Words ... good, bad and ugly

Forbidden words

When writing, use specific words and terms. Consider the following words and terms forbidden (these are only a few of the many overused, yet weak, terms). They tell a reader — including your customers or clients — nothing, except that your vocabulary is limited.

Breathtaking
Dazzling
Fabulous

State-of-the-art
Striking
Stunning

You don’t want to alienate customers or clients, so keep the words you use in your company’s memos, pamphlets, advertising, etc. simple. Below are some bad — and good — words.


Bad                                            Good

  • airlifted                                      flown
  • ameliorate                                  improve
  • approximately                             about
  • commence                                  begin, start
  • conundrum                                 dilemma
  • copious or numerous                   many
  • docent                                       guide
  • due to the fact that                     because
  • enumerate                                  list
  • erroneous                                   wrong
  • finalize                                       finish, complete
  • prioritize                                    rank (as in a list)
  • pragmatic                                   practical
  • purchase                                    buy
  • spearheaded                               led
  • ubiquitous                                  common
  • utilize                                         use
  • viable option                               choice

 

Ugly words and their replacements

Of course, you should never use terms such as “messed up” or “goofed up” (as in “made a mistake”), “went missing” (as in “disappeared”), “diss” (as in “criticize”), “haggle” (as in “negotiate”), “hassle” (as in “bother”) or “pushy” (as in “assertive”).

 

More bad words/terms and their replacements

Don’t say: Say instead:
addressees you
assist/assistance aid/help
commence begin/start
implement carry out/start/do
in accordance with by/following/per/under
in order to to
in the amount of for
in the event that if
it is requested that please (or omit this term completely)
promulgate issue/publish
this institution
us/we
utilize/utilization use