Overused Words in 2013


Are there any words that will make you scream if you hear it one more time? .. because you’ve heard it too many times.

I was told an entire team building class came to a halt because of one word – “Resilient”. A good word, we might say, but this group apparently has been hearing it every day from all their managers that the word loses its meaning and evolves into the most hated word at the working level.

What are the other vulnerable words that we’ve heard too often? Words that threaten to make the listener cringe with irritation like hearing Gangnam Style one more time.

One of these words is “sustainable“. Everyone seems to be mouthing it like a fashion statement in corporate circles, in politics, in schools, in seminars, almost anywhere you can see suits, heels and smartphones aplenty.

How did this word become so widely and overused today? It started as the top buzz word in 2006 according to Global Language Monitor. Huffington Post describes it as ‘trite’ degrading from an all-encompassing word for activities relating to protecting the earth and its environment.

Talking about the environment, there is a whole family of overused words such as “green”, “eco” and “organic”. Not so much as spoken but overused in advertisements, reports, signs, and what-not that catches the eye, usually in green with a leaf, a blue earth, happy children, hands holding some dirt and a seedling – a load of green-washing campaigns that eclipse authentic environmental projects with their glitzy media runs.

How about the word “diversity“? We learn about bio-diversity in school and don’t think too much of the word until now when all of a sudden, people toss gender, culture, generational, social, racial and whatever that’s not homogeneous into a melting pot of diversity. Especially in Singapore, we’ve been a diverse society for as long as the island was inhabited and why does it have to take so long for people to articulate the fact?

Finally, the use of “active ageing“. Community leaders like to use this to encourage seniors to be active to keep their minds and bodies healthy. Nothing wrong with that. But talk is cheap.

Let’s face it – with today’s escalating cost of living, social pressures, increasing healthcare costs, the term “active ageing” is more like premature ageing or actively speeding up the ageing process. So what good can this so-called “active ageing” do to an individual when the environment does not permit a graceful, meaningful space to enjoy ageing.

There are some others ..

win-win” – probably the longest running overused word

cool” – yes people are still using this, a leftover from dot.com era

cloud” – which really means host computer which has been around for the longest time

“moving forward”, “next step”, “move on” – with good intentions though in the name of progress

like” – in youth talk (can they talk without using that word?)

Just to add on, watch this clip from Graham Norton when guests Miriam Margolyes corrects will.i.am on using the word “like”. (0.32 – 1.15) It’s hilarious.



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