Jeremy Fletcher's Blog

Words and phrases people should stop using


…and what they should say instead.

Been away from the ether for a while. Time to ease back in with some light relief.

I used to be an English teacher, and I love playing with language. Words do change, but it saddens me when some get so over-used that they fail to mean anything anymore. I’m not really this bitter, and of course I don’t shout at the radio. But just writing them down makes me feel better. Shout back at me if you want. Or add your own. I’m sure there are more of these

Iconic. Just say ‘special’, or ‘distinctive’. But not ‘unique’ (see below)

(Steep) learning curve. Just say you ‘have a lot to learn’.

Going forward. Just say ‘the future’, or ‘from now on’.

Passionate (as in ‘I am passionate about providing customer service’). ‘Committed’ will do fine.

Overestimate/Underestimate. Or if you do, get it right. They aren’t interchangeable.

(At the beginning of an answer) So. Just don’t use it.

(At the beginning of an answer) I think. Of course you do. That’s why you are about to say what you are about to say.

Imply, when you mean infer. And infer when you mean imply.

Disconnect (as a noun). Don’t know why. It just annoys me.

Mercury (for temperature – a favourite in newspaper weather reporting). Just say ‘temperature’. By the way, why does cold always ‘snap’ and heat always ‘wave’?

Bellweather. Just say barometer. Or indicator. Or predictor.

Multitask. OK, you can do more than one thing at once. Don’t dignify it with jargon.

One hundred and ten percent. Just say ‘totally committed’. Or ‘completely’.

Absolutely. When you mean ‘yes’, or ‘I agree’.

Unique. When you mean ‘special’ or ‘distinctive’. Something isn’t ‘quite unique’.

Free, gratis and for nothing. What’s that about?

Community. When you mean ‘people who are’ or ‘people who like’


That is all. Come to think of it, that’s a phrase to stop using too. Oh dear.