Words and terms that must die


Since the world sucks, and looks as though it will continue to suck for the foreseeable future, and since more than one person has asked for some comic relief, I thought we might amuse ourselves as Rome burns as follows.

I thought it might be fun to list terms/words people hate. If I may make a suggestion, please be as ornery (=funny) as possible.

So, I'll list a few:

  • Table -- as in, "on/off the table," "bring to the table," etc. I'm sick of this Platonic table already. Fuck the table.
  • To reach out to -- as in, "I'm going to reach out to X on that issue that's on the table." I only reach out to someone if I want to have some serious hardcore intimacy or if they're holding out a flotation device and I'm in the North Sea in February.
  • Beg(s) the question -- when used improperly. Begging the question does not mean raising a question -- as in, "Doug's little-read blog begs the question of why does he bother?" -- it indicates a tautology, as in, "To say that Doug annoys me because he's annoying begs the question." I'm trying to be funny here, not annoying.
  • [any term from the natural or social sciences brought into the business world] As in, paradigm, tipping point, and so on. A sublist, for sure, on which should be incubate, a term now used in business, which I learned when a friend used it during my trip to Colorado last summer. For a minute, I thought his company had moved into Huxleyan cloning. Throw in solution set and other terms hijacked from mathematics.
  • Skillset. I fucking hate this term more than life itself. "Skills" works fine. That little "s" at the end of a word tends to make things plural in English. A little pattern I just noticed. "Skillset" just makes one sound more "mathy," "hard," and rigorous -- which is hilarious because we're in the land of "soft" metaphor.
  • X is in Y's DNA -- as in, "Winning is just in Lance Armstrong's DNA." The misuse of "DNA" to mean "character" is more than annoying; it reinforces bad biology and worse misconceptions about the sources of behavior.
  • To multitask. I'm not a computer. The proper term is, "to be exploited." You can put interface on that list, too. I'm sorry, Dave, I can't let you use that term.
  • Mission critical, and any number of other military terms that have been seconded to other duties. Such terms are legion. It's a cheap way to sound tough, focused, and hypermasculine. Instructional design, being mostly fifth-rate behaviorism and DoD-influenced (a historical, not rhetorical statement), has been heavily infiltrated by such terms. No one has yet come up with "e-mission," though.
  • To partner. As in, "Bill and Monica will partner on that e-missions project." "Collaborate" is a perfectly good word; "work together" are two words that work well together in this sense.
That should get it going. Every field of endeavor has its bullshit terms; god knows instructional design, history, social theory, philosophy, and all that crap I'm into does. So have at it.

Since we want to be as negative as possible, I suggest we not argue for terms others hate but rather against terms we hate but are not yet on the list. But feel free to ignore that.


  1. Testing; friends and blog-readers have told me this doesn't work.

  2. From friends:

    "Digest," as in, "I need to digest that report you gave me."

    "'nother," as in, "That's a whole 'nother topic."

  3. My wife tells me that a new term of inart is "touch the stone," as a verbal perversion of "touchstone" to indicate, "getting to the core of the matter." Example:
    "Our organization will need to touch the stone in order to clarify our strategic mission."


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