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The Little Blog of Words I Hate


A specifically hateful use of this word has infested the world of sports journalism, as exemplified by this story in The Guardian which contains the sentence: “Tony Mowbray, the Celtic manager, has admitted he is enjoying the title race.”

Now, in my experience, people are rarely forced to “admit” to enjoying things, unless it’s your maths teacher revealing a secret affection for Black Sabbath, or a grandmother at a wedding who’s finally been cajoled into getting up and dancing before sitting back down with a flushed and slightly awkward look on her face.

The Tony Mowbray example, on the other hand, perfectly encapsulates the way “admitted” has become a synonym for “said” in the minds of sportswriters desparately trying to turn the base bullshit of football managers’ utterances into gold. Unless, of course, Mowbray was worn down by months of persistent questioning by razor-sharp hacks until he finally crumbled: “All right, lads, I’m sorry for trying to pull one on you. I know I’ve been saying for months that I loathe being a manager, earning big money and the whole business of winning football matches, but since you press me on the issue I’ll come clean and admit that sometimes I actually quite like it. And I would have got away with it, too, if it weren’t for you pesky kids.”

This is a register of words I hate. Or to be more accurate, words that are used in a hateful manner. Very few words deserve to be hated for themselves; in fact, many of those listed here are essentially harmless but have been kidnapped, hijacked, waterboarded, neutered and turned into meaningless zombie words to serve the dark purposes of politics and advertising. So what this really is is a plea to rescue those words that have fallen in with the wrong crowd and reclaim their true meaning before it’s too late and our language succumbs to a lexical malaise.

Check back every Monday morning for a new entry.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Guthro Tull permalink
    January 11, 2010 8:21pm

    I loathe the phrase “common sense” because I am ultimately a bit of a misanthrope with scant regard for the smoothed-out, unreasoned beliefs of the majority at any point in time. And therefore if the words represent the logic of the majority you can stick them up your hoop.
    Then again, Phil Miller is vexed by the phrase “the likes of”.
    This country …

  2. Pablo Honey permalink
    January 12, 2010 4:44pm

    Nicely argued, and I broadly agree with everything you have said here. I was told many, many times growing up that I had brains, but no common sense, and, like you, felt there was clearly something amiss with me, that there was a rock solid way of seeing things that nature refused to give me access to.

  3. September 10, 2011 1:23pm

    I’m with you on the use of ‘admitted’. Also hate ‘assumably’ because it infers a lack of thought and, as a word, sounds bubbly. Ditto presumably, which is just the pompous big sib of ‘assumably’.

  4. freshwordswriter permalink
    October 10, 2011 3:28pm

    The flagrant mis-use of the word “impact” drives me nuts.

  5. September 29, 2012 1:30pm

    I’m really enjoying your words but this is my favourite so far. I think because it’s exactly what you say – the way it is used to imply something that isn’t true. Ugh. Now wash your hands.

  6. September 29, 2012 7:45pm

    All too often, media’s use of the word ‘admitted’ is nothing more than an [obvious to anyone with a little ‘common sense’] attempt to imply guilt.


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