A Literal Epidemic of Crutch Words

Sep 18, 2012 by

By JEN DOLL SEP 13, 2012  From www.theatlanticwire.com

Last week Joe Biden’s excessive use of the word literally in his speech at the DNC had the word again the talk of the Internet. It wasn’t incorrect, exactly, even if it wasn’t the absolute cleanest of speech-making techniques, per seI wrote a post explaining that, contrary to popular belief, his use of the term was hyperbole, an accepted meaning of the phrase, and I listed a number of other “crutch words” and phrases that we are wont to throw around too easily in common and formal conversation alike. Among those phrases: As it were, actually, basically, um, like, apparently. 

Of course, we didn’t list all the crutch words, because it appears we’re living in a crutch word epidemic. There are so many! Many of you got in touch to share your own hate-favorites as well as to complain about your experiences with coworkers who are always saying, “Let me be clear,” or otherwise beloved friends who won’t stop peppering their sentences with fascinating when you’re pretty sure they mean anything but. Others complained that we were being too judgy about crutch words, and perhaps they’re right, but whatever. Here’s a handy compendium of additional crutch words, those verbal (and sometimes written) pauses that we just can’t seem to help using, culled from your comments and emailed insights, along with a bit of our own. No adverb is safe, as one person informed me. She may be right. Right?

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