7 Words You Should Never Say in a News Story

I’m no “Mr. Language Person,” so I have zero authority to lay down rules. But if I could wave a magic wand and make words vanish from the dictionary, I have a few in mind.

wise-quotes-from-george-carlin-14Seven, to be exact.

George Carlin’s famous bit was “The Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” (Track No. 3 on the album Class Clown, circa 1972.)

With a tip of the hat to Carlin and for the benefit of news writers and readers everywhere, I humbly present …

7 Words You Should Never Say in a News Story

(1) Utilize

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 4.38.09 PM“Utilize” is Public Enemy No. 1, in my opinion. Cut this word from your vocabulary, and the world is a better place. I can’t think of a single reason to utilize it in a news story.

(2) Facilitate


Another govie favorite. Applied in any sentence, this word facilitates the certain knowledge that the writer is a blowhard.

(3) Implementation

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Five syllables that would require a sip in the Harold Washington Drinking Game. (Remember to chug on “juxtaposition.”)

(4) Currently

blog_presentlyorcurrentlyAs in, “We are currently in the process of implementing our utilization plan.” Fire this lazy time reference, and let the verb tense do its job.

(5) Approximately

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Use “about.” Avoid “approximately 10 to 15 …”  (Provide the range or add the qualifier, but don’t do both.)

(6) Chicagoland

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Tribune-speak and marketing jargon for “Chicago area.” While this one is region-specific, I’m sure journalists across America have to deal with similar abominations.

(7) Thru

Drive thru neon sign.I blame the “drive-thru” signs at fast-food restaurants for proliferating this sawed-off testimony to illiteracy. Don’t let that four-letter word get thru your defenses and into your news release.

The sad truth is busloads of journalists are frequenting the Lexicon Drive-Thru, and far too many (sob) are buying donuts.

  • Do you have a pet peeve word or words? If so, let us know in the comments field!