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297 Flabby Words and Phrases That Rob Your Writing of All Its Power

297 Flabby Words and Phrases That Rob Your Writing of All Its Power

You’re not stupid.

You know what writing is truly about.

It’s a never-ending battle for your readers’ attention.

Every sentence is a link in a taut chain that connects your headline to your conclusion.

And you are just one weak sentence away from losing your reader forever.

So you take your craft quite seriously.

You ignore all but your best ideas.

You work on each piece of writing for exactly as long as necessary to get it right.

And you edit until your words are crisp and clear.

But what if that isn’t enough?

What if weaknesses remain that are almost impossible to spot?

The Subtle Attention Killers That Hide in Plain Sight

No matter how carefully you scrutinize your writing, subtle problems will remain.

Certain words and phrases are so commonplace – and so seemingly benign – that they glide unnoticed under your editing radar.

But these words and phrases can silently erode your reader’s attention.

They don’t stand out. The reader may not even notice them.

But they weaken your writing and dilute your ideas.

And soon, the delicate thread of attention connecting you and your reader snaps.

So if you’re serious about your writing, you must learn to spot these words and phrases before they rob your writing of its power.

Find and ruthlessly remove the following flabby words and phrases from your writing:

  1. About – Try not to use this term when discussing quantities. Use “approximately” or a range instead. Ex: About 20 people attended. Better: Approximately 20 people attended. Or: Fifteen to twenty people attended.
  2. Absolutely essential – Redundant phrase. You don’t need absolutely. Ex: Fresh eggs are absolutely essential to this recipe. Better: Fresh eggs are essential to this recipe.
  3. Absolutely necessary – Redundant phrase. You don’t need absolutely. Ex: Reading is absolutely necessary to write well. Better: Reading is necessary to write well.
  4. Accordingly – Use simpler replacement, such as so. Ex: Accordingly, be careful next time. Better: So, be careful next time.
  5. Accuracy – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: The accuracy of his report wasn’t good. Better: His report wasn’t accurate.
  6. Actual facts – Redundant phrase. You don’t need actual. Ex: Listen to the actual facts of the case. Better: Listen to the facts of the case.
  7. Admit to – Flabby expression. Drop to. Ex: You should admit to stealing the coat. Better: You should admit stealing the coat.
  8. Advance forward – Redundant phrase. You don’t need forward. Ex: The army advanced forward. Better: The army advanced.
  9. Advance planning – Redundant phrase. You don’t need advance. Ex: The heist required advanced planning. Better: The heist required planning.
  10. Advance warning – Redundant phrase. You don’t need advance. Ex: The storm hit with no advance warning. Better: The storm hit with no warning.
  11. Add an additional – Redundant phrase. You don’t need an additional. Ex: Add an additional string to your bow. Better: Add a string to your bow.
  12. Add up – Redundant phrase. You don’t need up. Ex: Add up your hours and see if you qualify for overtime. Better: Add your hours and see if you qualify for overtime.
  13. Added bonus – Redundant phrase. You don’t need added. Ex: Winning the prize was an added bonus. Better: Winning the prize was a bonus.
  14. Almost – Use approximations such as this sparingly. Specific terms are better. Ex: It was almost time for class. Better: Class started in one minute.
  15. All of – Flabby expression. Drop of. Ex: All of the guests loved the party. Better: All the guests loved the party.
  16. All time record – Redundant phrase. You don’t need all time. Ex: He broke the all time record for home runs. Better: He broke the record for home runs.
  17. All things being equal – Empty Phrase. Don’t use it. Ex: All things being equal, we should arrive tonight. Better: If all goes well, we should arrive tonight.
  18. Alternative choice – Redundant phrase. You don’t need choice. Ex: He had no alternative choice but to fight. Better: He had no alternative but to fight.
  19. All throughout – Redundant phrase. You don’t need all. Ex: War exists all throughout history. Better: War exists throughout history.
  20. Analysis – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: Give an analysis of the data and then create a summary.
    Better: Analyze the data and then summarize it.
  21. And etc. – Redundant phrase. You don’t need and. Ex: She loved dogs, cats, frogs, and etc. Better: She loved dogs, cats, frogs, etc.
  22. Anonymous stranger – Redundant phrase. You don’t need anonymous. Ex: An anonymous stranger sent her flowers. Better: A stranger sent her flowers.
  23. Appearance – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: His appearance caused cheers from the crowd. Better: He appeared and the crowd cheered.
  24. Area – Vague Noun. Cut or use more specific word. Ex: James left the area. Better: James left Maryland.
  25. Are/is after – Clunky verb construction. Use follow, or seek, or desire, or want. Ex: The events are after the lecture. Better: The events follow the lecture. Ex: I don’t know what you are after. Better: I don’t know what you want.
  26. Armed gunman – Redundant phrase. You don’t need armed. Ex: An armed gunman robbed the bank today. Better: A gunman robbed the bank today.
  27. As a matter of fact – Empty Phrase. Don’t use it. Ex: As a matter of fact, I did eat all the candy. Better: Yes, I ate the candy.
  28. As being – Flabby expression. You don’t need being. Ex: She is known as being the smartest in the school. Better: She is known as the smartest in the school.
  29. Ascend up – Redundant phrase. You don’t need up. Ex: Ascend up the steps to reach the top. Better: Ascend the steps to reach the top.
  30. As far as I’m concerned – Empty Phrase. Don’t use it. Ex: As far as I’m concerned, all politicians lie. Better: All politicians lie.
  31. Ask the question – Redundant phrase. You don’t need the question. Ex: Ask the question to your mother. Better: Ask your mother.
  32. Aspect – Vague noun. Cut or use more specific word. Ex:  Commercials are an aspect of television I don’t like. Better: I love television, but I hate commercials.
  33. Assemble together – Redundant phrase. You don’t need together. Ex: Assemble together the parts included in the box. Better: Assemble the parts included in the box.
  34. As to whether – Flabby expression. You don’t need as to. Ex: I didn’t know as to whether he’d stay or go. Better: I didn’t know whether he’d stay or go.
  35. As yet – Flabby expression. You don’t need as. Ex: No word on survivors as yet. Better: No word on survivors yet.
  36. At all times – Empty phrase. Don’t use, or fix. Ex: Be vigilant at all times. Better: Be vigilant.
  37. Attempt – Use simpler replacement, such as try. This word can be an example of nominalization too (verb or adjective turned into a noun). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: Attempt it again. Better: Try again. Ex: His attempt at suicide was met with failure. Better: He attempted suicide but failed.
  38. At the end of the day – Empty Phrases. Don’t use it. Ex: At the end of the day, the toughest survive. Better: The toughest survive.
  39. At the present time – Empty Phrase. Don’t use or fix. Ex: I have no money at the present time. Better: I have no money now. I currently have no money.
  40. At this point in time – Empty Phrase. Don’t use or fix. Ex: At this point in time, let’s just forget about our plans. Better: Let’s just forget about our plans.
  41. Bald-headed – Redundant phrase. You don’t need headed. Ex: He was bald-headed. Better: He was bald.
  42. Basic necessities – Redundant phrase. You don’t need basic. Ex: Prepare for disasters by stocking basic necessities. Better: Prepare for disasters by stocking necessities.
  43. Belief – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: It’s his belief that editing can be done with ease. Better: He believes editing is easy.
  44. Big – Weak adjective. Replace with something more precise. Ex: He was a big man. Better: He was six feet tall and 250 pounds.
  45. Blend together – Redundant phrase. You don’t need together. Ex: The colors blend together nicely. Better: The colors blend nicely.
  46. Bouquet of flowers – Redundant phrase. You don’t need of flowers. Ex: The bouquet of flowers was beautiful. Better: The bouquet was beautiful.
  47. Brief moment – Redundant phrase. You don’t need brief. Ex: For a brief moment, he was speechless. Better: For a moment, he was speechless.
  48. Brilliance – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: Not all posts achieve brilliance. Better: Not all posts are brilliant.
  49. Cameo appearance – Redundant phrase. You don’t need appearance. Ex: The actor’s cameo appearance caused a riot. Better: The actor’s cameo caused a riot.
  50. Care about – Flabby verb construction. Use value or like to save a word. Ex: Do your readers care about grammar? Better: Do your readers value grammar?
  51. Careful scrutiny – Redundant phrase. You don’t need careful. Ex: The lawyer read the document with careful scrutiny. Better: The lawyer read the document with scrutiny. Best: The lawyer scrutinized the document.
  52. Carelessness – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: Her carelessness caused his death. Better: He died because she was careless.
  53. Catch on – Flabby verb construction. Use resonate or spread. Ex: Hopefully the message will catch on. Better: Hopefully the message will spread.
  54. Caused a drop in X – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: Pay cuts caused a drop in morale within our company. Better: Pay cuts demoralized our company.
  55. Caused considerable confusion – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. In this case, use something more powerful, such as confused or baffled. Ex: The instructions caused considerable confusion in the class. Better: The instructions baffled the class.
  56. Cease and desist – Redundant phrase. You don’t need and desist. Ex: Cease and desist all contact with Mrs. Jones. Better: Cease all contact with Mrs. Jones.
  57. Close proximity – Redundant phrase. You don’t need close. Ex: The close proximity of the tourists caused the elephant to charge. Better: The proximity of the tourists caused the elephant to charge.
  58. Closed fist – Redundant phrase. You don’t need closed. Ex: He hit me with his closed fist. Better: He hit me with his fist.
  59. Commute back and forth – Redundant phrase. You don’t need back and forth. Ex: His commute back and forth exhausted him. Better: His commute exhausted him.
  60. Comparison – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: He made a comparison between apples and oranges. Better: He compared apples with oranges.
  61. Completely destroy – Redundant phrase. You don’t need completely. Ex: Joe completely destroyed his room. Better: Joe destroyed his room.
  62. Completely eliminate – Redundant phrase. You don’t need completely. Ex: You must completely eliminate your foes. Better: You must eliminate your foes.
  63. Completely engulfed – Redundant phrase. You don’t need completely. Ex: Flames completely engulfed the house. Better: Flames engulfed the house.
  64. Completely filled – Redundant phrase. You don’t need completely. Ex: He completely filled his cup. Better: He filled his cup.
  65. Connect together – Redundant phrase. You don’t need together. Ex: Connect together the two wires. Better: Connect the two wires.
  66. Could possibly – Redundant phrase. You don’t need possibly. Ex: You could possibly win. Better: You could win.
  67. Crisis situation – Redundant phrase. You don’t need situation. Ex: In a crisis situation try to relax and think clearly. Better: In a crisis try to relax and think clearly.
  68. Current trend – Redundant phrase. You don’t need current. Ex: Some say blogging is a current trend that won’t last. Better: Some say blogging is a trend that won’t last.
  69. Cut down on – Flabby Phrasal Verb. Use reduce or limit. Ex: You should cut down on your sugar intake. Better: You should limit your sugar intake.
  70. Decrease in strength – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: The Euro decreased in strength against the US Dollar. Better: The Euro weakened against the US Dollar.
  71. Definition – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: His definition of fun was sleeping and watching television. Better: He defined fun as sleeping and watching television.
  72. Depreciate in value – Redundant phrase. You don’t need in value. Ex: Assets depreciate in value as each year passes. Better: Assets depreciate as each year passes.
  73. Descend down – Redundant phrase. You don’t need down. Ex: Descend down the steps to exit the building. Better: Descend the steps to exit the building.
  74. Description – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: Please give a description of the man who attacked you. Better: Please describe the man who attacked you.
  75. Desirable benefit – Redundant phrase. You don’t need desirable. Ex: What desirable benefit does writing offer? Better: What benefit does writing offer?
  76. Did not have much confidence in – Avoid using negative constructions if possible. Readers don’t like when you tell them what something is not. They like when you tell them what something is. Use distrusted or doubted. Ex: The soldiers did not have much confidence in their officers. Better: The soldiers doubted their officers’ abilities.
  77. Did not pay attention to – Avoid using negative constructions if possible. Readers don’t like when you tell them what something is not. They like when you tell them what something is. Use ignored. Ex: The soldiers did not listen to their officers. Better: The soldiers ignored their officers’ orders.
  78. Did not remember – Avoid using negative constructions if possible. Readers don’t like when you tell them what something is not. They like when you tell them what something is. Use forgot. Ex: The soldiers did not remember their orders. Better: The soldiers forgot their orders.
  79. Different kinds – Redundant phrase. You don’t need different. Ex: The chart lists five different kinds of animals. Better: The chart lists five kinds of animals.
  80. Difficulty – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: I’m having difficulty with math. Better: Math is difficult for me. Best: I’m struggling with math.
  81. Due to – Clunky expression. Use because or revise. Ex: He got wet due to the rain. Better: He got wet because it rained. Best: The rain got him wet.
  82. Due to the fact that – Empty phrase. Delete or use because or since. Ex: Due to the fact that I write, I love books. Better: Because I write, I love books.
  83. During the course of – Redundant phrase. You don’t need the course of. Ex: The forecast will change during the course of the day. Better: The forecast will change during the day.
  84. Dwindle down – Redundant phrase. You don’t need down. Ex: She loved to shop, so her savings dwindled down. Better: She loved to shop, so her savings dwindled.
  85. Each and every – Redundant phrase. You don’t need and every. Ex: I loved each and every one of them. Better: I loved each one of them.
  86. Ease – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: He thinks editing is a task you can do with ease. Better: He thinks editing is easy.
  87. Eliminate altogether – Redundant phrase. You don’t need altogether. Ex: We should reduce or eliminate altogether speeding ticket fines. Better: We should reduce or eliminate speeding ticket fines.
  88. Eliminate entirely – Redundant phrase. You don’t need entirely. Ex: We could eliminate entirely testing and students would still learn. Better: We could eliminate testing and students would still learn.
  89. Emergency situation – Redundant phrase. You don’t need situation. Ex: We have an emergency situation at the school. Better: We have an emergency at the school.
  90. Empty out – Redundant phrase. You don’t need out. Ex: Empty out the dishwasher. Better: Empty the dishwasher.
  91. End result – Redundant phrase. You don’t need end. Ex: Study and the end results will please you. Better: Study and the results will please you.
  92. Encouragement – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: His encouragement helped my success. Better: He encouraged me and I succeeded.
  93. Enter in – Redundant phrase. You don’t need in. Ex: Enter in your name and email address. Better: Enter your name and email address.
  94. Equal to one another – Redundant phrase. You don’t need to one another. Ex: They are equal to one another in size, but Joe is faster. Better: They are equal in size, but Joe is faster.
  95. Eradicate completely – Redundant phrase. You don’t need completely. Ex: We must eradicate completely these roaches. Better: We must eradicate these roaches.
  96. Every single person - Redundant phrase. You don’t need single (unless referring to marital status). Ex: Every single person should attend. Better: Every person should attend. Or: Everyone should attend.
  97. Evolve over time – Redundant phrase. You don’t need over time. Ex: Relationships evolve over time. Better: Relationships evolve.
  98. Exact same – Redundant phrase. You don’t need exact. Ex: They spoke at the exact same time. Better: They spoke at the same time.
  99. Facilitate – Use simpler replacement, such as help, yield, or aid. Ex: Patience facilitates understanding. Better: Patience aids understanding.
  100. Facility – Stilted phrase. Say exactly what an object is (school, hospital, government building). Ex: The facility had a large cafeteria. Better: Johnson Elementary School had a large cafeteria.
  101. Factor – Dull, unnecessary word. Replace with a verb. Ex: Avid reading was a factor in his writing ability. Better: Avid reading helped his writing.
  102. Failure – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: His failure was caused by not studying hard enough. Better: He failed because he didn’t study hard enough.
  103. Fall/Fell down – Redundant phrase. You don’t need down. Ex: If you fall down, try again. Better: If you fall, try again.
  104. Favorable approval – Redundant phrase. You don’t need favorable. Ex: The drawings received favorable approval from the planning board. Better: The drawings received approval from the planning board. Best: The planning board approved the drawings.
  105. Fellow classmate – Redundant phrase. You don’t need fellow. Ex: A fellow classmate teased Johnny. Better: A classmate teased Johnny.
  106. Fellow colleague – Redundant phrase. You don’t need fellow. Ex: A fellow colleague saw Jim stealing the office supplies. Better: A colleague saw Jim stealing the office supplies.
  107. Few in number – Redundant phrase. You don’t need in number. Ex: First-time homebuyers are too few in number to absorb excess inventory. Better: First-time homebuyers are too few to absorb excess inventory.
  108. Figure out – Clunky verb construction. Use determine, guess, or decide. Ex: I can’t figure out who’s who. Better: I can’t determine who’s who.
  109. Filled to capacity – Redundant phrase. You don’t need to capacity. Ex: The stadium was filled to capacity with anxious fans. Better: The stadium was filled with anxious fans. Best: Anxious fans filled the stadium.
  110. Final conclusion – Redundant phrase. You don’t need final. Ex: He came to a final conclusion that he hated his job. Better: He came to a conclusion that he hated his job. Best: He concluded that he hated his job.
  111. Finally – Weak linking term. Be more precise. Ex: Finally, he got the job. Better: After five interviews, he got the job.
  112. Final outcome – Redundant phrase. You don’t need final. Ex: Death was the final outcome. Better: Death was the outcome.
  113. Final ultimatum – Redundant phrase. You don’t need final. Ex: I gave him a final ultimatum. Better: I gave him an ultimatum.
  114. Find out – Clunky verb construction. Use determine, or learn. Ex: Find out what matters and what doesn’t. Better: Learn what matters and what doesn’t.
  115. First and foremost – Redundant phrase. You don’t need first and. Ex: He remains first and foremost a businessman. Better: He remains foremost a businessman.
  116. First conceived – Redundant phrase. You don’t need first. Ex: He first conceived the idea to start a business while he was a freshman in college. Better: He conceived the idea to start a business while he was a freshman in college.
  117. First of all – Redundant phrase. You don’t need of all. Ex: First of all, I didn’t tell him your name. Better: First, I didn’t tell him your name.
  118. Fly/flew through the air – Redundant phrase. You don’t need through the air. Ex: The bird flew through the air above us. Better: The bird flew above us.
  119. For all intents and purposes – Empty phrase. Don’t use it. Ex: For all intents and purposes, the relationship was doomed. Better: The relationship was doomed.
  120. Foreign imports – Redundant phrase. You don’t need foreign. Ex: He believes foreign imports hurt our country’s economy. Better: He believes imports hurt our country’s economy.
  121. Former graduate – Redundant phrase. You don’t need former. Ex: She was a former graduate of Harvard. Better: She was a graduate of Harvard. Best: She was a Harvard graduate.
  122. For the most part – Empty phrase. Don’t use it. Ex: For the most part, I enjoy editing. Better: I enjoy editing.
  123. For the purpose of – Empty phrase. Don’t use. Ex: I practice yoga for the purpose of improving my posture. Better: I practice yoga to improve my posture.
  124. Former veteran – Redundant phrase. You don’t need former. Ex: Uncle Bob was a former veteran of Vietnam. Better: Uncle Bob was a veteran of Vietnam. Best: Uncle Bob was a Vietnam veteran.
  125. Free gift – Redundant phrase. You don’t need free. Ex: You get a free gift if you complete the survey. Better: You get a gift if you complete the survey.
  126. Frequently – Imprecise Phrase. Use something more specific. Ex: I frequently wash my car. Better: I wash my car daily.
  127. Frozen ice – Redundant phrase. You don’t need frozen. Ex: He fell through the frozen ice. Better: He fell through the ice.
  128. Frozen tundra – Redundant phrase. You don’t need frozen. Ex: The frozen tundra was stretched out before them. Better: The tundra was stretched out before them.
  129. Fuse together – Redundant phrase. You don’t need of together. Ex: Fuse together the wires and continue with the next step. Better: Fuse the wires and continue with the next step.
  130. Future plans – Redundant phrase. You don’t need future. Ex: What are your future plans for college? Better: What are your plans for college?
  131. Gather together – Redundant phrase. You don’t need together. Ex: Gather together your things and leave. Better: Gather your things and leave.
  132. General public – Redundant phrase. You don’t need general. Ex: The portable bathrooms are for the general public. Better: The portable bathrooms are for the public.
  133. Get – Weak verb. Cut it or use stronger verbs such as become, land, acquire, or retrieve. Ex: You need to get motivated. Better: Motivate yourself. Ex: How many clients did you get through blogging? Better: How many clients did you land through blogging?
  134. Get out of – Weak phrasal verb. Use exit. Ex: Get out of the building. Better: Exit the building.
  135. Give in – Weak phrasal verb. Use concede, or quit. Ex: Don’t give in. Better: Don’t quit.
  136. Go ahead and – Clunky expression. You don’t need it. Just start with the verb that follows this expression. Ex: I might have to go ahead and call the cops. Better: I might have to call the cops.
  137. Go back over – Clunky verb construction. Use reread, reexamine, or reevaluate. Ex: Let’s go back over the case files. Better: Let’s reexamine the case files.
  138. Go into – Clunky verb construction. Use enter; or visit, discuss, or explain. Ex: I will go into the school today. Better: I will visit the school today. Ex: I will go into detail about blogging during the lecture. Better: I will explain blogging during the lecture.
  139. Go on – Flabby verb construction. Use continue. Ex: I could go on quoting famous people, but I won’t. Better: I could continue quoting famous people, but I won’t.
  140. Grateful every day – Flabby phrase. Use eternally grateful. Ex: I’m grateful every day. Better: I’m eternally grateful.
  141. Grew/Grow/Grown in size – Redundant phrase. You don’t need in size. Ex: He grew in size since I last saw him. Better: He grew since I last saw him.
  142. Had a discussion concerning – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: We had a discussion concerning the proposed changes. Better: We discussed the proposed changes.
  143. Had/have a conversation (about) – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: We had a conversation about money. Better: We talked money.
  144. Harder than it has to be – Empty phrase. Use harder than necessary. Ex: You’re making it harder than it has to be. Better: You’re making it harder than necessary.
  145. Has/have to be – Clunky verb construction. Use must be. Ex: This has to be the right place. Better: This must be the right place. Ex: I have to be strong for her. Better: I must be strong for her.
  146. Have a need for – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: Do you have a need for me? Better: Do you need me?
  147. Heat up – Redundant phrase. You don’t need up. Ex: Heat up the soup. Better: Heat the soup.
  148. Helps keep – Clunky verb construction. Use keeps or another strong verb. Ex: Outlining helps keep your thoughts straight. Better: Outlining clarifies your thoughts.
  149. Here’s the thing – Colloquial expression. You can do without it.
  150. Hollow tube – Redundant phrase. You don’t need hollow. Ex: He slid down the hollow tube at the water park. Better: He slid down the tube at the water park.
  151. I feel (that) – Timid expression. If you believe something, just say it. Besides, you can’t “feel” an opinion. Ex: I feel that college isn’t that much fun. Better: College sucks!
  152. I believe (that) – Timid expression. If you believe something, just say it. Ex: I believe everyone should study music. Better: Everyone should study music.
  153. If you need to – Flabby if clause. Rework the sentence. Ex: If you need to get more clients, you need to market yourself properly. Better: Market yourself properly and you’ll gain more clients.
  154. If you want/wish/would like to – Flabby if clause. Rework the sentence. Ex: If you want to get good grades, listen to your teachers. Better: Listen to your teachers and you’ll get good grades.
  155. I might add – Flabby phrase. Delete it. Ex: I’m an excellent writer, I might add. Better: I’m an excellent writer.
  156. Increase in strength – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: You’ll see an increase in strength with exercise. Better: Exercise will strengthen your body.
  157. Individual – Whenever possible and appropriate, use a simpler replacement, such as man, woman, or person. Ex: If you’re the type of individual who likes adventure, skydiving is for you. Better: If you’re an adventurous person, skydiving is for you.
  158. Initial – Whenever possible and appropriate, use a simpler replacement, such as first. Ex: My initial thought was to flee. Better: My first thought was to flee.”
  159. Integrate with each other – Redundant phrase. You don’t need with each other. Ex: The two systems must integrate with each other to share data. Better: The two systems must integrate to share data.
  160. Intensity – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: She has a high level of intensity. Better: She is intense.
  161. Intention is – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: My intention is to sleep all day. Better: I intend to sleep all day.
  162. In terms of – Flabby phrase. Delete it. Ex: The job offer was tempting in terms of salary. Better: The job’s salary was tempting.
  163. In my opinion – Flabby phrase. Delete it. Ex: In my opinion, blogging rocks! Better: Blogging rocks!
  164. In order to – Redundant phrase. You don’t need in order. Ex: In order to succeed, you must work hard. Better: To succeed, you must work hard.
  165. In spite of that fact that – Flabby phrase. Use although. Ex: In spite of that fact that I’m rich, I don’t own a car. Better: Although I’m rich, I don’t own a car.
  166. In the event of – Flabby phrase. Use if. Ex: In the event of someone pointing a gun at you, don’t resist. Better: If someone points a gun at you, don’t resist.
  167. In the event that – Flabby phrase. Use if. Ex: In the event that you win, you’ll receive a trophy. Better: If you win, you’ll receive a trophy.
  168. In the process of – Flabby phrase. Delete it. Ex: I’m in the process of quitting my job. Better: I’m quitting my job.
  169. Introduced a new – Redundant phrase. You don’t need a new. Ex: They introduced a new software upgrade. Better: They introduced a software upgrade.
  170. Introduced for the first time – Redundant phrase. You don’t need for the first time. Ex: The new owners were introduced for the first time at the company meeting. Better: The new owners were introduced at the company meeting.
  171. Investigation -Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: My investigation led to solving the case. Better: I investigated and solved the case.
  172. Is aware of – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: He is aware of his bad reputation. Better: He knows his reputation stinks.
  173. Is in love with – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: He is in love with Judy. Better: He loves Judy.
  174. Is interesting to me – Weak to-be verb construction. Revise it. Ex: Editing is interesting to me. Better: Editing interests me.
  175. It is / it’s – Grammar expletive that robs your sentence of strength. Avoid it. Ex: It’s two hours before the game starts. Better: The game starts in two hours.
  176. It seems like – Flabby phrase & a grammar expletive. Delete it. Ex: It seems like you hate me. Better: Apparently you hate me.
  177. It would be – Grammar expletive that robs your sentence of strength. Avoid it. Ex: It would be polite if you said hi to her. Better: Be polite and say hi to her. Ex: It would be nice if we had more vacation time. Better: I wish we had more vacation time.
  178. Join together – Redundant phrase. You don’t need together. Ex: They join together as one. Better: They join as one.
  179. Joint collaboration – Redundant phrase. You don’t need joint. Ex: The joint collaboration between state and federal agencies failed. Better: The collaboration between state and federal agencies failed.
  180. Kneel down – Redundant phrase. You don’t need down. Ex: Kneel down before Zod. Better: Kneel before Zod.
  181. Knowledgeable expert – Redundant phrase. You don’t need knowledgeable. Ex: She’s a knowledgeable expert in her field. Better: She’s an expert in her field.
  182. Lacked the ability to – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences, such as wasn’t able to or couldn’t. Ex: He lacked the ability to read. Better: He couldn’t read.
  183. Later time – Redundant phrase. You don’t need time. Ex: Call me at a later time. Better: Call me later.
  184. Led to the destruction of – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: The fire led to the destruction of the town. Better: The fire destroyed the town.
  185. Lift up – Redundant phrase. You don’t need up. Ex: Lift up the weight. Better: Lift the weight.
  186. Live studio audience – Redundant phrase. You don’t need live. Ex: The band played to a live studio audience. Better: The band played to a studio audience.
  187. Made a decision to – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: He made a decision to leave. Better: He decided to leave.
  188. Made/make an announcement – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: He made an announcement that he was getting married. Better: He announced he was getting married.
  189. Made it to – Flabby phrase & a grammar expletive. Use arrived, or reached. Ex: They made it to their destination. Better: They reached their destination.
  190. Made out of – Redundant phrase. You don’t need out. Ex: It was made out of wood. Better: It was made of wood.
  191. Major breakthrough – Redundant phrase. You don’t need major. Ex: The invention was a major breakthrough in nuclear technology. Better: The invention was a breakthrough in nuclear technology.
  192. Major feat – Redundant phrase. You don’t need major. Ex: Bending horseshoes is a major feat of strength few can match. Better: Bending horseshoes is a feat of strength few can match.
  193. May/might possibly – Redundant phrase. You don’t need possibly. Ex: She may possibly get the job. Better: She may get the job.
  194. Meaningful – Weak adjective. Delete it or redo your sentence. Ex: It was a meaningful gesture. Better: The gesture touched me.
  195. Meet together – Redundant phrase. You don’t need together. Ex: The two roads meet together at the traffic circle. Better: The two roads meet at the traffic circle.
  196. Meet with each other – Redundant phrase. You don’t need with each other. Ex: We met with each other to discuss her offer. Better: We met to discuss her offer.
  197. Merge together – Redundant phrase. You don’t need together. Ex: Our companies should merge together. Better: Our companies should merge.
  198. Mix together – Redundant phrase. You don’t need together. Ex: Oil and water don’t mix together. Better: Oil and water don’t mix.
  199. Most unique – Redundant phrase. You don’t need most. Ex: His poetry is most unique. Better: His poetry is unique.
  200. Movement – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: My movement startled the cat. Better: I moved and startled the cat.
  201. Mutual cooperation – Redundant phrase. You don’t need mutual. Ex: We need mutual cooperation to succeed. Better: We need cooperation to succeed.
  202. Mutual respect for each other – Redundant phrase. You don’t need for each other. Ex: My father and I have mutual respect for each other. Better: My father and I have mutual respect. Or: My father and I respect each other.
  203. Need to do to - Clunky verb construction. Use need to or must do. Ex: That’s all you need to do to succeed. Better: That’s all you must do to succeed.
  204. Never before – Redundant phrase. You don’t need before. Ex: Never before have I been so offended. Better: Never have I been so offended.
  205. New innovation – Redundant phrase. You don’t need new. Ex: It was a new innovation to content marketing. Better: It was an innovation to content marketing.
  206. New invention – Redundant phrase. You don’t need new. Ex: The new invention would change the world. Better: The invention would change the world.
  207. None at all – Redundant phrase. You don’t need at all. Ex: None at all survived. Better: None survived.
  208. Not honest - Avoid using negative constructions if possible. Try to say what something is instead. Ex: He is not honest. Better: He’s dishonest.
  209. Not important - Avoid using negative constructions if possible. Try to say what something is instead. Ex: It’s not important. Better: It’s unimportant/trivial/minor.
  210. Now pending – Redundant phrase. You don’t need now. Ex: Our request is now pending. Better: Our request is pending.
  211. Off of – Redundant phrase. You don’t need of. Ex: Get your plate off of the counter. Better: Get your plate off the counter.
  212. Offered a suggestion – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: I offered a suggestion of a place to eat. Better: I suggested a place to eat.
  213. On a regular basis – Flabby phrase. Use regularly instead. Ex: I exercise on a regular basis. Better: I exercise regularly.
  214. Open up – Redundant phrase. You don’t need up (unless talking about someone revealing something to you). Ex: Open up the windows. Better: Open the windows.
  215. Originally created – Redundant phrase. You don’t need originally. Ex: Nobody truly knows when the world was originally created. Better: Nobody truly knows when the world was created.
  216. Outside in the yard – Redundant phrase. You don’t need outside. Ex: The kids are playing outside in the yard. Better: The kids are playing in the yard.
  217. Outside of – Redundant phrase. You don’t need of. Ex: He puked outside of the bar. Better: He puked outside the bar.
  218. Over exaggerate – Redundant phrase. You don’t need over. Ex: She tends to over exaggerate. Better: She tends to exaggerate.
  219. Palm of my hand – Redundant phrase. You don’t need of my hand. Ex: He placed the gun in the palm of my hand. Better: He placed the gun in my palm.
  220. Passing fad – Redundant phrase. You don’t need passing. Ex: Selfies are a passing fad. Better: Selfies are a fad.
  221. Past experience – Redundant phrase. You don’t need past. Ex: My past experiences are what made me who I am today. Better: My experiences are what made me who I am today.
  222. Penetrate into – Redundant phrase. You don’t need into. Ex: The bullet can easily penetrate into the wood. Better: The bullet can easily penetrate the wood.
  223. Period of time – Redundant phrase. You don’t need of time. Ex: Dinosaurs ruled during that period of time. Better: Dinosaurs ruled during that period.
  224. Personalfriend – Redundant phrase. You don’t need personal. Ex: He’s a personal friend of mine. Better: He’s a friend of mine.
  225. Personalopinion – Redundant phrase. You don’t need personal. Ex: It’s just my personal opinion. Better: It’s just my opinion.
  226. Pick and choose – Redundant phrase. You don’t need and choose. Ex: Pick and choose your friends wisely. Better: Pick your friends wisely.
  227. Pick out – Flabby phrase. Use choose instead. Ex: Pick out an outfit to wear. Better: Choose an outfit to wear.
  228. Pick up on – Flabby phrase. Use notice, or sense instead. Ex: He didn’t pick up on the subtle nuances. Better: He didn’t notice the subtle nuances.
  229. Play up – Flabby phrase. Use emphasize instead. Ex: You need to play up your best features. Better: You need to emphasize your best features.
  230. Plunge down – Redundant phrase. You don’t need down. Ex: The stock market plunged down today. Better: The stock market plunged today.
  231. Point out – Flabby phrase. Use emphasize, say, mention, or state instead. Ex: Let me point out the rules first. Better: Let me mention the rules first.
  232. Polar opposites – Redundant phrase. You don’t need polar. Ex: The two friends are polar opposites. Better: The two friends are opposites.
  233. Postpone until later – Redundant phrase. You don’t need until later. Ex: You should postpone your appointment until later. Better: You should postpone your appointment.
  234. Pouring down rain – Redundant phrase. You don’t need down. Ex: The pouring down rain ruined the picnic. Better: The pouring rain ruined the picnic.
  235. Preheat – Redundant phrase. You don’t need pre. Ex: Preheat the oven before you prepare your ingredients. Better: Heat the oven before you prepare your ingredients.
  236. Present time – Redundant phrase. You don’t need time. Ex: He’s not available at the present time. Better: He’s not available at present.
  237. Protest against – Redundant phrase. You don’t need against. Ex: You must protest against tyranny. Better: You must protest tyranny.
  238. Put off – Flabby phrase. Use postpone, delay, or stall instead. Ex: He put off his dentist appointment. Better: He postponed his dentist appointment.
  239. Put together – Flabby phrase. Use assemble, build, or built instead. Ex: They put together the child’s toy. Better: They assembled the child’s toy.
  240. Raise up – Redundant phrase. You don’t need up Ex: Raise up the flag. Better: Raise the flag.
  241. Reaction – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: My reaction caused everyone to be surprised. Better: The way I reacted surprised everyone.
  242. Really – Flabby modifier. Try to do without, or think of a more powerful word you are modifying. Ex: I’m really hungry. Better: I’m starving.
  243. Reason why – Redundant phrase. You don’t need why. Ex: I’ll never know the reason why she left. Better: I’ll never know the reason she left. Or: I’ll never know why she left.
  244. Refer back – Redundant phrase. You don’t need back. Ex: You’ll have to refer back to the instructions. Better: You’ll have to refer to the instructions.
  245. Refusal – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: His refusal to leave forced me to call the cops. Better: He refused to leave, so I called the cops.
  246. Reply back – Redundant phrase. You don’t need back. Ex: Reply back to this email to get the special offer. Better: Reply to this email to get the special offer.
  247. Resulted in a decrease (an increase) – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: The mandate resulted in an increase in taxes. Better: The mandate increased taxes.
  248. Revert back – Redundant phrase. You don’t need back. Ex: Revert back to the saved file if you experience problems. Better: Revert to the saved file if you experience problems.
  249. Safehaven – Redundant phrase. You don’t need safe. Ex: That area is a safe haven for smugglers. Better: That area is a haven for smugglers.
  250. Same exact – Redundant phrase. You don’t need exact. Ex: I have the same exact phone cover as you. Better: I have the same phone cover as you.
  251. Seriousdanger – Redundant phrase. You don’t need serious. Ex: You’re in serious danger. Better: You’re in danger.
  252. Shock – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: What he revealed caused a shock to his family. Better: What he revealed shocked his family.
  253. Short – Weak Adjective. Replace with something more precise. Ex: Bob was a short man. Better: Bob was four feet tall.
  254. Show up – Weak verb construction. Use appear, enter, visit, or arrive instead. Ex: If you show up early, call me. Better: If you arrive early, call me.
  255. Situation – Vague noun. Be more specific if possible. Ex: The situation got worse. Better: The riot got worse.
  256. Small – Weak Adjective. Replace with something more precise. Ex: My desk is small. Better: My desk is only three feet wide.
  257. So – Unnecessary intensifier. Delete. Ex: It was so delightful. Better: It was delightful.
  258. Spell it out in detail – Redundant phrase. You don’t need in detail. And you can use define, or explain instead. Ex: Did you spell it out in detail for him? Better: Did you spell it out for him? Or: Did you explain it to him?
  259. Spend - If this word is followed by an ing verb, modify your sentence. Ex: How many hours do you spend writing each day? Better: How many hours do you write each day?
  260. Start off/out – Redundant phrase. You don’t need off/out. Ex: Let me start off by saying thanks. Better: Let me start by saying thanks.
  261. Starts to – Redundant phrase. You don’t need to. Ex: If it starts to rain, close the window. Better: If it starts raining, close the window.
  262. Stillpersist – Redundant phrase. You don’t need still. Ex: If symptoms still persist, call your doctor. Better: If symptoms persist, call your doctor.
  263. Stillremains – Redundant phrase. You don’t need still. Ex: Even after all the bombing raids, the building still remains. Better: Even after all the bombing raids, the building remains.
  264. Suddenimpulse – Redundant phrase. You don’t need sudden. Ex: I had a sudden impulse for chocolate cake. Better: I had an impulse for chocolate cake.
  265. Surprise – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: Her actions were the cause of his surprise. Better: Her actions surprised him.
  266. Surrounded on all sides – Redundant phrase. You don’t need on all sides. Ex: They were surrounded on all sides by enemies. Better: They were surrounded by enemies. Or: Enemies surrounded them.
  267. The first step is to – Flabby phrase. Use first, or start by instead. Ex: The first step is to realize you have a problem. Better: Start by realizing you have a problem.
  268. Take alook at – Redundant phrase & Nominalization. You don’t need take a. Ex: Take a look at this photo. Better: Look at this photo.
  269. Take action (to) – Flabby verb construction. Use act instead. Ex: You must take action to resolve the matter now. Better: You must act to resolve the matter now.
  270. Takes up/Taking up – Flabby verb construction. Use consume instead. Ex: If blog chores take up too much of your time, outsource them. Better: If blog chores consume too much of your time, outsource them.
  271. Talk about – Flabby verb construction. Use discuss instead. Ex: Let’s talk about it. Better: Let’s discuss it.
  272. Tall – Weak Adjective. Replace with something more precise. Ex: The building is tall. Better: The building is six hundred feet tall.
  273. Temper tantrum – Redundant phrase. You don’t need temper. Ex: The kid is having a temper tantrum. Better: The kid is having a tantrum.
  274. The (most) important thing is to – Flabby expression. Delete it. Ex: The most important thing is to remain positive. Better: Remain positive.
  275. The reason – Flabby phrase. Delete it. Ex: The reason you hate me is because I’m beautiful. Better: You hate me because I’m beautiful.
  276. There’s / There is – Grammar expletive that robs your sentence of strength. Avoid it. Ex: There’s time to change your mind. Better: You have time to change your mind.
  277. There are / There were – Grammar expletive that robs your sentence of strength. Avoid it. Ex: There are some bloggers who seem to have all the luck. Better: Some bloggers seem to have all the luck.
  278. There will be – Grammar expletive that robs your sentence of strength. Avoid it. Ex: There will be some people who fail the class. Better: Some people will fail the class.
  279. This is a (insert noun here) that – Flabby construction. Use this (insert noun here). Ex: This is a subject that students love. Better: Students love this subject.
  280. Time and time again – Flabby phrase. Use repeatedly instead. Ex: You will see it time and time again. Better: You will see it repeatedly.
  281. Took up – Flabby phrase. Use consumed or occupied instead. Ex: It took up all my time and energy. Better: It consumed all my time and energy.
  282. Transformation – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). His transformation into an athlete caused shock among his peers. Ex: He transformed into an athlete and shocked his peers.
  283. Try to figure out – Flabby phrase. Use determine, guess or decide instead. Ex: Try to figure out what you want in life. Better: Decide what you want in life.
  284. Two equalhalves – Redundant phrase. You don’t need two equal. Ex: Cut the fruit in two equal halves. Better: Cut the fruit in halves.
  285. Utilize – Use simpler replacement, such as use. Ex: Utilize your time wisely. Better: Use your time wisely.
  286. Very – Flabby modifier. Use a stronger word that very is modifying. Ex: I was very scared. Better: I was petrified.
  287. Went back over – Flabby phrase. Use reread or reevaluated instead. Ex: They went back over the case files. Better: They reread the case files.
  288. When it comes to – Flabby phrase. Use when, with ordelete the phrase instead. Ex: When it comes to creating blog posts, you must choose headlines wisely. Better: When creating blog posts, you must choose headlines wisely. Best: Choose headlines wisely when you create a blog post.
  289. Which is – Flabby phrase you can live without. Ex: Chocolate, which is my favorite flavor, is also the name of my cat. Better: Chocolate, my favorite flavor, is also the name of my cat.
  290. Who is – Flabby phrase you can live without. Ex: His brother, who is a doctor, lives in Washington. Better: His brother, the doctor, lives in Washington.
  291. Will be different – Flabby to-be verb construction. Revise. Ex: Each instance will be different. Better: Each instance will differ.
  292. Within that time frame – Redundant phrase. You don’t need frame. Ex: You must sign the paperwork within that time frame. Better: You must sign the paperwork within that time.
  293. With reference to – Flabby phrase. Use regarding instead. Ex: With reference to what you said earlier, I don’t agree. Better: Regarding what you said earlier, I don’t agree.
  294. Write down – Redundant phrase. You don’t need down. Ex: Write down your name on this sheet of paper. Better: Write your name on this sheet of paper.
  295. You can – Flabby verb helpers. Delete or revise. Ex: You can visit Oz by following the Yellow Brick Road. Better: To visit Oz, follow the Yellow Brick Road.
  296. You’re going to – Flabby phrase. Use you’ll instead. Ex: You’re going to learn about writing in class today. Better: You’ll learn about writing in class today.
  297. You’re going to have/need to – Flabby phrase. Use you’ll have to, or you must instead. Ex: You’re going to need to exercise each day. Better: You’ll need to exercise each day.

It’s Time to Tone Flabby and Forgettable Writing

So there you have it – 297 flabby words and phrases you should banish from your writing today.

That’s nearly three hundred ways to tone and trim your prose.

But powerful though this list is, it won’t work if you simply read it and move on.

Just as cockroaches quickly reappear when lights go out, these words and phrases will soon creep back into your writing.

Unless you make it part of your editing process to find them.

So bookmark this post.

And next time you think you’re ready to click Publish, go back and weed out these subtle attention killers.

Your writing will be more powerful and your readers’ attention will soar.

About the Author: Shane Arthur copyedits for Jon Morrow’s kick-butt guest blogging program. If you appreciated this post, and you’d like to learn more literary mastery, join Jon’s guest blogging program today.
297 Flabby Words and Phrases That Rob Your Writing of All Its Power by

160 Comments

  1. Alexander
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 08:53:02

    Excellent. Helpful. Thanks.

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:11:26

      @Alexander: Sorry for the late reply. I got tied up yesterday. My pleasure.

      Reply

      • Sharon B
        Sep 03, 2014 @ 17:22:30

        @Shane. I hate to do it but I can’t help myself. “…. I got tied up yesterday. My pleasure.” Sounds like fun. Thanks for the great chuckle!

  2. Kevin Duncan
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 09:16:13

    Hi Shane,

    Wow! This is quite a list. I’m sad to say I use quite a few of these words in my writing.

    I’ve gotten better, thanks to pointers from Henneke at Enchanting Marketing, but it’s still a challenge removing all “filler” words from my writing.

    Great resource, Shane. Thanks!

    - Kevin

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:12:41

      @Kevin: My pleasure. The quest for perfection will never end. Besides, what fun would that be if we were perfect and didn’t have any challenges left? :)

      Reply

  3. Rafay Bin Ali
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 09:18:14

    Excellent post. However, I disagree with 2 and 3. This is because sometimes you need your writing to carry the emotions and the emphasis that go with a particular sentence. For example, saying Reading is essential for writing may not be verbally equivalent to Reading is absolutely essential for writing because the latter conveys more emotions and emphasis (body language that went with the sentence); that reading is the single most important determinant of quality and effective writing.

    So, sometimes “redundant” words are needed to convey emphasis which written speak can otherwise not convey as.

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 28, 2014 @ 09:36:58

      @Rafay (and everyone else): Feel free to disagree with any of these suggestions, as Language follows rules; it doesn’t follow orders. You know your audience better than any opinionated blog post ever could, so go with what you feel is best. :)

      Reply

      • Rafay Bin Ali
        Aug 28, 2014 @ 09:56:11

        Hi Shane, thanks for your reply. Perhaps, what I had intended to say was not that I disagree, but rather, to inquire about your thoughts on this. I have heard the advice to avoid redundancy in writing. Blog posts as well as books on managerial communication. However, then what would be the best way to convey the emphasis, emotion and the body language that goes with a particular sentence (other than using power words)? Thanks for your reply and advice.

      • Shane Arthur
        Aug 28, 2014 @ 10:05:23

        @Rafay: Colloquial phrases (even if redundant) do have their place in bonding with readers. Writing suggestions try to remove anything that would get in the way of the magic of writing. So, writers must decide what to agree with and what to disagree with — this writing thing is an art and a little bit of magic, after all (ever write something that appeared to write itself, and you’re smiling from ear to ear?). :)

      • Laurel Bern
        Aug 28, 2014 @ 13:12:48

        Hi Shane,

        Great post. My editor on wordpress does remind me of some of these, but I’m going to print out this list because I know that I’m guilty for using many of these! I have a few that always get my hackles up.
        1. “uber” (utterly pretentious) [I hope that it's alright to say "utterly"] :]
        2. “it begs the question” (does it?)
        and this one always gets my hackles up. Unfortunately, it’s become an extremely popular filler, both in oral and written speech.
        3. “having said that.” (We used to say, “however,”)
        There is also the common misuse of words, like “your” for “you’re” or saying women when you are referring to one woman. (or vice versa).

      • Claire Morris-Dobie
        Sep 08, 2014 @ 21:17:46

        Love the “Language follows rules; it doesn’t follow orders.” I printed it out in 36 point type and tacked it to my bulletin board!

  4. Lorenzo Grandi
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 09:18:43

    Overwhelming amount of information. Like a goldmine :)

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:15:10

      @Lorenzo (and Lauren): Haha! This post kicked my butt. I felt overwhelmed while creating it. Each time I thought I was done with it, I found a new entry that I had to add. And as you can see from Lauren’s comment, we may have to add more.

      Reply

      • Claire Morris-Dobie
        Aug 31, 2014 @ 11:44:55

        Hi Shane, j
        Just wondering why you used “done” in the sentence that reads “Each time I thought I was done…” I am always correcting my grandkids when they use “done” in this context because I was taught to use “finish” when speaking of a human action. “Done” applies to meat and baked goods, etc. Your thoughts?

      • Shane Arthur
        Aug 31, 2014 @ 12:25:15

        @Claire: I take liberties in the comments! But thanks for adding that to the list. ;)

        P.S. Love how you used your name in your URL.

  5. Krishnaputra Nivedat
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 09:20:36

    Nice! I’ll remember this when I write my next post.

    Reply

  6. Ash
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 09:22:55

    Wow there’s some serious flab in them there words. Thanks for sharing Mr Arthur. I feel considerably lighter after having looked at it!

    That’s going into my list of indispensable resources to write killer posts (right next to the 317 Power Words post)

    *Opens secret vault where he hides his best writing secrets … *

    :-)

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:16:54

      @Ash: Thanks. I”m also a big fan of that power words post. Write on!

      Reply

  7. Vasil
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 09:26:18

    Golden! Most helpful! Treasured.. Thank you.

    Reply

  8. Daryl
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 09:26:46

    No more major breakthroughs?

    No more foreign imports?

    Sometimes English makes me sad :(

    But I guess it’s time to lose the extra flab!

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:17:53

      @Daryl: English may make you sad, but it makes me mad (and I don’t mean angry)! :)

      Reply

    • Tena Dupree
      Sep 03, 2014 @ 15:47:34

      The foreign import thing made think, “Is there any other kind?” lol

      Reply

  9. Casey
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 09:29:42

    Love this and it reminds me of Stephen King’s advice from On Writing, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”

    Reply

    • Peter Kanayo
      Aug 28, 2014 @ 12:06:34

      Casey, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs”… awesome quote.. Am going to steal this. Thanks..

      As for you Shane, you are a dynamite… GOSH i need to kill these words dead

      Reply

      • Shane Arthur
        Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:18:20

        @Peter: You’re welcome. Write on!

  10. 297 Flabby Words and Phrases That Rob Your Writ...
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 09:31:47

    […] Ever worry that your writing lacks power? Did you know that certain words and phrases can weaken your writing without you realizing? Learn which ones here.  […]

    Reply

  11. Amandah
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 09:33:22

    Shane,

    That’s a long list of flabby words to cut out o your writing. :)

    I copied and pasted your post into my Evernote.

    Great reference!

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:19:05

      @Amandah: Thanks. How have you been? Haven’t seen you in quite some time.

      Reply

      • Amandah
        Aug 29, 2014 @ 08:19:42

        Hi Shane,

        I’ve been in a funk (and blogging slump) lately and have stayed off of the radar. :)

        I’m feeling burned out with what I’m doing because I’ve put a lot of time, effort and money into it and don’t have the success I thought or was told I would have. Every day I question if it’s time for me to do something else. What that is, I don’t know. I may have an idea, but I get stuck on “What does it look like?” and “How can I do this?” :/

        I’m on another soul searching journey. o.O

  12. Mark @ NinjaOutreach
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 09:40:53

    Some very useful insights how did you work out that’s these words have such a negative effect on our readers?

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 28, 2014 @ 09:49:16

      Three years ago, I decided to compile a list of writing tips I’ve read on various sites. The tips that fascinated me the most were the examples of redundant phrases. That branched off into other examples of words and phrases that (again, in my opinion) were clunky. I believe that if you can say something using one word as opposed to three words, you may as well go with the simpler version to satisfy readers who are busier and less patient than ever.

      Reply

      • Tina Nelson
        Aug 28, 2014 @ 13:38:15

        … LOVE the list!

        Ex: I believe that if you can say something using one word as opposed to three words, etc. Better: If you can say something using one word as opposed to three words, etc.

        Your teaching style is sneaky, and obviously effective :)

      • Shane Arthur
        Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:19:41

        @Tina: Got me! ;)

  13. Angela
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 09:41:33

    Filing it away for reference. Thanks!

    Reply

  14. Cathy Miller
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 09:46:25

    Who’s the wordslayer now? ;-)

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 28, 2014 @ 09:51:16

      Speaking of the three years I took compiling this list, I’ve been waiting for three years for you to write that crime novel.

      Reply

  15. Sophie Lizard
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 09:53:52

    Oh hell yes. Putting this on the resource list for my freelance blogging students. :)

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:20:24

      @Sophie: I can never get too many “Oh hell yes” comments. :)

      Reply

  16. John Miller
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 09:54:00

    #17 Best: “We should arrive tonight.”

    Reply

  17. Jenni & Jody
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 10:00:52

    I don’t think we have ever bookmarked a specific blog post…until today. We will SURELY return to it again and again. We even plan to use it to help our teens with their writing too. Thank you!

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:22:17

      @Jenni & Jody: So glad this will become a resource for teens. I wish I had something like this back in my teens.

      Reply

  18. Stacy Claflin
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 10:01:21

    This is a fantastic list. Thanks so much for taking the time to compile and share. I’m going to refer to this a lot. In my fiction writing, I’m always on the lookout for ways to tighten my writing. So many great ideas here.

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:23:05

      @Stacy: My pleasure. This post was a beast, but I’m glad it’s finally out in the wild.

      Reply

  19. Susan B. Bentley
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 10:02:35

    Fantastic list! My editor brain wants to hug this list :-)

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:24:05

      @Susan: I’ve been cursing this list for several years, so that hug will be just what it needs. ;)

      Reply

  20. Lesly Federici
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 10:15:59

    Oh dear .. what a list! I’ll need my thesaurus now! Thank you :-)

    Reply

  21. Susan
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 10:18:18

    Shane,

    First you rock in the guest blog forum!

    What a wonderful list to share for writing & getting yourself to be taken seriously.

    Susan

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:25:22

      @Susan: Thank you for those kind words. Truly appreciated.

      Reply

  22. Pooja
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 10:18:26

    Shane,

    Superb list! Thank you for creating a go-to resource. Bookmarking it!

    And here are few more of my pet-peeves:

    “Literally”
    “Very/pretty unique”
    “Reason… Because”

    Sometimes bloggers (myself included) forget that although it is OK to be conversational, it doesn’t mean you have to stuff words.

    Thanks for the share!

    Tweeting it out in a bit. :-)

    Pooja

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:26:29

      @Pooja: You’re welcome. Those are good additions to this list.

      Thank you.

      Reply

  23. tam francis
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 10:20:16

    What a great list. I’ve got a few to work on, but not bad. Going to get my “find” and look for them. I think it was Hemingway that said replace every “very” with the word damn. If it works you can keep the “very.”

    The only caveat I would add, would be when writing dialogue. Realistic dialogue sounds stilted if we don’t write the way we speak, and we use a bit of redundancies when we speak :)

    GREAT list. Thanks Jon!

    Reply

    • peachfront
      Aug 28, 2014 @ 10:53:18

      Yeah, Hemingway or some other old dead dude since people don’t say “damn” anymore. Damn never sounds right in contemporary conversation. It’s either “very” or something way less polite, ha ha.

      And I agree 100% with your caveat about dialogue. There is no conversational dialogue without redundancies.

      Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:27:31

      @Tam: I agree about fiction. The rule book goes out the window with dialogue. :)

      Reply

    • Robert Kenney
      Sep 15, 2014 @ 11:56:38

      I believe you are referring to something William Allen White, a famous newspaper editor of the early 20th century, is reported to have said: “Never use the word, ‘very.’ It is the weakest word in the English language; doesn’t mean anything. If you feel the urge of ‘very’ coming on, just write the word, ‘damn,’ in the place of ‘very.’ The editor will strike out the word, ‘damn,’ and you will have a good sentence.” This quote is wrongly attributed to Mark Twain all over the Internet.

      Reply

  24. Maureen O'Danu
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 10:24:07

    Great list. Might I suggest “one of the only” as a phrase to avoid. Only is a superlative. It cannot be modified. Try “one of the few” instead.

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:28:35

      @Maureen: Suggest away! I”m adding to my file each day. Thank you.

      Reply

    • Claire Morris-Dobie
      Sep 01, 2014 @ 16:27:05

      To Maureen O’Danu, the “one of only” example is great. How often we probably use that one, right? Stellar!

      Reply

  25. Laurence
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 10:39:06

    Reminders help. Thanks. Number 204 has a cloned “been so”.

    Reply

  26. Eme
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 10:47:20

    Wow… I am guilty of many of the nominalisation examples.

    Thanks for a great resource.

    My love for writing started when I worked in a company that I was the designated letter writer to angry customers. I guess I must have got into the habit of making writing as wordy and explain-ey as possible. I now see I picked up some bad habits. Great to have this kind of resource I tell ya.
    Thanks again!

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:30:44

      @Eme: My pleasure. My love of language started in seventh grade when my father bought me the book The Little, Brown Handbook. Still have that book today.

      Reply

  27. Winifred Reilly
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 11:05:56

    Great list. My father was an editor at McGraw-Hill. His favorite was, “repeat it again.” Better still, “repeat it again one more time.”

    I must hand it to you for the cockroach reference. No flabby writing there!

    Thanks!

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:32:29

      @Winifred: That such a great story. I bet writing term papers in school was different for you, huh? Did you get a ton of red ink on your papers from your Dad? What a great resource to have!

      Reply

  28. Casey Hibbard
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 11:35:09

    GREAT list, Jon. Thanks for taking the time to put it together.

    Reply

  29. Robert van Tongeren
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 11:36:08

    Honestly, just the other day I was thinking, ” I wonder when Shane’s gonna post that epic list of flabby words he promised…”

    And here it is, and it’s epic indeed :)

    I think I already avoid most of these, but I’m definitely adding some new ones to my checklist.

    One question though…

    Someone — don’t remember who — once told me it’s better to use ” discover” rather than “learn”, because nobody likes learning. So I wondered if “discover” might be an even better substitute for “find out”. Thoughts?

    (Gotta admit though, the guy who told me this was kinda nutty ;) )

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:34:48

      @Robert: I’m glad I wasn’t drinking coffee when I read that last sentence. Laughed aloud quite hard on that one. Thank you. Keep up the great work with the guestblogging course.

      Reply

  30. Michael Blumfield
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 11:51:42

    Good list overall, but I’m perplexed by your choice of “approximately” instead of “about.” To me that’s no different than favoring “utilize” instead of “use,” and you admonish that choice in item #285. More broadly, this list itself is flabby in that it doesn’t precisely make the point. Some of the examples are indeed flabby phrases, such as “in order to” and “in spite of the fact that,” but many of them are just mindlessly repetitive expressions (“armed gunman”) or grammatical errors (“off of.”) Nonetheless, you’ve succeeded in raising awareness of weak writing, so I commend you for that.

    Reply

  31. Shane Arthur
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 12:12:29

    @Michael: I understand your point regarding #1. I believe I found that one on a page listing advice for fiction writing, but I can’t specifically remember where right now. And now that you mention it, I have to revisit that one and review why “approximately” was listed as a better choice. I agree with the being more specific part though).

    And, yes, some of these points will carry more weight than others (how often will we be writing about gunmen anyhow, right?) :) Thanks.

    Reply

  32. John Williams
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 12:17:41

    Never fails to amaze me how lazy some writing is even by the most popular bloggers. My favorite is “very.” Editing teacher said if you’re not willing to use damned in the text, then you shouldn’t use very. One that irks me most is the use of over when more than is meant. This is not on the list but should be added. John Bremner’s Word on Words is a great resource for these kinds of rules and suggestions.

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:36:06

      @John: I’m not a big fan of very either. I’ve never heard of John Bremner, so thank you for that resource.

      Reply

  33. Zara
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 12:35:15

    Thank you and well done, Shane.

    I’m rather partial to a flabby word of two – they go with my flabby mind and body – but I shall try to be strict and lean in the future, striking down intruders when I edit if not when I write.

    Thanks for the, oh so useful, reminder.

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:36:56

      @Zara: You’re welcome. (And thank you. You made me laugh.)

      Reply

  34. Greg Butler
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 13:00:54

    You can add “Hopefully” to the list. We don’t know who is hoping. Better to say, “I hope,” and it’s two syllables instead of three.

    But your list is great!

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:37:59

      @Greg: Thank you for that one. My list may never be complete. :)

      Reply

  35. Gwen Hill
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 13:04:23

    Love, love, love this list! (is that flabby enough for you?)

    The most important thing in this article—oops! Strike that.

    “Just as cockroaches quickly reappear when lights go out, these words and phrases will soon creep back into your writing.”

    Your list will be a standard part of my editing routine.

    Thanks!

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:39:01

      @Gwen: I have the talented Glen Long to thank for adding that phrase. :)

      Reply

  36. Dave Hughes
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 13:51:14

    Hi Shane,

    Thank you for the excellent list. I’m not surprised that it took three years to compile this many tips. We see (and use) so many of them in our everyday speaking and writing that it’s hard to spot them.

    I have only one quibble. I think “is in love with” and “loves” have different meanings. “In love with” implies a special love for someone with whom you are, or wish to be, in a serious relationship, whereas “love” can be felt for many people you care deeply about. I love my spouse, parents, siblings, and many close friends. I am in love with only my husband.

    “I love my boss” most likely means that you really enjoy working for this person, whereas “I’m in love with my boss” will probably result in an HR situation.

    Thanks again for the excellent post!

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:41:00

      @Dave: Thank you. I’ll have to stew on that one a bit. May need to adjust. (Which I don’t mind doing. My list actually had 390 items, but I felt some weren’t strong enough. So I don’t mind cutting entries if need be.)

      Reply

  37. Esther Litchfield-Fink
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 13:55:28

    Shane what an awesome post and list. It’s great having a bit of insight into the magical way you seemed to edit my guest posts in Jon’s guest blogging course and make them amazing. I will print and bookmark!

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:42:01

      @Esther: You’re making me blush. Seriously, thank you. I love the program.

      Reply

  38. Rich
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 14:35:29

    Great post! I saw a lot of things I was doing wrong :D. Ouch, but thanks anyways!

    Reply

  39. Roxana D.
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 14:40:21

    I’m an English writing consultant-educator (for post-secondary students) and workshop presenter (for adult professionals), and I oft remind students and clients that they sound downright silly when they use phrases such as “end result” (I wonder what a “beginning result” would look like?) and many of the “padded” phrases Jon offers here. An especially ridiculous phrasing (I must add) worms its way into sentences that make even semi-educated folks cringe: “I thought to myself.” (I usually circle the “to myself,” and ask–in the margin of their written work–”as opposed to?”) Gosh. Unless the writer is in a sci-film (for example), who ELSE would a person think…TO? Yes: Silly. Absurd. —>Thanks, Jon, for reminding your readers about the padding that adds no meaning to English sentences–and how verbs function in English. I’ll send many clients to your blog. ~Roxana

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:43:45

      @Roxana: You had me smiling at those examples. Thanks.

      Reply

  40. Ammar Elahi
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 14:43:17

    Wow great list! I have to say that I am guilty of using many of these words in the past but I will try my best to avoid them in the future. Thanks!

    Reply

  41. Keyur Lalani
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 15:07:53

    Shane,

    Awesome post and list. Many thingd to learn form your post. I will print and bookmark! Your list will be a standard part of my editing routine.Again thankd you so much for a wonderful post :)

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:44:40

      @Keyur: You”re welcome. Glad you liked it.

      Reply

  42. Susan DeRemer
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 17:02:34

    Beyond blogs, these are great tips for online grant proposals that have word limits and need express lots of information.

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:46:02

      @Susan: Yes, several blog posts here are wonderful resources for writing. I still study them often.

      Reply

  43. Marketing Day: Authorship's Over, Instagram's Down & People Trust Google More Than The Government
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 17:09:07

    […] 297 Flabby Words and Phrases That Rob Your Writing of All Its Power, boostblogtraffic.com […]

    Reply

  44. Marketing Day: Authorship’s Over, Instagram’s Down & People Trust Google More Than The Government | Advertised Free
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 18:37:10

    […] 297 Flabby Words and Phrases That Rob Your Writing of All Its Power, boostblogtraffic.com […]

    Reply

  45. Faith Watson
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 19:14:17

    One more to add: You’ve got or you have got, as in “You’ve got a special smile.” Get rid of the got. “You have a special smile.” I’m not sure why we sneak that in there if the first place.

    Maybe we should get rid of in the first place, too. I’m not sure why we sneak that in there. ;-)

    There were a could I might disagree with on the list, depending on the usage and our voice. We need to keep a bit of style to express ourselves. If you’re more of a Hemmingway or journalist, great, but the world still need a few Faulkners and Rushdies. I know blogs can’t be effusive novels, but I do like conversational prose.

    So I’m okay with a few extra words if they sound authentic. His transformation (as he preheats the oven?) isn’t going to rob anyone’s writing of all its power, in my opinion. On that note, we might have left “all its” out of this post’s headline to tighten it up a bit. :-) But it’s not a deal breaker… it’s a really great list!

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:47:57

      @Faith: Thank you for that thorough comment. And thank you for the suggestions too.

      Reply

  46. Faith Watson
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 19:19:10

    ack riddled with typos… I wish we could edit our comments! Sorry about that, I’m typing on the fly.

    Reply

  47. Sonia
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 20:15:50

    Wow. Thank you! Amazing and miraculous post! :-)

    Reply

  48. David Gillaspie
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 22:16:41

    Love these lists. It’s like the do-not-use words for screenwriting.

    One of my favorites, ‘Centered around,’ always makes me laugh.

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:49:13

      @David: Glad you liked it. And thanks for the suggestion.

      Reply

    • Claire Morris-Dobie
      Aug 31, 2014 @ 12:02:57

      “The reason why” is the one that makes me cringe. I hear TV and radio “journalists” use it all the time and I want to slap them vigorously around the face! Walter Cronkite would never have made this blunder. These passive media are a primary source of info for those who don’t want to or don’t have time to read, and sadly, if people hear it on TV, then it must be right! Right?

      Reply

  49. Marketing Day: Authorship’s Over, Instagram’s Down & People Trust Google More Than The Government
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 23:35:34

    […] 297 Flabby Words and Phrases That Rob Your Writing of All Its Power, boostblogtraffic.com […]

    Reply

  50. The Weekly Optimiser - Zen Optimise
    Aug 29, 2014 @ 03:33:05

    […] #5: BoostBlogTraffic: 297 Flabby Words and Phrases That Rob Your Writing of All Its Power […]

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  51. Bryan Collins
    Aug 29, 2014 @ 05:29:58

    Great list Share. Bookmarked.

    Reply

  52. Jim Harden
    Aug 29, 2014 @ 10:47:23

    I am a fan. Great tutorial!
    Re: Edit until your words are crisdp and clear. Good advice
    I want to print it out. I cannot read what I print out.
    I have a good Canon printer and good eyesight.
    I suggest updating print set upfeatures to allow this on printed pages.
    Please.

    Reply

  53. 297 Flabby Words and Phrases — and a grain of salt | John L. Monk
    Aug 29, 2014 @ 12:55:46

    […] saw this linked-to on Kboards. It’s a list of words and phrases guaranteed to rob your writing of its […]

    Reply

  54. Marketing Day: Authorship’s Over, Instagram’s Down & People Trust Google More Than The Government | CABizNews.com
    Aug 29, 2014 @ 14:37:02

    […] 297 Flabby Words and Phrases That Rob Your Writing of All Its Power, boostblogtraffic.com […]

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  55. Christian Newman
    Aug 29, 2014 @ 19:17:45

    Guilty. Not guilty. Guilty. Not guilty.

    I wish I could install an app on my MacBook that would make some obnoxious noise every time I typed one of these words/phrases.

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 31, 2014 @ 10:27:03

      @Christian: I paid someone many moons ago to write a MS Word macro for me that found and highlighted all these words. It was neat, but as new versions of Word came out, the marco didn’t work correctly any longer, and my computer crashed anyhow, so I forgot about it. I’ll pass on the idea.

      Reply

  56. Firas
    Aug 29, 2014 @ 19:28:01

    “The vast majority” gets to me. You hear it on the news frequently.

    Reply

  57. Michelle Hutchinson
    Aug 30, 2014 @ 10:15:28

    Excellent tips for my clients, Shane, but do you have only one reader? That’s what you imply in the following sentence: “It’s a never-ending battle for your reader’s attention.” The plural possessive, i.e., readers’, would have been the correct word. ;-) Even great writers need editors and proofreaders.

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 31, 2014 @ 10:28:35

      @Michelle: Will adjust shortly. Thank you kindly. I try to remove all instances of this, so I’m surprised I didn’t see this one. :)

      Reply

    • Claire Morris-Dobie
      Aug 31, 2014 @ 11:56:46

      Good catch. So difficult to proof your own writing.

      Reply

  58. Alan
    Aug 30, 2014 @ 10:32:17

    One differentiates between the single-season home run record (73) and the all-time hime run record (765).

    Reply

    • Alan
      Aug 30, 2014 @ 10:33:50

      I suppose one could call it the career record.

      Reply

  59. Kostas Chiotis
    Aug 30, 2014 @ 11:56:36

    Excellent list Shane, one for the resources file!

    Reply

  60. Debra
    Aug 30, 2014 @ 13:24:14

    I love this list, but it totally overwhelms me. I can’t think of any practical way I can use the list without spending hours reviewing every article I write. I wish there was a software that would automatically review my written material, and flag these phrases for me. (Hint: can someone create this for us?)

    Reply

  61. Tim Bonner
    Aug 30, 2014 @ 16:10:27

    Less is often more Shane and you just proved a point!

    I reckon I use a lot of the flabby words and phrases so this post is going right to the top of my bookmarks. I’ve started using the Hemingway app which has helped to eliminate some of them but it’s always good to have a huge list like this one to refer to.

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 31, 2014 @ 10:29:38

      @Tim: I’ve heard of that app. Never tried it, but I’ll look into it. Thanks.

      Reply

  62. RichardJoe
    Aug 31, 2014 @ 03:29:21

    Wonderful piece of information.Its very helpful for me.

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Aug 31, 2014 @ 10:30:00

      @RichardJoe: That’s what I love to hear!

      Reply

  63. SOL Train Learning
    Aug 31, 2014 @ 10:58:27

    I have a question regarding your admonition of the phrase “added bonus.” Would it be alright to use this term when referring to an actual added bonus? For example, “Sharon enjoyed her prize vacations every year, but her pay raise this year was an added bonus.” Would it be better to use the word “extra” or would “added” be alright in this instance? Thank you! Love your tips.

    Reply

    • Claire Morris-Dobie
      Sep 02, 2014 @ 19:27:57

      Hi SOL Train Learning,

      I’ll be waiting to see what Shane says about this one. I respect his opinion and style. This list he’s given us is like a mini-Bible for grammarians. But I get where you’re going with this question since the vacation could be considered a type of bonus which makes the pay raise an “added bonus.” I don’t know. I think you could take some creative license here.

      Shane?

      Reply

      • Shane Arthur
        Sep 02, 2014 @ 19:40:45

        My favorite quote applies here too. Language follows rules; it doesn’t follow orders. One could argue either way here, but I’d use “unexpected bonus.” You could even say “icing on the cake.” But you know better than an opinionated blog post what is best for your readers. ;)

  64. Claire Morris-Dobie
    Aug 31, 2014 @ 11:51:34

    I tweeted (@morricles) and G+d this article. Great stuff!

    Reply

  65. Fabienne Raphael
    Aug 31, 2014 @ 11:51:47

    Wow Shane! Brilliant! This list will be a part of my editing process, for sure!

    Reading this post and also reading other books on writing made me realize this: too often, we use many words to express the simplest thing.

    And writing with less words, but more accurate ones, makes the message clearer for us, and for our readers!

    Thanks so much Shane!

    Reply

  66. Alan
    Aug 31, 2014 @ 23:18:15

    The use of “momentarily” by US newsreaders mystifies overseas viewers. Eg,
    “We’ll be back momentarily”. If only! What they mean is “we’ll be back with you in a moment”, not they’ll be back for a split second only.
    Also, as the language usage becomes more dumbed down each year, meanings change so that the wrong meaning rapidly becomes the new (right) meaning.
    Eg. “begs the question” now means “requires you to ask the question the newscaster is about to say” whereas it originally meant that it “beggared” the original question, that is, nullified or made it irrelevant or redundant (made it poorer).
    “Awesome” and “weird” underwent transitions in that their current usage has robbed the of their original power, thereby permitting them to be used as descriptions for events or things that are decidely un-awesome or un-weird.

    Reply

  67. Zara
    Sep 01, 2014 @ 02:39:54

    Language is dynamic and evolves in response to our struggles, playfulness and aspirations to articulate complexity.
    Sometimes we are flabby and get things muddled but then we are all flawed. We learn from our little language misdemeanours but as long as our aim is the courtesy of communicating as clearly as we can to others, then we can continue without becoming so inhibited that we dare not reach out at all.
    I shall continue to babble to the world, undoubtedly being flabby but knowing that there are many friends out there who will kindly correct me because they are motivated by a wish for me to be the best that I can.
    Thank you everyone for your contributions.

    Reply

    • Claire Morris-Dobie
      Sep 02, 2014 @ 18:51:11

      Oh Zara, I love what you have to say here. It puts a smile on my face because it’s so true. I wish more people would just “care” about what they say and how they use words. I wish they were more open to a constructive critique.

      My mother-in-law used to use two words that drove me nuts: ironical and irregardless. After my husband and his sisters and I all corrected her as diplomatically as possible for many years, we finally gave up after she kept saying “I know but that’s how I learned it and that’s how I like to say it.”

      I too, will continue to babble–flawed though I may be–and know that friends will correct me and that I’m not as perfect as I would like to be.

      Now, I must move down one post and ask Clemence a few sumpin-sumpins (contrived and colloquial; don’t slap me) because I have never used the word “concision” the way he has.

      Keep babbling!

      Claire

      Reply

      • Zara
        Sep 03, 2014 @ 14:00:00

        My dear babbling-twin, Claire, Thank you! And thanks to your mother-in-law, my late mum, George W. and other courageous souls who negotiate the minefield that is English, stake their very individual claims, jiggle our puritanical buttons and thus enliven our lives. (P.S. I was eating breakfast when I read your responses to Clemence. I was doing all right until I got to “circumcision” – my jaw dropped so low that my fork lost its way to my mouth. At least I woke up!) Kindest regards, twin.

    • Shane Arthur
      Sep 02, 2014 @ 19:43:41

      @Zara and Alan: Language is awesome, isn’t it? A site I love to read is grammarphobia.com. It’s a wonderful site for language lovers and writers.

      Reply

  68. Clemence
    Sep 02, 2014 @ 04:41:52

    Interesting, and some food for thought. However, good writing is all about concision of phrase. A competant editor and writer would do this instinctively and would not need a checklist. It’s like expecting a doctor to talk to their patient with a distracting textbook in one hand. Hardly inspires confidence in their ability.

    Reply

    • Claire Morris-Dobie
      Sep 02, 2014 @ 19:19:51

      Hey there Clemence,
      I had to look up “concision” because I thought it was archaic and haven’t seen it except in Ye Olde English. But dictionary.com does list it as a noun meaning “quality, brevity..” However, the #2 definition is “archaic for “a cutting up or off; mutilation” which then gives the use of the word in your context, the opposite effect. Concision of phrase=mutilation of phrase.

      I also wanted to pass along the following info, also from dictionary.com. Not at all what I expected but I thought I’d share:

      Gr. katatome; i.e., “mutilation”), a term used by Paul contemptuously of those who were zealots for circumcision (Phil. 3:2). Instead of the warning, “Beware of the circumcision” (peritome) i.e., of the party who pressed on Gentile converts the necessity of observing that ordinance, he says, “Beware of the concision.”

      I’m a sucker for etymology, so….

      By the way, in keeping with the constructive critique I described to Zara above, I wonder why your spell check did not catch the word “competant” which should be “competent.” So maybe a competent writer/editor DOES indeed, need a checklist.

      Your last sentence references “their ability” but I would use “his” ability since the ability refers to a single doctor. To others reading this, what’s your opinion? Getting too picky? I do that a lot! (I refuse to write the word “alot.”)

      That’s all for now.

      Blabberingly yours,
      Claire

      Reply

      • Shane Arthur
        Sep 02, 2014 @ 19:45:03

        Yeah, what Claire said! ;)

      • Clemence
        Sep 03, 2014 @ 03:49:48

        Thanks, Claire – what a thoughtful dissection of my comments! Concision of phrase did indeed mean brevity in that particular context. And I actually think that archaic words can sometimes be rather wonderful to use, so will take that as a compliment.

        I would never rely on a spell check to catch errors, but it just goes to show that a usually competent editor does have off days (unforgivable as that was! I blame myself entirely, you’ll be pleased to hear). I prefer to make statements gender neutral, though I do agree it is not ideal, ‘their’ is at least preferable to the clumsy ‘his/her’. I would not say ‘his’ for a doctor, as that’s as presumptuous as saying ‘she’ for a nurse. Anyway, thanks for responding and for keeping me on my toes (I’m a she, by the way!).

      • Claire Morris-Dobie
        Sep 03, 2014 @ 20:06:32

        All of you posting here are so creative and sometimes, really funny. I am enjoying being a part of this group. Just wanted to say thanks for your input and keep writing. Zara, a special shout out to you, your mum and Dubya! And Clemence, I love your name and my apologies for the gender goof. Peace and love!

  69. Tim Mossholder
    Sep 02, 2014 @ 14:36:05

    Great list! I’m surprised the word “that” didn’t make the list. I find myself constantly overusing it. Ex. I’m surprised that the word “that” didn’t make the list. Nuff said!

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Sep 05, 2014 @ 15:15:25

      @Tim: My pleasure. And that you for your suggestion.

      Reply

  70. Kristen Poborsky
    Sep 02, 2014 @ 21:01:00

    Okay I loved the 297 phrases & words that I should not be using in my writing. I take my writing seriously on my blog so this list will come in handy. Thank goodness for print friendly printer and pdf creator app because now I have this great list in a pdf, printed and by my side as I write my next blog post.

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Sep 05, 2014 @ 15:16:14

      @Kristen: That’s a good idea. Perhaps we’ll create a pdf out of this so everyone can use it too.

      Reply

  71. Vlad
    Sep 03, 2014 @ 11:01:03

    Excellent. Helpful. Thanks.

    Reply

  72. Arijit
    Sep 04, 2014 @ 22:04:09

    Always great to see a guest post from you Shane! As usual you have hit the ball out of the park. I will wait for your next one!

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Sep 05, 2014 @ 15:17:14

      @Arijit: Thank you. The next monster list post may be a few years coming! :)

      Reply

  73. Leanne Regalla
    Sep 05, 2014 @ 05:06:37

    Shane, thanks so much for this! I didn’t have a chance to read it last week, I’m so glad I came back to it now. Excellent! :)
    Will keep it handy to read through. Each time a few more of these should stick in my brain.

    Reply

  74. otherdeb
    Sep 05, 2014 @ 15:02:35

    “Caused a drop in X – Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: Pay cuts caused a drop in morale within our company. Better: Pay cuts demoralized our company.” Your “Better” example isn’t. A company is a thing and cannot, therefore, be demoralized. A real “Better” would be, “Paycuts demoralized our personnel.”

    Reply

    • Shane Arthur
      Sep 05, 2014 @ 15:20:55

      @otherdeb: Hey, what about personification! ;) Thanks for the clarification.

      Reply

  75. Ted
    Sep 07, 2014 @ 16:11:29

    Here’s another common and redundant term: hot water heater.
    It’s simply a water heater. It heats cold water and shuts off when it’s hot.

    Reply

  76. fashion pria
    Sep 08, 2014 @ 05:58:55

    nice post shane ! i really appreciate this great post

    Reply

  77. dress wanita
    Sep 08, 2014 @ 06:00:25

    very helpfull shane , great post !! thanks for sharing this

    Reply

  78. konsultan seo
    Sep 08, 2014 @ 06:19:15

    excelent list shane, kepp this great work up !

    Reply

  79. John Gates
    Sep 08, 2014 @ 18:01:11

    ……or as Winston Churchill might have paraphrased. ..”flab is something up with which we will not put!..”

    Reply

  80. Kulwant Nagi
    Sep 10, 2014 @ 13:40:20

    Holy big list.

    In how much time you compiled this? I am very curious to know.

    Reply

  81. The Best Way to Improve Your Writing Skills and Create Better Content | Blogging with Beth
    Sep 14, 2014 @ 23:42:25

    […] want you to take 15 minutes and read this article from the blog BoostBlogTraffic.com. It’s called “297 Flabby Words and Phrases That Rob Your […]

    Reply

  82. David H Fears
    Sep 15, 2014 @ 12:56:11

    Shane, I would like your permission to include this list with other examples in my forthcoming book, “Self-editing your Novel.” I hope to publish sometime in late October. Please reply to: Allegory60@gmail.com

    thanks!

    Reply

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