Thursday, 8 January 2009


Posted by speedygeoff on Thursday, January 08, 2009 with 16 comments
Ten misused words to make me cringe, wince, and whinge.
(1) Literally. Most often used when its exact opposite, “figuratively”, is what is meant. “He runs at literally 100 kilometres per hour”. No he doesn’t!

(2) Irregardless. There is no such word. “People use it, irregardless”. A woeful mix of “irrespective” and “regardless”

(3) Absolutely, basically, actually, exactly, really etc. Used to be absolutes, but are just noise words now. Makes we want to ask, “really?”

(4) 110%, and the like, when used to mean “100%”. If someone tells me about a “140% effort” someone has put in, I will disregard anything else they may have told me before or since.

(5) Wrong apostrophes, its for it’s, it’s for its, misuse of apostrophes generally. Think before you write! I won’t ever spend good money on fruit advertised as “orange’s”.

(6) Unique, when qualified. I am not “quite unique”, Either I am unique or I am not.

(7) Decimate. Whenever a news report says that a population was decimated, I think “So exactly one out of ten was destroyed? I wonder how they managed that?”

(8) Rookie. I suppose it’s not strictly a misuse, but I find myself saying things like, “how does a novice American basketball player come to be playing for an Australian footy team?” It is a word so foreign to our culture. Yes there are other US words that annoy me, but none as much as this.

(9) “Athelete” for Athlete. Come to think of it, “Athlete” for player of any sport, “Marathon” for any distance, etc.

(10) New Millennium for year 2000 and on. For the information of the mathematically challenged, which seems to cover all journalists and all politicians, it was 2001. And now in 2009, it is the 9th year of the third millennium. There are other hysterically wrong mathematical ideas, but this one annoys me the most..

I am sure there are one or two others, Clichés and worn out phrases aside, what other words are genuinely misused these days?

And it goes without saying...

"Awe" is amazement verging on fear. The word has been hijacked to mean everything and nothing...

It seems I am swimming against the grain, opposing words and figures of speech which are in common usage. I feel as if language is dumbing down too much, and would like to challenge people to become more creative and constructive. But it's a tough cookie to crack.


  1. I think "totally" is another one of those word's that rookie speaker's enjoy saying irregardles's of the notion that it literally decimate's there brain cell's with each u'se.

    Wow, that paragraph annoyed me moe than I thought it would. :)

  2. Awesome Cassandra! Totally tubular!

    (I am sure Aki will pick up on the TWO Red Dwarf references in the first sentence of this comment!)

  3. I am definitely with you on this one (in face, I think we've already had this conversation, Dad). Another pet hate of mine - making up new words when we've got perfectly good old ones. For example, bouncebackability was added to the dictionary; why not just use the word resilience??

  4. oops, typo, sorry

  5. I haven't lived in Australia for any extended period over the last 20 years and each time I go back you "guys", sound more and more like a Fox TV promo!

    Still, as long as we all can hang on to all our beautiful accents, and the Aussies seem to be doing that although if anything they are sounding more New Zealand thesedays, then a few misused word won't amount to Jack! Geoff.

    If you like accents, like I do, have a look at this.

  6. More New Zealand? Wow, who'd've thunkit. Sure it's not because the place is becoming overrun with Kiwis? :-)

    There's a sign outside my local Toyota dealer that says "Cheap Demo's". When I first saw it, I cringed. Where's the ownership? But then, I figured that it's short for "Demonstrators", so the apostrophe is valid.

    How about their/there/they're? Your/you're?

    You're unique Speedy, just like everybody else. :p

    And I'm awesome! Totally.

  7. I'm number sux - a loud unique athelete - I always put in 1001 percent.

    Thats' literally awesome animated glitter on that Awesome! Spody. Irregardless of what other's may think, I reckon its the best I've seen since the new millennium.

  8. thanx ewen. thanx everyone. Their all good comment's.

  9. Hi speedygeoff

    I agree with your comments. You left one out:


    Now what the heck is that? Obviously confusion between saying "thank you" and giving a "thank-you" but ending up with the most awful rubbish that is sadly gaining acceptance.
    Oh, and don't start me on using semi-colons to commence a list of bullet points...

  10. I was speaking to this guy at athletics today who literally said the word 'decimate' to me!!! Really!!! He was, like, totally a rookie, but, like, he continued on irregardless of my odd facial expression's at the time. He said to me 'the ACT crowd have been decimated by the school holiday's' so I basically replied 'Have they really lost 9 out of 10 of there athletes'?' He must have thought of me to be a bit, like, unique and stuff for saying this but I no, like, he thought I was totally awesome for putting in 110% effort's in all race's today? :p

  11. Reading these posts is like purposely running your fingernails down a blackboard. I don't know how much more I can take!

  12. Hmmm... 1) Literally.

    I refer to your "Big Fat Goose Egg" article - "Amanda literally flogged half the field...". I certainly hope not!

  13. But 'tis something she'd enjoy, to be sure.

  14. Now do I feel the goose or what - you're obviously poking fun at yourself by using at least four of your pet hates in the one article - "Literally", "Absolutely", "Rookie" and "140%" (and also 12 out of 10, or should that be 120%?)

  15. Actually - if you look more closely - I use all eleven of my ten pet hates - and a couple of herrings of indeterminate hue to boot.

  16. I need to look a little more closely - I hadn't even noticed you had (at least) eleven ten pet hates! Those herrings catch me out every time, irregardless of their hue.