of the worst.

Topics: InkHouse
Samantha McGarry

Samantha is the executive vice president of Story Crafting at Inkhouse. Her curiosity for business and technology - combined with her love of semantics and communication - has translated into a 20+ year career in PR.

Read more from Samantha McGarry

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