My most over-used words

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There’s a question in The Guardian’s weekly Q&A column that I just love: “Which words or phrases do you most overuse?”

I love encountering new words, revelling in unusual ones and rediscovering forgotten ones. But in the same way that I have ‘comfort books’ that I turn to when I’m tired and want something easy to read, so I have favourite words that crop up time and time again when I’m not writing for clients.

There are eight that feature far too often in my personal vocabulary…and I can’t decide whether they make me sound like a 1950s throwback or absurdly over-enthusiastic.

Marvellous

I generally, but not exclusively, use this sarcastically. There’s something about that long first syllable that lends itself to conveying scepticism and scorn.

Brilliant

On the other hand, brilliant is an excitable sounding word, and it’s pretty much the highest status anything can be awarded in my world.

Lovely

This is my alternative to ‘nice’, the word your teacher always told you not to use, although I can’t quite remember why.

Great

To be used when you need a slightly less fluffy alternative to ‘lovely’. Or you’ve already used ‘lovely’ at least once and can’t use it again without sounding ironic.

Jolly

“Jolly good”, “That’s rather jolly”, “That would be jolly”. Etc. It’s such an onomatopoeic word, it’s hard not to feel a little bit buoyed whenever you use it.

Chap

Because, well, it’s so much better than bloke or man or any of the alternatives, isn’t it?

Sorry

I have the classic English difficulty of apologising for the strangest of things that can’t possibly be my fault.

Just

I use this in the arguably disempowering way that women tend to do. (“I just wanted to drop you a line…”, “Could you just…” etc). I also use it over-optimistically but ultimately untruthfully in relation to time (“I’m just leaving!” “I’m just finishing!”)

So those are my most over-used words. What are yours?

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