Hated buzzwords and vogue words

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    Are there words that annoy you or make your blood boil each time that you hear them?

    Here are a few of my least favorite:

    • iconic – This word has really been overused in advertising copy and contemporary writing to mean, “instantly recognizable.”
    • digital – I can only respect the use of this term either in its proper electrical engineering sense or as an adjective referring to the fingers. I cannot respect the corrupted senses of the word (that is, when it used as a marketing buzzword meaning “related to the Internet”).
    • analog – This word shares the same root as the word “analogous.” The intended concept is that something (such as the grooves cut into a record) are analogous to something else (the sound waves that those grooves represent). That is its proper use. Careless people misuse it to mean “not related to the Internet.”
    • broadband – (Thanks, Andy) Broad is a relative term and is somewhat ill defined. Some might say that a log-periodic is a broadband antenna design (compared to a Yagi or dipole). In the era of DSL and cable modems, “broadband” has become a marketing term that means any internet connection that delivers data at a faster rate than what can be achieved with a conventional telephone modem. This abuse has become so entrenched that the FCC has defined minimum data throughput rates that must be met in order for something to be marketed as broadband Internet.

    Mine are more media-related.

    Someone earlier posted using “reached out” – as in “we reached out to the victim for a comment”.

    Anchors that start EVERY story with “well”. Well? Why?

    Anchors/newswriters that editorialize. I’ll decide if a story is “tragic” or “shocking”, thank you very much – I don’t need help.


    When I lived in Alabama in the early 1990s, I recall that news anchors on WSFA would use the word “folks” in stories. (For example, “the plant closure will mean that up to 100 folks could lose their jobs.”) I know that broadcast announcers want their audiences be able to relate to them, but I think that using some of these quaint regionalisms in news broadcasts goes a bit too far.

    I have a similar reaction when I hear advertising copy that deliberately includes grammatical errors that are common in spoken English.


    In honor of Motozak3, I will add another one: “hacker.” In the original meaning of the term, hackers had no malicious intents. They were just technical hobbyists who wanted to creatively solve a problem or to enhance the performance of some piece of equipment, circuit, tool, software, etc. Radio-Electronics magazine used to have a column called “Hardware Hacker.”

    At some time in the 1990s, the term became associated with defeating security/anti-copy mechanisms in software, creating computer viruses, and gaining unauthorized access into databases and computer accounts.


    I can’t stand the term African-American.

    What are black people called in England?


    African Britons?

    My pet peeve buzz word:


    As in:
    “Ping me when you’re free”


    Don Lancaster was the author of “Hardware Hacker.” I don’t recall that he ever took a position on the term “Hacker.” He just used it. I recall that his column was the first place where I heard about the PostScript language and desktop publishing (which itself is a marketing buzzword). I recall that in one of his columns, he had some sample PostScript code that would draw fractals and other patterns.

    Clumsy metaphoric use of technical and business words is a category unto itself. Examples like these drive me batty:

    • Let’s take this discussion offline.
    • I would really appreciate your feedback.
    • The applications engineers are our interface to the customer.
    • My crappy video just went viral on YouTube!
    • I love chocolate, and that’s the bottom line.
    Andy Brown

    “What are black people called in England?”


    Also, they tend to know their heritage, so they often refer to themselves as, e.g., Kenyan, Ugandan, etc.

    African Americans for the most part had their heritage wiped out by the white slave masters, especially the generation that was born just before, during or immediately after they were shanghaied into slavery.


    “…At the end of the day…”

    We can lose this phrase anytime.


    But, it literally is the end of the day (11:59 PM)! 🙂

    Andy Brown

    Web developer and cloud computing.


    “Hollow State” for vacuum tube electronics circuits.


    “COB” is a stupid buzzword in my oppinion


    Yes! Any mentions to “in the cloud” make me go BLECH!


    Yeah, I don’t like that one much either.

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