by Barbara D'Amato
The Telegraph recently published a list compiled by Oxford scholars [who were apparently taking well-deserved time off from more scholarly pursuits] of their top ten most irritating words and phrases. They were:
At the end of the day
At this moment in time
With all due respect
It’s a nightmare
It’s not rocket science
Now, I don’t mind 24/7. It’s quicker than writing “all the time” and it’s no more cumbersome to say “we’re open 24/7,” than “we’re always open.” But I agree with them on the others.
However, one word has been increasingly irritating me, and the Oxford group seems not have noticed it.
I have a coffeemaker—one of those with a tank you fill with water and a hopper you fill with coffee beans. It has a read-out that warns you when it needs to be cleaned and that’s okay. But the read-out will also say “unit heating” or “unit rinsing.” There would be no loss in meaning and a gain in brevity for it to say “rinsing” or “cleaning.” Why say “unit rinsing”? I certainly understand that IT is being rinsed, not my glassware or the spinach.
Similarly, I met a fellow apartment-dweller in our lobby a few days ago who asked, “What unit are you in?” The whole building is apartments. Why not ask what apartment? My son’s office was in an all-offices building, but it was still called a unit. “Apartment” and “office” are not high-visceral words, but at least they have a specific meaning.
Then there’s “each and every.” Sometimes each may sound better and sometimes every, but both always sounds worse. I can’t imagine a time you’d need both. It’s word-bloat.
Then there’s “to my way of thinking.” Who else’s?
What are your unloved words and phrases? Tell me. I’m collecting these units.