PDA

View Full Version : Overused "obscure" words



robeiae
04-06-2005, 07:18 PM
Have you ever seen a word that is generally rarely used suddenly be used with great frequency, either by a single writer/speaker or by alot of them?

Example 1: in the 2000 Presidential race, "gravitas" was used all the time, but I don't recall it being used prior to or since, at least not significantly.

Example 2: the use of the word "authentic" in reference to someone's character is becoming quite common nowadays. The last time I think it was used this way to this extent was by Martin Hediegger and students of his philosophy in the 30's and 40's.

Any thoughts?

Rob

Richard
04-06-2005, 07:23 PM
'a myriad of'

And made extra-bad by the poor grammar.

arrowqueen
04-07-2005, 02:03 AM
Yes. Words suddenly become 'buzzwords' and you get sick of the sound of them.

Another strange thing I've found is that when I come across a word I haven't seen before or hear a reference to something I haven't previously come across, within days, it suddeny starts popping up all over the place.

Odd.

Richard
04-07-2005, 02:18 AM
It's just one of those paradigms.

three seven
04-07-2005, 02:24 AM
Basra.

reph
04-07-2005, 05:38 AM
"Reference" as a verb. It started a few years ago, and now a disgusting number of speakers and writers think it's right.

maestrowork
04-07-2005, 05:58 AM
"Fundamental."

Anatole Ghio
04-07-2005, 10:14 AM
Example 1: in the 2000 Presidential race, "gravitas" was used all the time, but I don't recall it being used prior to or since, at least not significantly.

Example 2: the use of the word "authentic" in reference to someone's character is becoming quite common nowadays.

I don't know of the examples you speak of, but in politics, buzz words are used to blanket the media by different politicians so that the message gets across through innundation. So if the buzz word of the day is gravitas, several politicians of the same party will use that word in order to spread a unified message.

Flip flop was an example of this in the last campaign.

arrowqueen
04-08-2005, 01:58 AM
Ah, yes, 'reference'. One of my favourites. Right up there along with 'source' - as in:

'We haven't got one of those, Madam. I'll try and source it for you.'

'No! No! Please don't! I beg of you! 'Look for it'/'find it' - but for the love of God, Montresor, please don't 'source' it!'

or 'overspend' as in: 'This year, the company ended up with a massive overspend.' No, it bloody didn't. It overspent.

I really, really hate anthimeria!

William Haskins
04-08-2005, 11:58 PM
hunter thompson was a big fan of both "avarice" and "overweening".

if memory serves, he on more than one occasion used them in conjunction with one another, as in: overweening avarice.

it never bothered me, really. we've all got our bag of tricks.

Liam Jackson
04-09-2005, 12:32 AM
It's just one of those paradigms.

That's an especially irritating word. Moreso when a speaker repeatedly (20-30 times during a ninety-minute presentation) pronounces it, "Par-rad-i GEM"

Liam Jackson
04-09-2005, 12:59 AM
A short list of current Department of Defense buzz words and phrases- Notice the number of offenders that have already been mentioned.

paradigm
scenario
"think outside the box..." (this one just...won't...die!)
black ops
WMD
reference
hard skills
soft skills
interface
network
deploy (ex- "I will deploy to Tampa for the conference.")
impact- all-purpose offender ex- "we will..., you can..., he did..., that might...
it could..., shall we...?, might they...?, ...andonandonandonandon
bloviate
concur
dichotomy
plethora
schematic

arrowqueen
04-09-2005, 04:33 AM
I quite like 'avarice', myself. (Which rubbed off onto small niece, who, upon being presented with 10p would go: 'Rich! Rich beyond the dreams of avarice!' - which I found quite sweet.)

I do prefer 'overweening' in conjunction with 'arrogance', though.

Um...and what exactly does 'biovate' mean?

arrowqueen
04-09-2005, 04:35 AM
'bloviate', sorry.

Liam Jackson
04-09-2005, 04:57 AM
Bloviate- to speak or write verbosely and windily

How's that for irony?

arrowqueen
04-10-2005, 02:31 AM
Lol. Ty. My dictionary is ancient and didn't have it.

maestrowork
04-10-2005, 03:14 AM
"Obscurity."

trumancoyote
04-12-2005, 10:50 AM
Boo. I'm a big fan of 'bloviate.'

It sounds so much like what it means.

Blooooviate. Bloviate.

Yeah, I like it.

Patricia
04-12-2005, 11:00 AM
"Clearly." Have you noticed how all the news station consultants and public speakers throw that word around? "Clearly, it has become an over-used word."

Liam Jackson
04-13-2005, 08:40 AM
I didn't dislike "bloviate" until I had to endure its useage...approx. 40 mentions....during a seminar on "effective communications." :)

maestrowork
04-13-2005, 06:05 PM
"Obfuscate" or "obfuscation" -- it's a word used a lot in the IT and software arena.

Hate that word.

Rambling
04-14-2005, 06:33 PM
"Clearly." Have you noticed how all the news station consultants and public speakers throw that word around? "Clearly, it has become an over-used word."

Back in university, we were told this was a mathematical term meaning:
"While I believe this to be true, I can't prove it to you now."

It proved a source of great amusement every time a lecturer used it.

Rambling
04-14-2005, 06:36 PM
Oh, and -

'ubiquitous'. Generally used by the same people who use the word 'plethora'.

arrowqueen
04-15-2005, 02:09 AM
There used to be a restaurant in Glasgow called 'The Ubiquitous Chip' ('french fry', for my Colonial chums.)

They didn't provide any.

soloset
04-19-2005, 01:22 AM
I quite like 'avarice', myself. (Which rubbed off onto small niece, who, upon being presented with 10p would go: 'Rich! Rich beyond the dreams of avarice!' - which I found quite sweet.)

I do prefer 'overweening' in conjunction with 'arrogance', though.

Um...and what exactly does 'biovate' mean?

Your niece sounds absolutely adorable. :)

Did you mean 'bloviate'? That means to talk at length on a subject in a windy fashion -- I hear it on my fiance's favorite news program frequently and had to look it up myself.

I'm tired of hearing "invalidate" myself. As in, "you're trying to invalidate my feelings!" No, I'm not, you're just wrong! Muhahahaha!

And I'm starting to wonder if "that" really is a valid synonym for "who" and I've just been mixed up all these years.

Optimus
04-19-2005, 12:18 PM
Your fiance watches Bill O'Reilly way too much. ;)

I hate the word, "impactful."

Just makes me think of constipation.

MadScientistMatt
04-19-2005, 08:03 PM
Your fiance watches Bill O'Reilly way too much. ;)

I hate the word, "impactful."

Just makes me think of constipation.

"Impact" is bad enough. I sometimes want to use a 10 lb sledgehammer to demonstrate to people who overuse this word what it is supposed to mean.

arrowqueen
04-20-2005, 01:50 AM
Better not - otherwise you might find yourself sharing a cell with a 300 lb bloke called Bubba, who will teach you Opti's definition of 'impactful'!

MadScientistMatt
04-20-2005, 06:09 PM
Hey, it's not like I said "demonstrate on people who overuse this word." :)

arrowqueen
04-21-2005, 02:14 AM
My apologies. I inferred wrongly that you were going to beat them to a pulp - but I'm sure the thought never even crossed your mind.

triceretops
05-01-2005, 08:41 AM
When Regan said, "Rebate" I knew we were cooked

Tri

Torin
05-02-2005, 12:12 AM
I have issues with the overuse/misuse of "decimate", as in "the city was decimated by the hurricane".

sigh

Dawno
05-02-2005, 01:01 AM
Resonate. The word didn't bother me and went unnoticed until I discovered the Neverending PA thread here on AW. Now everytime I hear the word resonate (and dang, it's used much more often than I had realized) I cringe.

My children picked up the use of the word actually at an early age and those who did not live with them would hear them start a sentence with "Actually, yadda yadda" and think it clever or precocious. Good thing I didn't fall for the literally fad.

I eventually realized that I'd often correct misconceptions they came home with from school or playing with friends by starting sentences with "Actually, the way it really works" or "Actually, it's pronounced..." bad habit to have, worse to have trained them to use it as well. :o

Unique
05-03-2005, 12:30 AM
...if a word is overused, doesn't that mean it isn't "obscure" anymore?

triceretops
05-03-2005, 11:11 AM
Hmmm. Unique, you have a brain that thinks.

Tri

robeiae
05-03-2005, 06:47 PM
...if a word is overused, doesn't that mean it isn't "obscure" anymore?

Since I started this thread, I'll clarify:

I would say overused "obscure" (note the quotes) words are ones that are now more common but are used with the intent of demonstrating that the speaker or writer is some kind of wordsmith or heavy intellectual; unfortunately, because of overuse, such words make him/her look more like a hack. How's that?

Rob

Unique
05-03-2005, 07:45 PM
Thanx for the clarification. It reminds me of a book I read once (a long time ago) in the mystery genre. After I came across three words (VERY obscure words) I wrote them all down. It took up two columns on lined notebook paper by the time I reached the end of the book. That's when I realized the author had done it on purpose. Kind of her way of "ha ha, made you think" - or grab the Webster's anyway. After the third 'obscure' word I started wondering....sure, I run up on words I don't know...once in a while. But I had no clue about these words - not even in context. Marketing ploy? Slipped by the editor? Let's see if the readers are paying attention? Who knows? I don't remember the author or the book....sorry, I read entirely too much to remember everything....but I will NEVER forget a book with that many obscure words. The point of this post? No point. Ha ha, made you think.:wag:

Frumious B
05-11-2005, 02:59 AM
A couple of my managers have started to use 'provision' like this:

We will provision four programmers to blah blah blah.

I thought is was just a typo the first time I saw it but it keeps cropping up. Has anyone else seen this or do you think it might be that (as I suspect) my managers are both lunatics?

reph
05-11-2005, 10:05 AM
Fru B, your managers are being pretentious. That happens a lot in business. Why don't they just say they'll provide four programmers, or assign them, or recruit them? To provision the programmers would mean to pack lunches for them.

Bleh.

Frumious B
05-12-2005, 08:58 AM
To provision the programmers would mean to pack lunches for them.

Bleh.

As I suspected Reph. Lunatics the both of them.

maestrowork
05-12-2005, 09:22 AM
oxymoron

virtuoso

bravado

reph
05-12-2005, 10:31 PM
Ooh, bravado. Especially that false bravado that people contrast with the real stuff.

Unique
05-12-2005, 11:54 PM
copacetic. Thank God I don't hear that much any more. Whatever it was supposed to mean in the first place. Ick. Ick. Ick.

Stephanie R
06-20-2005, 11:40 AM
Have any of you encountered people who seem to use the obscure words on purpose? Like they spent the evening before reading the Thesaurus and purposely chose words to use because they think it makes them sound educated? I work with a person who does that, and it drives me nuts. I hesitate to correct him since he is in a higher position, but sometimes I am tempted to leave a little sticky note pointing out that he used a word incorrectly.

Now on to words I hate:

1. portfolio - as in "I would love to help you, but I don't have the portfolio to handle that type of matter." (A co-worker uses this constantly. His usage is actually referring to a position as head of state or cabinet member, but since he's just a scientist geek, it makes it sound like there's a brochure or something on the topic somewhere, but he's misplaced it!)

2. bona fides - as in "If you continue to question my bona fides, there is no reason for further discussion."

3. Liam brought up "soft skills", but the word (phrase) I hate is "skill set".

4. Opine (thanks Bill O'Reily)

5. Jaxtapose

6. Tantamount

7. Basically (overused at the beginning of sentences, much like "actually"

8. Integral

mkcbunny
07-11-2005, 07:04 AM
When Regan said, "Rebate" I knew we were cooked

And I believe we have Bill Clinton to thank for "grow the economy." My husband has a fit every time that expression is used. He'll start yelling at the TV, "You can't 'grow' the economy. You can't 'grow' business. They aren't plants!"


Have any of you encountered people who seem to use the obscure words on purpose?
I have a friend who uses obscure words correctly. It's astonishing. He can pull the perfect polysyllabic word out of his hat and employ it in casual conversation. Recently, he was speaking off the cuff and "transmogrification" came out. It was the proper word in the context at hand. But I know very few people who can do this for real and are not trying to impress others.

As for trendy words ... Several years ago, a friend tried an experiment where she selected an obscure word purposely started saying it to everyone she knew. She was trying to see how long it would take for the phrase to reach mainstream media. The word was "frosted." As in

Webster: 3 : to make angry or irritated <your attitude really frosts me>
intransitive senses : to become frosted

My recollection is that it took several months before it started cropping up on TV. Try it. Make something up and see where it goes.

Jens22
08-01-2005, 07:29 AM
I don't know if this counts, but for a while there it seemed as if every other piece of literary short fiction I read contained the word "bougainvillea." I'd never heard of this plant in my life.

Oh, and "scrim." Everybody wants to write a poem with "scrim."

pconsidine
08-04-2005, 11:13 PM
People who use words like these in the course of normal conversation always sound to me like they just got a word-a-day calendar for their birthday and are determined to use all 365 words as often as possible.

They also remind me of a quote (I think attributed to Mark Twain): "I haven't the time to be brief."

Pity the poor English langauge, left in the hands of barbarians.

Carole
09-08-2005, 10:51 PM
I don't know if this counts, but for a while there it seemed as if every other piece of literary short fiction I read contained the word "bougainvillea." I'd never heard of this plant in my life.


Ooooh. But a Bougainvillea really is a beautiful plant with the prettiest blooms! Nasty thorns, too. They grow wild in South Florida. It's funny that you would bring that up, though. A couple of summers ago my landlady, soon to be ex-landlady, bought a Bougainvillea in a hanging basket for her porch and I think she was really fond of saying the name. Every time I would call her she'd mention it, to the point where I started asking about it first!

robeiae
09-09-2005, 06:10 PM
Ooooh. But a Bougainvillea really is a beautiful plant with the prettiest blooms! Nasty thorns, too. They grow wild in South Florida.

Bougainvilleas suck, especially when you have neighbors growing them on the other side of the fence such that they drap over your driveway. Everytime there is a storm, the branches get pushed down lower and I can't get out of the driveway without the thorns scratching my car's roof. So I end up trying to trim some away at 7 am--in a foul mood--and end up with little cuts all over my arms and legs.

Rob :)

arrowqueen
09-10-2005, 03:47 AM
But they sound lovely.

Albedo of Zero
01-04-2006, 03:08 PM
paradigm is a nickle short of a quarter