Posted by: Michelle Mitton | July 10, 2008

Words I Hate–Okay Make That ‘Intensely Dislike’

Words I HateEveryone has their little pet peeves of words they can’t stand–and of course there are always the unspeakables that I wouldn’t dream of printing here which go without saying–but is it just me or does it seem that every time you turn around there’s an old word being used in a new way? And it’s never in a way that contributes to the language, it’s usually redundant, political or grammatically ridiculous.

Here’s a few of the ones that make me shudder–and I’d love to hear your own because there were a couple that I couldn’t remember but were right there on the tip of my tongue. Some new words that I’d just started hearing in a new fangled way that made me want to say “Did I just hear what I thought I heard?” Maybe one of you will suggest it here and put my mind at peace.

1. “Awesome.” Let’s start with one that’s been holding on since 1982. Seems to me that this word means “awe-inspiring” but has deteriorated into meaning “ultra cool.” But for some reason while “cool” is juvenile and slangy it sounds acceptable to me while any time I hear an adult say “awesome!” I want to shake them by the shoulders and say “You sound like you’re still watching Sean Penn in Fast Times at Ridgemont! Grow up!” It’s on a par with “totally radical” (or worse yet) “totally tubular!” in my book.

2. “Moist.” No particular reason but I don’t like this word. I guess it’s because “moist” makes me think of fungal growth and mold and uncomfortable body odors–none of them good. You could argue that moist is what a good cake should be but unfortunately “moist” hasn’t been reserved for Duncan Hines and crops up all over the place. I avoid it–the word that is, not the cake.

3. “Hate crime.” Because other crimes are full of love and respect. This phrase irritates me because it makes it sound as if crime based on bigotry, prejudice and racism are worse than those based on corruption, revenge, selfishness and greed or that hate is only involved in crime when there’s differences in skin color. Seems to be a political move to classify intolerance as the worst offense a person can commit (though it’s bad–don’t get me wrong) are we really trying to rank emotions here folks or can we just say that all crime comes from hate in one form or another? I don’t care if you believe that O.J. really loved Nicole what he did was just as hateful as if he’d done it because she was white.

3. “Disrespect.” Not the noun, the verb. This used to be a word relegated to the likes of Run DMC and their “posse” (another little word that could have made the list but missed the cuts), I didn’t like it then but I tolerated it because it was kind of a niche word but when it crossed over into main stream I balked. To hear a politician at the podium say “They’ve disrepected America” makes me think “Oh no sir, I think that silly sentence has done plenty right there on its own!” Don’t get me started on “dissed” which sounds sillier still and too close to the one with the “p” which I cannot tolerate.

4. “Sucks.” Which reminds me . . . I said I wouldn’t list unmentionable words here and they’re so bad it’s not worth the effort but I’ve got to say that suck/sucks/sucking/sucketh is about the worst word to enter mainstream language in “like” forever. I hear all sorts of people using it, it makes it into kids’ movies, I hear people at church say it and every time it makes me want to shiver and say, “Do you even realize where that comes from?” Not from nursing babies, I’ll say that much, and if you’re clueless about what I’m talking about just stop and think. Yea, that’s right. It’s that horrible. I can’t stand this one and wish people wouldn’t just pick it up without a thought as to what it really means.

You could argue that no one really means that when they say it but does that even matter? That’s where it came from and there are so many better words that would be just as effective in getting the point across. Like “stinks,” “reeks” or even “fellate” or “imbibe.” Okay I’m kidding with those last two. I don’t think they’re really going to catch on. Too bad–“Fellate” sounds pretty nasty doesn’t it?

5. “Hoodie.” Yes it’s a hooded sweatshirt or sweater but that doesn’t mean I have to like this ridiculous word. I will never wear a hoodie. I may wear a hooded sweater but never a hoodie. I’d feel like I was seven or something. I’d wear a skort first.

6. “Conversate.” Have you heard someone say this because it’s kind of funny when they do. I want to say, “Wait, wait–let me hear you say that again!” But then that’s kind of rude I suppose. And since I’m the one saying “like” every other word (and I’ve tried to stop it, like, a million times really I have but the whole stupid thing is too thoroughly engraved into my synapses to delete now) that I suppose I have absolutely no moral ground whatsoever to stand on. But still, if you have the good fortune to “conversate” with someone and hear this fab word come up you’re in for a treat.

7. “Transparent.” I just noticed this one popping up everywhere until suddenly everyone wants to be transparent. Like we’re talking Casper the Friendly Ghost here or something. Am I missing something because since when does “transparent” mean “honest”? It would be interesting to try to analyze why certain words generate new meanings and I’ve wondered if this is popular because if “transparent” means “honest” then someone who’s dishonest suddenly is only “opaque.” Opaque doesn’t sound nearly as objectionable as dishonest now does it? Some of my favorite things are opaque–my jeans, my teeth, my minivan, donuts. Can’t be that bad.

8. “Bling.” Ugh ugh ugh. And one more “ugh” for good measure–UGH! I wish I could donate to a campaign that would strike this word from the language. Strike it down quick! Am I wrong or does “bling” refer to gangsta rapper-style jewelry? That’s what I thought it meant but I heard it creeping up everywhere until every time I hear it it’s like I’m seeing visions of Tupak Shakur floating in front of my eyes. Make it go away!

9. “Organic.” I still remember the first time I ever heard this word used in anything but the strictest biological sense. I didn’t get it for a minute and I had to do this quick little flow chart in my brain that went something like, “Wait a minute–he keeps using that word. I do not think it means what he thinks it means. They’re selling organic vegetables? I’m pretty sure that yes, they are carbon-based, judging from the green leaves and healthy color but somehow they seem to think that this is noteworthy. Is there more to being carbon-based than I’d previously thought? It is the latest trend? I mean I’m organic myself, last time I checked, and I never knew this was supposed to be a good thing.”

Then I heard it transfer over until it didn’t merely mean “produced without pesticides” but included anything that springs from the earth spontaneously to a metaphor for unhibitied, unchecked development. As in “my blog has grown organically.” Because letting my writing run around like some free-range chicken is better than laboring tirelessly over the editing and revising process, pruning and cutting back and grafting and weeding with careful control and precision. Have we thought that metaphor through yet? Yes, check me into the mental ward now folks because it gets my dander up every time I hear it.

10. “Sustainability.” Took me a while to discover what they wanted me to think this word means and I’m still not sure I have it down but it grates nearly as bad as organic. Well, probably worse because it’s newer and I haven’t had as much time to become dulled to the pain. As best I can discover sustainability means not doing anything that might make environmental groups upset. As in Conoco Phillips saying (and I’m just making this up here): “We’re going to work to promote sustainability.” That just means they’re going to mind their Ps and Qs and make darn sure their attornies and press agents are working double time to keep the watch groups happy. They won’t do anything that could be filmed to look like it’s taking something out of the ground or burning something that might have been taken out of the ground or putting something into someone’s car that might have once been in the ground.

No wait, I still don’t get it–what does sustainability mean?

11. “Literally.” Could be stricken entirely from the English language and no one would ever be the wiser. Literally.

12. “Proactive.” And right up there with “proactive” I would add “impacted.” I feel somewhat rotten about including proactive on my list because I used to work for dear Mr. Stephen R. Covey, the man who invented the word in his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and who really is quite a nice man. More specifically I worked for his company, Covey Leadership Center, and the only time I saw the Great Covey himself was when I was 10 months pregnant with Grace and was supposed to go to the company Christmas party but I cried for two hours before we left because my ankles were so swollen the only shoes I could wear were my tennis shoes. I can’t remember what I did about the shoes–I can’t imagine that I actually wore tennis shoes to the fancy party but then again I couldn’t really see my ankles all that well so maybe I’ve just blotted the memory out.

But I digress. “Proactive” and “impacted” mean absolutely nothing. Unless you’re a tooth and then you have my permission to be impacted otherwise I refuse to allow any impact to occur in the past tense. Forget “proactive” and just stick with active. It’s kind of like saying “110%” when there’s no such thing–I think when people say “proactive” they want to lead you to believe they’re so darn active that they beat you to the punch and are active before you even think you need someone who’s active. I prefer to activate upon necessity.

13. And finally? “Ghetto,” “dope” and “dawg“–and any other inner city lingo that I dislike so much. I don’t understand why someone would want to use words that intentionally associate them with drugs, crime and gangs. When did this become popular? Even Randy Jackson should be enjoined from ever using any of these words again. Of course that’s coming from a woman who grew up saying “bad” when she meant “good.” What do I know?

I guess if I don’t like current slang I could always wait around for it to change. A couple weeks ago I was with some teens and they used the word “tight” to refer to someone. Last time I heard the word “tight” used in a way that didn’t refer to tension it wasn’t a very complimentary thing to say–as in “Man! My teacher is so tight! She gave us another pop quiz!” But it seemed like my knowledge of the slang wasn’t enough to carry me through this conversation and I had to stop them and say, “You said she was ‘tight?’ Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”

At which point the whole group stopped, looked at me with this “What’s up with granny here?” look then said, “Yea, it’s a good thing” before going on from there. Who knew?

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