What Word is Most Abused?


After reading an interesting article, Is “ironic” the most abused word in English?  I had to wonder a bit.  I agree with the writer that many people do misuse the word ironic, but is the mistake really that common?  A few of the examples given were perhaps not the best examples of irony, but not really wildly wrong, either, IMO. 

So what word IS the most abused?

What about “unique?”  I get weary of that one.  If something is unique, there is absolutely nothing in the world like it.  My fingerprint, for instance, is unique.  Either something is unique or it isn’t.  There is no “sort of unique,” or “kind of unique.”  That is like saying that an object is sort of alive–no, it’s either alive or inanimate.  There really isn’t any “sort of” about it.

Another candidate–a word that has been sorely abused in Teenagese– is “awesome.”  Awesome used to be a particularly reverent word, referring only to things which inspired hushed tones and wondering eyes… perhaps a gorgeous sunset or a painting by Rembrandt… but it has lost any sense of otherworldliness it once had.  Now it can be casually used to refer to an article of clothing or a sunny day.  What a comedown!

What words can you think of that have been abused?



About dayuntoday

I'm a wonderer. I spend a lot of time mulling, pondering, and cogitating. This is just a place to park some of those thoughts.
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3 Responses to What Word is Most Abused?

  1. mcbery says:

    One phrase I can think of that annoys me is someone saying, ‘Let me be clear’ when they are not even close to clear.

  2. fwren says:

    THE MOST OVERUSED WORD in our culture right now is “LIKE” !!!  Drives me, like, REALLY nuts ~

  3. mamaglop says:

    I think “awesome” is a good choice.  My particular nomination is “then” which is used where the word should be “than” I really hate when  then is used rather than than. I would also like to nominate “censorship” which is trotted out to silence anybody with a moral or tasteful opinion.  Then there is “hate” which is used much the same way.

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