Crowdsourced words we abuse, love or simply hate

Crowdsourced words we abuse, love or simply hate


It started as these things so often do as a conversation on a Friday evening. What are the words that you detest so much that they should be eliminated from our language? The Oxford English Dictionary is the ultimate arbiter of words in day-to-day usage. Each year it publishes new words that have crept into our language. Hackerspace, selfie and twerking, among others, have all been included this year.

New words are added annually to the dictionary but it turns out that words are never removed. Instead they remain as a historical record even when they become obsolete or redundant.

We settled on gusset, moist, ooze and puss as words that we would remove from usage if we had the opportunity, on the grounds that they provoke an unpleasant emotional or physical reaction, or are plainly unnecessary.

I announced the list to my Facebook friends and Twitter followers on Saturday morning and asked for comments.

Twitter users are passionate about commuting, the news, popular culture, television, the weather, and as I’ve now discovered, words. Facebook users, it turns out, are similarly enthusiastic about language.

Over the course of the day almost 100 people shared words that we variously abuse, hate and love. It turned out to be a really cracking exercise in crowdsourcing.

In an entirely unscientific exercise here are the words that were repeated again and again

Words we abuse guru takeaway or takeaways leverage literally strategy or strategic

Words we love fabulous panache samphire serendipity unctuous

Word we hate gash discharge minge portion phlegm

We have no tolerance for words that are mangled from others: chillax, edutainment, and mumtrepreneur were all cited as words that people would see eliminated.

Some words are overused to the point of being knackered and worn out. Variations on the themes of amazing, awesome, engagement and like, were all raised.

And then there’s the huge community on the Internet that worries itself with grammar. This wasn’t the topic of conversation but inevitably it was raised. Favourite errors include: it and it’s; invite and invitation; and were and where.

Oddly, flange and moist were cited as words that are equally liked and loathed.

Here’s an insight. The words that we love and the words we hate, are almost all related to emotional or physical experiences.

My guess is that our affection for words is entirely subjective and almost certainly based on our personal experiences. It would make an excellent topic for a research programme, assuming that it hasn’t been explore already.

Thanks to everyone that shared their views. If I learnt anything it’s that there’s a great crowd on Facebook and Twitter on Saturday.

Back to school public relations reading list

Back to school public relations reading list

Book review: Writing on the Wall by Tom Standage

Book review: Writing on the Wall by Tom Standage