There are words that fit comfortably in news reports but feel alien in your mouth. Have you ever asked a coworker to stop glowering at you? Told your boss you were trying to foment comments? Complained about readers firing salvos at you?
Identifying such words is by no means a new concept — Jim Romenesko solicited them from readers in 2012, and Charles Portis wrote about a woman who started every transitional paragraph with “moreover.” Robert Hutton wrote a British-English-centric book about the problem: “Romps, Tots and Boffins: The Strange Language of News.”
Kristen Hare’s Wednesday-morning Twitter call for suggestions of such words unearthed those examples, as well as many suggestions. Some fell too neatly into the category of peeves — flee, for some reason, came up a lot.
“I think we shouldn’t be embarrassed by those and in fact there has been a long tradition of their usage in headline writing,” Poynter’s Roy Peter Clark said. “I’m really interested in the shorter words, because those are the ones that for decades, maybe centuries, have supported the efforts of copy editors, such as nix, pics or inks or pact.”
After much discussion (including violent disagreement over whether shutter as a verb fits, which it totally doesn’t, and anyone who says it does is WRONG) we came up with a Top 10 list of words rarely spoken or broadcast:
Poynter isn’t interested in running a list of words that should be banned (we don’t want to step on Carlos Lozada’s toes). But just for fun, at the bottom of this post, you’ll find a poll asking you to vote on which of these words our profession should agree to never use again. We will periodically shame people, including us, when the champion gets used. Oh, the glowering they’ll get!
But first, your tweets and Facebook comments:
And here’s our poll!