4 Words I Don’t Like

Recently I was asked if there were any words I don’t like. Four words came to mind.

#1 Google (verb form, to search)

You will never hear me say “Google it”. Google does not equal search. It is one component of search, but not the only one. It is my default search engine at home, but I don’t start every search there. I search books on Amazon, movies on IMDB, history on Wikipedia, breaking news on Twitter, photos on Flickr and friends on Facebook. I could probably rattle off 20 more examples where I don’t start my search on Google.

I use the word search, because it has a broader and more accurate meaning than the verb form of Google. Mark Cuban did a good post on the change in search.

#2 Ink (verb form, business use)

I think it was the late 1990s when the business news started to use ink as a verb meaning “to sign”. It wasn’t good enough that Corporation X signed an agreement with Corporation Y. Now they had to ink a deal. I always found that odd and never cared for the word. Inked should be reserved for tattoo artists. I think using inked in business news is losing popularity.

#3 Busy

The word busy is not only overused when applied to most individuals, but it is also celebrated. People praise those that are always busy as if it were always a good thing. To quote Tim Ferriss:

Being busy is a form of laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.

And if it is used repeatedly as an excuse for not engaging in social relationships, then it can come off as insulting.


Busy by thesaltr

#4 Befriend

I don’t care for the word befriend, because it sounds sinister. Let me explain. The prefix “be” on a word often means “make”. It is the actions of one party to another. A person can belittle, berate or behead another person without their compliance. Yet the act of becoming friends can’t be thrust upon another. I can’t make you my friend. We collectively can become friends. I can try and befriend you, but there must be compliance. And because I know that I can’t force friendship, I will instead use the longer phrase “we became friends” because it sounds more accurate.

Other Words?

Did I make the case for any of my four words? Do you have any words you’d like to add to the dislike list?

UPDATE: My least favorite is actually “you should”. Did an entire post on that.


Add yours

  1. Inking deals arose in the entertainment industry, and then seems to have moved through sports into more general use. The earliest example in the OED is from “Variety.” I guess journalists still like to think they are Damon Runyon.

    Interesting that befriend has a sinister connotation for you. Its original meaning was to treat like a friend, I.e., to help or assist, or sponsor. It didn’t mean to create a friendship or relationship.

  2. @Mark – Thanks for the befriend info.

    I probably should have phrased that “potentially” sinister. Meaning if the “be” is “to make” and there is an ulterior motive to the action then befriend could be sinister? Of source this my personal thing. It just never sounded right to my ears.

    Also, thanks for sharing the origins of “inked”.

  3. The word “hipster”.
    – I have used this word because I thought it was a cute way to describe a person or a certain place i.e. Hipster joint, but now I think its a bit belittling to skinny dudes with beards, unmatched socks and one gear bicycles. Who am I to judge really?

  4. @Gokhan – That is funny. I have a theory about hipster facial hair. Without it their bodies would not be distinguishable from a pre-puberty female. 🙂

  5. I’m with you on busy – that word is completely overused and often just used as an excuse.

    I’m going to add the word “literally.” Because at least with the 20’s and younger generations it almost never used in the right context. People will have slow service at a restaurant and will “literally be about to starve to death.”

  6. Misuse of “literally” is at least a couple of generations old, literally. People were railing against it when I was a kid.

    I used to read newspaper (!) columns about language by William Safire and others. One columnist railed against the verb “militate against” as an abomination. I stopped reading him when I found Jane Austen used it in a novel. If Austen wrote it, it’s English!

  7. MAS: You want my opinion on this ? Waste of a good rant.
    The beauty of the English language is that is flexible, always changing, and has many ways of conveying meaning. You just have to keep up with what words mean now, not what they meant in Elizabethan times. If you don’t like “ink” no prob. don’t use it. Lawyers like to use the word “execute” to mean sign. I dislike that word so use sign instead. If you’re in show biz “ink” is great. We all know what it means and if you understand what’s being communicated where’s the prob? We all know what googling something means and if Cuban wants to spend some of his limited time on earth worrying about whether Google can be relied on just because it is not the fastest…fine with me.

  8. MAS,
    Nice change of pace post.
    It made me think of the humor reference site “TL:DR Wikipedia,” which defines Google as “an Internet search engine used to find Wikipedia articles instead of just going directly to Wikipedia to find them.”

  9. Tweet, twerk, and hashtag are pretty abhorrent (both as words and as concepts). I’m also very tired of up-speak (intonation) and the use of the phrase “at the end of the day.”

  10. Rita, I’m with you. I’d like to know what people did before they started “going forward…”

  11. Cheers, Mike!

  12. This post actually inspired me to make a video on my YouTube channel 🙂 I’d be honored if you all would check it out!


  13. @Becca – Good job. I prefer “need to” over “have to”. Your video actually reminded me of my least favorite two word combo ever that somehow I didn’t recall when I put this post together. That is “you should”. Worthy of its own post. I sub’d to your channel.

  14. J. Scott Shipman

    Sep 19, 2014 — 10:28 am

    The ubiquity of the word “awesome” — used not unlike “excellent” in the late 80’s, the word has become meaningless.

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