The utilisation of words — 22 Comments

  1. I once was involved in the design of a piece of kit we were flogging to military.
    It had a two digit display indicating which video signal was being selected for onward transmission to the decision makers.
    Below the display were two buttons, one to increase the displayed number and thus the signal selected, and the other to decrease the number.
    On the drawings I was going to label the buttons “UP” and “DOWN”
    A pompous twit, in SE England of course, changed these labels to “INCREMENT” and “DECREMENT”

  2. “I wonder if they are going to reassemble that rocket?”

    If they do, I definitely won’t be riding on it.

    • It all went so well until the last moment when they discovered they were missing one vital screw

  3. ‘Back-to-back’ is something that I hate. Another is ‘fraught’ without saying what the frautiness is. Fraught WITH ….

  4. “At one point, Barnum noticed that people were lingering too long at his exhibits. He posted signs indicating “This Way to the Egress”. Not knowing that “Egress” was another word for “Exit”, people followed the signs to what they assumed was a fascinating exhibit — and ended up outside.” –

    “For his part, Barnum always maintained that his patrons were not “suckers” but willing participants in his lighthearted pranks and hoaxes. “The people like to be humbugged,” he once said.” –

  5. In my past working days evaluating ‘leading edge’ PC software products, any faults or quirks discovered were described officially as ‘undocumented features’. In Beta products, often more than the documented ones!

  6. My dad used to fume at the gormless phrase of complaint, “It’s a diabolical liberty”, because how could a devilish concern be associated with a freedom?

  7. Have you noticed the increasing use of “go ahead and,” as in “I’m going to go head and paint the fence.” (It seems that “I’m going to paint the fence.” isn’t sufficient – fair warning needs to be issued first!)

  8. Many years ago, on a long car journey, I was listening to a radio interview with a rock/pop musician. It seemed that his mot du jour (if you’ll excuse my French) was “situation”. He’d been in several bands but according to him he’d never been in a band, he’d always been in a band situation. The interview went on for about an hour and towards the end he stumbled and stuttered searching for the correct word. You know the sort of thing, you start saying “…erm … er … I … you know …” etc. The word he was looking for and couldn’t find was “situation”. The only time in the whole interview when “situation” was the right word to use and his brain wouldn’t let him use it. 🙂

    I literally* laughed my head off. 😉

    * Another word that is misutilised.

  9. Back in my day, “guy” was a person of the male persuasion. Now [due to our friends over the water] “you guys” means a collection including females. That expression grates on my nerves to this day.

  10. We do not have hauliers any more. We have logistics provider.
    We have bin lorries, domestic refuse recycling vehicles?, with sign at front saying “Caution, operatives working at rear.” Now nice it must be to know that you are an operative.
    Sanguineous fornicators.

    • ‘Basically’ you’re right, er, ‘basically’…

      A caller on LBC late one night last week said that word for every five words he gabbled!


  11. “I hear what you’re saying.” Apparently, it began as a phrase used by Californian psychiatrists when talking to mental patients. If they said, “No, you’re not Napolean.” it could start a confrontation, while if they said, ” Yes, you are Napolean. “, there would be no power to keep the patient in the institution. “I hear what you’re saying, that you believe you’re Napolean” is non committal. Now, that bloody phrase is just another example of management speak.

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