Friday, December 18, 2009

No munching, please.

Words that you don’t use in real life, so you shouldn’t in your writing either:

1. Youth, as a noun. My least favorite of all.
2. Probe, as a verb. Dispensation for headlines.
3. Aid as a verb. Again, headline dispensation.
4. Author as a verb. 
4. Any form of munch, except in zoo animal storiesStudents are always “munching hot dogs in the cafeteria” or something, and can you even munch something that is not crunchy?
5. Shopkeeper and merchant.
6. Tony as an adjective and, come to think of it, well-manicured. I am not talking about fingernails.

Other suggestions? Some people hate the word educators, and I totally get their point, but what other word comprises both teachers and administrators?


  1. What if I do use some fo these in real life?

    Moreover, "educator" includes a lot more than than teachers and administrators. Aides, coaches, specialists of all sorts. Guidance counselors.

    And what about text book writers? What about curriculum developers?

    And so on and so on.

  2. "Rigorous curriculum" and "excellence in education" make my ears bleed. Can you make it stop?? :]

  3. Facebook friends have added some great ones: coffers, hammered out, won handily, underscores, garnered, oil-rich, touted, burgeoning, drawing fire and vie.

  4. I'm so glad someone else hates "youths" as a noun! I have used it exactly once in my career, and I practically gagged while typing it. A related suggestion for your list: youngsters.

  5. "Rigorous college-prep," usually used for charter schools (any charter school, no matter how low-performing, seems to merit this compound adjective in the eyes of some unfortunate reporters).

  6. And this is totally off-topic but seasonal: When I was a working newspaper copy editor I had a secret plan to electrocute with a string of twinkling ice lights any colleague who used "Yes, Virginia" or " 'Tis the season" in copy or a headline, unless it was in a savagely ironic context.