As a writer, I love words. Obviously. I mean, come on, how stupid. Of course a writer loves words. Why wouldn’t he? That would be like a musician saying he hates music.
Okay, so now that I’ve established that I love words…there are certain words I love. I love saying them, I love writing them. Words like “ennui” and “tether” and “tenor” (as in, “given the tenor of the situation,” and not, “Hey, that Pavarotti was a great tenor!”), I dunno, I just love ‘em. There are also certain words people seem to dislike which I seem to like. Take “moist,” for example. Sure, it’s soaked in double entendre. Me, I love a good double entendre. Plus, it sounds funny, and can be used to bring the funny. For example, I’ll be watching Jeopardy!, and playing along, when I’ll suddenly burst out, “I’ll take ‘Things That Stay Moist For 24 Hours’ for $400, Alex.”
Do this the next time you watch Jeopardy!
There are, however, a few words I utterly despise. Hate ‘em! So much that I wish to do nothing more than to nuke them out of existence, then nuke them again just to be safe.
The one word I hate the most, and I mean REALLY HATE, is “strive.” This is the kind of word commonly dispensed by know-it-all pretentious assholes. Or overly-educated denizens of nations formerly colonized by Great Britain. In my line of work, I talk to a lot of technology professionals from India, and they LOVE to say this word. I don’t get it. Are they being paid each time they say the word “strive?”
The following is a real conversation:
Me: So, Rama (not his real name), can you give us a status update?”
Rama: As for the release of the code for production, we are striving for an early December release.
Me: Thank you, Rama, and your team, for striving so hard in striving to achieve these strivable (!) deadlines.
Rama: I’m sorry; I don’t understand what you’re saying. Please repeat.
Me: Oh, nothing. Good job, Rama. Keep striving.
Apparently these IT guys from India, as polite and smart as they are, don’t understand sarcasm. I can be such a dick sometimes. I hate my job.
My hatred for this word actually stems from my hatred for all things Ayn Rand. Confession: I was pretty Randian in my early 20s,* and why not? You’re fresh out of college, no job prospects, and you’re walking around with a giant chip on your shoulder because the world SIMPLY HAS NOT RECOGNIZED YOUR GENIUS! *FIST SHAKING!* Also, lots of alcohol and drugs, but that’s another story. So her whole virtues-of-selfishness mantra made a lot of sense to me. I read The Fountainhead. Of course! I am Howard Roark! I WILL NOT KOWTOW TO SOCIETAL LIMITATIONS! I WILL BE A SELFISH PRICK! FEAR ME, O WORLD!
Man, Ayn Rand seemed like the muthafuckin’ shit. She was all like “Don’t let the bastards grind you down!” and “To thine own self be a selfish asshole.” Being selfish was, well, cool. And the Gods know I can be selfish. Easy! I WILL STRIVE (*bows head in shame*) FOR GREATNESS!
Aaaaaaaaaaaand then I read Atlas Shrugged.
You know that feeling you get when you come to the horrifying realization that your girlfriend, who promised she’d be faithful and take care of you and protect you, is actually a dirty whore who fucked your best friend, your best friend’s dad, AND your dad, behind your back? And probably all three at the same time? WHORE! Yeah, that’s how I felt after forcing myself through 1100 pages of watching your girlfriend make you feel like a cuckold. Ayn Rand suddenly became that dirty slut of an ex-girlfriend, full of lies and half-truths and being so completely full of shit that she doesn’t even realize her butt is full of poop, and it’s stinky. Fuck that woman, and her sack-o’-shit philosophy. I was duped. And I hate being duped.
Anyway…”strive” was a word she loved using a lot. Now I go through some mild PTSD whenever I hear the word “strive.” Fuck you, Ayn Rand.
“Irregardless” is another word. It almost sounds like it’s not even a real word, like “supposebly.” I just want to punch the person who says “irregardless” in the face. Seriously, is that even a real word? MS Word doesn’t think so**. And if MS Word doesn’t think “irregardless” is a real word, then who are we to tell MS Word otherwise?
After graduating college, I slummed it for a while working for a building manufacturing supplier. The office manager was a mildly stupid, hyper-judgmental (he’d recently become a born-again Jehovah’s Witness) shit stain named Peter, who spoke as if he’d gotten his education from the prison library at Sing Sing and spoke in condescending tones. In other words, just because you read the World Book Encyclopedia (Kids’ Version) doesn’t make you a Ph-fucking-D. And he used the word “irregardless” a lot. Because he was too fucking intellectual to say “regardless.
I hated that job. And I hate his ass, especially when he would bum smokes from me all the time AND NEVER OFFER TO BUY ME A REPLACEMENT PACK.
Finally, “leverage” is an oft-used and over-abused CorpSpeak word abused in corporate settings everywhere. Why say, “Make sure you get Johnny involved in your project,” when “Make sure you leverage Johnny as a resource…” sounds so much better!
It’s not. It’s a boring and stupid word. You don’t “leverage” people. You don’t leverage resources, or budgets, or time, or deliverables. Enough with the CorpSpeak.
I really hate my job.
These are the kinds of words used by, frankly, an asshole. A pretentious, bowtie-wearing, hyper-intellectualized asshole. In other words, the kinds of words I would never use, nor would the characters in my novel use. Actually, that’s not true: there is one character, a self-righteous know-it-all named Hunter Blaze, who would abuse those three words. Think Tucker Carlson in superhero tights. Actually, don’t. But if you did think of Tucker Carlson in superhero tights, and you just threw up in your mouth, please accept my humblest apologies.
* Admit it, so were you.
** MS Word doesn’t like the word “vajazzle” either, and that’s a real word!