Words That Make Me Shudder on the Inside

“Iconic.” “Party.” “Brunch.” If you can’t say something nice…

Jeremy Helligar


Photo: Pexels/Ketut Subiyanto

We live in a culture of indecipherable abbreviations, trendy buzzwords, psychobabble, and professional jargon that I don’t recall people saying or writing with such regularity pre-social media and 24/7 Internet news. They now seem to roll off everyone else’s tongues and fingertips with ease while I’m still working on correcting my ableist speech and remembering to use proper non-binary pronouns.

To be honest (or TBH, as anyone more than a decade younger than me seems to write, if not actually say, these days), some of these currently trendy words and phrases are getting right up there with “woke” (the White, right-wing remix, not the Black original) and “divisive” (another right-wing specialty) in their level of grating. (Thankfully, “cancel culture” appears to have been given a much-needed rest… for now.)

A sampler:

“amid” (a dotcom-headline specialty, but has anyone in the history of speaking ever actually said “amid”?)

“copy/Roger that”

“diversity” (now as meaningless as it used to be well-meaning)



“holistic” (the new “synergy”)

“iconic” (If everything is iconic, is anything iconic?)

“jinx” (no worse than “great minds think alike,” but what does it even mean?)


“my/your truth”

“Obsessed” (as a melodramatic, overused twist on “I like it”)


“reductive” (the last time Madonna started a trend)



And then there are those random, shudder-worthy words and phrases that have been in active rotation for as long as I can remember. I once had a conversation with a group of colleagues…



Jeremy Helligar

Brother Son Husband Friend Loner Minimalist World Traveler. Author of “Is It True What They Say About Black Men?” and “Storms in Africa” https://rb.gy/3mthoj