Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Monday, February 6, 2012

Words I Hate By Heart

Precious Angel was four and just starting to sound out words. He and I were in the car alone. (That used to happen a lot. Then he got his driver license. I miss it.) Anyway. I pulled up in front of the grocery store and proceeded to free him from all the buckles, locks, and iron bars designed to protect him from my driving. Meanwhile, he was looking around at signs for new words to master.

"Eek, eek, eek," he said hesitantly. "I can't. What's it say, Jean?" I glanced down the way.

I was never one to make this kid belabor a point with, "Come on! You can do it!" He'd already said he couldn't. And he never lacked faith in himself, so that wasn't as issue. Besides, he was four.

"Ekherd's Drugs," I said.

His eyes got big. "That's a bad place!" he said.

I got back in the car and we had a discussion about good drugs versus bad drugs. I even went into how a drug could be good if a doctor said you should have it, but bad if you bought it on a street corner. I don't know if he understood all that at the time, but I can only assume that eventually it sunk in since he's never failed a drug test administered though the athletic department of Decatur High School or refused his allergy medicine.

It's all in the connotation that makes us dislike a word. Language is every changing. Stoned and gay have evolved. You have to be careful with screw and hoe. Probably, Coke has another first meaning in other parts of the country, but here in the south it still means a soft drink—any soft drink. These are society wide changes.

Then there are words we personally hate because of personal connotations.

I have three. They aren't even particularly vulgar words, but I dislike them so much, I will not type two of them here. The other—belly—I dislike only if applied to a human. I don't mind, "I scratched the dog's belly and he went into fits of euphoria."

Unfortunately, I can't keep my mouth shut and I disclosed years ago to my inner circle my hatred for these words. You'd think they would love me enough not to taunt me with them. Especially, if they were willing for me to be godmother to their child, to entrust me to raise him as my own should the need arise.

But no. Godson's Dad has never gotten tired of mocking me. Not in close to twenty-five years. He did it two weeks ago. We were having a serious conversation and right in the middle, he paused and intoned the three hated words. I slapped my hands over my ears—like I always do—and squealed, "No, no, no!" If could stop doing that, he would stop taunting me. But I cannot. I've tried.

What words do you dislike?

27 comments:

  1. Titmouse
    Utilized
    Leveraged
    Author (I know, that's a strange one, but I much prefer "writer.") It has some good hard consonants I can feel in my mouth. "Author" sounds as if someone has food in her mouth and is trying to say "Arthur." So I see food in the mouth.

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  2. ML--I grew up hearing author/authoress, which always seemed a little messy. Some women writers used authoress, some author.

    Writer covers it all. In the end, I always like less messy.

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  3. Matriculate, irregardless (not a word), and totally destroyed (not one word but used together all the time)

    Matriculate has become a favorite of sports announcer's: "He matriculated the ball down the field." Ouch! Matriculate means to go to a school: "He matriculated to Harvard." I want to scream because of the stupidity.

    Irregardless IS NOT A WORD! I have to bite my tongue every time I hear someone say it. Regardless is the proper usage - without regard of something. Example: Regardless of the improper usage of the word, she said "irregardless."

    Destroyed. Local news will say a house was totally destroyed by fire. Either something is destroyed or it isn't. Just drives me crazy.

    I, too, have other words that are not subject to be typed here...

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  4. Decimated. Veering off Jean's course here, I don't object to the word itself, but to how it's used, as in "Fukishima was decimated by the tsunami." Decimated means to reduce by one tenth. Either "destroyed" (without the "totally" attached) or "devastated" are probably what the newscasters meant.

    And what about "totally unique?" Something is unique, or it isn't. There is no degree of uniqueness. A little unique? Partially unique?

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  5. Now, I like matriculate, but I have never heard it used improperly. That would do it.

    I agree with you on the others. Another along those lines that gets under my skin--more unique or most unique. Unique does not have degrees.

    Also, pre reserve. What is that?

    Though I agree and have mended my ways, I admit I used irregardless until about ten years ago. Come to think of it, it was the before mentioned Godson's Dad who pointed out the error of my ways on that score. He points out my mistakes; I point out his. Then I tell him what great parents he and Godson's Mom are. Then he tells me what great godparents The Guy and I are. The we talk about how we are still afraid PA's train could still come off the tracks.

    And it may. But it won't be from saying belly and irregardless.

    And aside--it bothers me no small degree that, in the comments, if there is a way to italicize, I have not found it. When talking about a word as a word, it should be in italics.

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    1. It is the ESPN commentators who use matriculate to the point I want to scream. I even sent them an email but evidently they didn't read it because they continue to use "he matriculated the ball..."

      I have not found how to italicize and I do understand the need to use it when discussing a word. I use the quotation marks because I don't know how else to do it.

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    2. I don't think you can italicize. But you can capitalize :-).

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    3. Jean, I have been using irregardless until this year. The English teacher that corrected me did it so sweetly that it didn't sting one bit. Ok, so maybe I blushed a slightly. Hopefully I am cured now. Also, twice in the same day I heard corrections for redder and wetter. I would like to know an opinion on this, even though I have no intention of switching to "more red" or "more wet" when I teach painting and color theory.

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  6. Linda--We must have been typing about unique at the same time. Does that mean it's going to rain?

    Not that it won't anyway. . . .

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    Replies
    1. I too can't stand unique, because as an editor I find it comes across my desk daily as a generic word used when writers are too lazy to think up a real adjective. E.g. "It is such a unique little shop, selling commemorative plates, bumper stickers and local memorabilia."

      I also can't stand the word "sexy" when applied to anything that doesn't involve, say, David Beckham with his shirt off or something else that implies romance or attraction. "That's a very sexy baby stroller," or "What a sexy computer mouse," just make me look in askance at the speaker.

      I have to use them all the time, but "high end" and particularly "upscale" bother me, mostly because the people who throw around the term "upscale" constantly seem to be aiming to show off. I'm am better about it now that I don't hang out with the legendary Cori any longer.

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    2. Oh, and "hip" or "hipster" as one of my freelancers just reminded me. Overused and no longer define anything specific.

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  7. Good heavens, I hope it doesn't rain for at least the next week. We've started work on an Ark . . .

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  8. "Stupid" as applied to human beings. Actions are different, and may be referred to as stupid, but I think it's a nasty, ugly word to apply to people. The only other one that I can think of now that makes me cringe is really a phrase: going forward. Unfortunately, it's very popular in the legal world.

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    1. Stupid was one of those words I wasn't allowed to use growing up. It didn't take. Good to see you here!

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  9. I am well known for my dislike of the word a$$ when it referring to part of the body. Pantster and I were talking about it just yesterday.

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    1. I've been writing. Farron said a$$, a$$, a$$. He talked about Ambree's a$$, Tylden's a$$, and Thorburn's a$$. He put his hand on Dariana's a$$. He told Caldar he was going to whip his a$$ if he didn't stay in the bed. He DID whip your boy Bergen's a$$ for playing that flute.

      He got a tunic with a$$ embroidered on it.

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  10. I can't think of any words except 'usedtacould'. Jeff Foxworthy joked about it's usage in the south. When I moved south 15 yrs ago I heard it in passing for the first time and nearly keeled over with laughter. Surprising how often that jumbled mess of words is spoken around here. We are in the south after all. ;)

    Then terms for rain leave me scratching my head. I grew up with "it's raining cats and dogs''. I hear "it come a flood" or "it come a gully-washer". Lol!

    I hate it when newscasters announce someone has been "killed dead". Huh?

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    1. And I do know the difference between it's and its. Darned iPhone!!!!!!

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    2. Oh, Kathy. I say "used to could". Also "might could". I don't write it, though I have some characters who would say it.

      "Shot dead". That's another one.

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  11. Moist, crevice, blouse, ointment. These are the top four offenders not only for me, but for all of my travel buddies as well. Cruel voice-mails circulate where we say the (slightly raunchy) sentence "She put the moist ointment in the crevice of her blouse." and then hang up.

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    1. Clair--I am laughing so hard. That does provoke a steamy greasy image.

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  12. Gwen--I agree about sexy. ESPN is always going on about this sexy quarterback or that sexy--well, mostly the qb. But they are not talking about real sex appeal so I don't really know what they want. A sexy stroller is just icky.

    I can see why you get tired of "upscale" and "high end", considering what you write/edit, but they are great "economy" words in descriptive fiction writing. Beverly Barton once told me that, unless it matters to the plot or the character development, it is enough to say the furnishings are upscale or the room looked like something out of Southern Accents. I remember that every time I want to go into painful detail about the the bed, the sofa, the lamp, the window treatments, the sheets, the dust floating in the air--you get the picture.

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    Replies
    1. Yes but if you are writing decorating porn, I'll sign up to read it.

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  13. I'm with Stephanie on the word a$$, though for a different reason altogether. When called on to read from the scriptures in Bible class in 6th grade, I could not get past the word a$$ in reference to the animal the a$$ for it's juxtaposition to the holy words themselves. Thus my trip to the principal's office for uncontrollable laughter which resulted in my a$$ getting whooped! Nowadays, I use the word a$$ freely, because I can. But I do not speak often of the animal.

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    1. I wish I had been there! You are so funny.

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  14. Beth, I cannot imagine why anyone would object to "redder" and "wetter". They are perfectly good words. Maybe someone is lumping them in with "littler". Technically there's nothing wrong this that either, but it's awkward. "Smaller" is a better choice. I don't see "more red" or "more wet" as better.

    As to someone correcting you about "irregular"--I cannot imagine many circumstances when it is remotely acceptable for an adult to verbally correct another adult's grammar. Even Jason and I don't do that. He and I have always proofed each others correspondence when we have held offices or wrote for newsletters etc. He was doing that for me and I had used the word "irregardless". He said, "You know, that's not a word." I was glad to hear it.

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  15. Gwen, Oh, I love me some description. I once spent five pages describing the hero's bedroom and bedding. I thought because I needed to know, I was obligated to share it. I've learned.

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