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Watch how you use words

Posted: October 24, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 24, 2012 2:00 a.m.

At the end of the day, we’ve got to stop saying “at the end of the day.” Phrases, like some words, have a shelf life. This phrase has been overused and should be retired.

In an election year, you hear but rarely read this phrase in almost every political analysis. Sometimes, you hear it twice in a single sentence. Let’s retire it!

Some words appear in political assessments that sound very 19th century. You rarely hear “boondoggle” or “kerfuffle” except in a political context. And brouhaha ... puleeze.

Don’t we have any newer words to replace these antiquated holdovers?

The media, especially the writers of news, have gotten lazy. The Nixon-era Watergate scandal was named for where the break-in took place; the Watergate Hotel.

Now every scandal, suspected scandal, or made-up scandal has to have a “gate” added to it. That’s a writer being lazy.

Alcoholics are addicted to alcohol. There is no such thing as Disneyohol, so there cannot be any Disneyoholics. The only thing different between alcohol and alcoholic is the “-ic.” It is really sad to conflate an addiction with an overly strong liking for something.

Other words are, unfortunately, rapidly losing their meaning. “War” and “hero” are examples. We have a war on drugs, a war on cancer, etc. Television has cupcake wars and storage wars.

None of these is in any way like an actual war. Can we find another way to describe a competition?

Heroes do something over and above what others do, often at the risk of their own safety. Let’s not confuse idols with heroes.

Unless that outfielder risked his life to make that catch, he isn’t a sports hero.


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