Saturday, December 08, 2007

Overused Expressions

Anyone who reads the press or listens to political discussions on National Public Radio or watches news programs hears certain expressions over and over. Probably the most-overused expressions these days is “having said that” or “that said.” Some talking heads on television seem to use one of these two expressions every fourth or fifth sentence. What did people say before these overused expressions became the norm? They used the very serviceable word “however”. I would like to see the word “however” reintroduced into intelligent discussion.

In the semiconductor industry, an overused expression is “the food chain”, which means…. To tell you the truth, I’m not positive what it means, but I think it may be a hackneyed way of saying “hierarchy”.

“Comprises” and “is comprised of” are expressions that are often confused, although they have opposite meanings. I suggest the less-confusing alternatives “makes up” and “is made up of”, which writers are more likely to use correctly.

The expressions “I could care less” and “I couldn’t care less” also seem to have opposite meanings, but some speakers confuse them, saying “I could care less” when they don’t care at all. Why not just say “I don’t care”?

Well, the list of such expressions is long, and I’m sure that you have your favorites. I would like you to add them to the comments to this blog. -- Jack