Ghastly words

To avoid.

The English language is abundantly blessed with words, often many meaning the same but each one with a slightly different nuance.

Do you get the idea?


Do you understand my drift?

Both broadly mean the same, but the first is more specific, the second has a slightly vaguer feel to it.

Reading around the internet, blogs and poorly written articles on news sites, I felt like banging my head on poor Hal laptop.

It must be my age.

I wrote before about how awesome has me reaching for the sick bucket, closely followed by ‘stuff’.

It’s rather like when I was starting out in journalism, and I was instructed not to use the word facilities. It was too general. If someone was going to provide toilets, say so (can’t remember what else facilities referred to).

We couldn’t use erection either but that was for a different reason, eg erection of a garden shed. They always had to be constructed or built. But definitely not erected.

So which words have got up the Cloudy Roughseas nose this week?

Here we go:

You rock

It’s on a par with awesome. I think it is meant to mean, I agree with what you say, you are a considerate person, you write thoughtfully, blah blah, but it’s much easier to say you rock. And in point of fact, I don’t rock. Unless I have had far too much to drink.

โ€ข figurative (of a place) have an atmosphere of excitement or much social activity : the new town really rocks | [as adj. ] ( rocking) a rocking resort.

โ€ข informal: this game totally rocks; be impressive, informal kick butt, blow one away, blow one’s mind, rock one’s world, be cool, be on fire.

You guys

This is not a gripe at the gender-specific aspect of the phrase, but rather I find it irritating, sloppy, informal and slangy. [See, I told you my age was showing through]

In fact, You guys rock, you are awesome, is possibly the worst combination of all.

I’m down with

Down with who? Status Quo? (Down, down deeper and down) or where?

[Status Quo incidentally came to Gib a few years ago. Brilliant. Like all the other tight-arses we stood outside the concert venue and peeked through to vaguely see them but listened to the music for free. In fact looking at that 1975 vid I think I could get a retrospective crush on the one with the long straight hair playing guitar and singing ….]

Back to down with ..

Apparently this one means that you get on with people.

Or you agree with them, or you are homosexual. Well why not say any or all of those. I’m down (with) is just meaningless.

If I say something like that it would be on the lines of:

I’m down in the chicken shed


down at the bottom of the garden.

On my last grammar police post, J G Burdette mentioned ‘like’ and Perpetua ‘ mentioned ‘you know’.

Example of usage:

‘like, you know,’ to neatly combine the two.

Both valid ghastly words/phrases.

And one I learned a while ago, that left me scratching my head – the get-go. Get-go is actually in my computer’s dictionary much to my surprise, but there again, Hal is American. I managed to work out that get-go refers to beginning or start, eg ‘from the get-go’ means from the beginning. So why not say so?

What else have I noticed?

Well, a few grammatical errors.

I will hold up my hand and say I always proof read, hit publish and then find something else that is wrong.

For some reason I have developed an irritating habit of writing now instead of know. They aren’t even pronounced the same, and yet the sneaky k disappears from the front.

On other blogs I’ve noticed where instead of were, and the classic confusion of affect and effect.

As in: to affect a change (um, don’t think so)


we were effected by this (really?)

I’m currently having to curb myself from using extremely, which I am currently over-using. Rather like currently. I like it because it seems more emphatic than very. However as soon as we start to overuse words, they lose their emphasis, and that’s the point of this piece.

Overusing lazy slang words because we can’t be bothered to think of more precise vocabulary, and overusing swearing, takes away from their meaning and results in sloppy and mediocre writing.

There is a place for informality, slang and swearing. But it should be the exception rather than the rule.

Nor is this a post directed at people with dyslexia or who have had a crap education and can not spell.

I was on a forum where someone was dyslexic and persevered to write posts, in spite of some inconsiderate toerags criticising his spelling.

I thought he was brave to continue with his posts, and admired him. It wasn’t even difficult to read what he wrote.

But there is a difference between a) sloppy use of language b) using text speak when writing and c) mis-spelling for whatever reason.

Most of us can do something about the first two. A lot of people can’t do anything about the third one.

If you have a good education, think about the words you use, choose them carefully and consider yourself extremely privileged. If you have problems spelling, for whatever reason, don’t feel intimidated, and write what you want.

So long as it isn’t ‘You guys are awesome, you rock.’

ETA: there are some good examples from readers below, so do read their views about words to avoid and pet peeves.


About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
This entry was posted in blogging, musings, thoughts, writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Ghastly words

  1. I find myself using “actually” far too often in speech. I’m in recovery now but it will take some time. Old habits are very hard to break. I’d also like to add two. Where I am, people often refer to their organizational division as their “shop.” it makes me cringe, but not as much as when a person uses the phrase, “on a go – forward basis.”


    • Yes, actually is an easy one to over-use, as is really.

      I’ve not heard the shop one! Probably something to do with a) not working and b) not being in North America.

      There are a whole string of management jargon ones aren’t there? They used to annoy me when I was working, back to first principles, blue sky thinking, and thinking out of the box are the first three that come to mind and that were popular in my organisation. They basically all mean ‘original ideas’. (Of which there was a shortage :D)


  2. I hate the word ‘fantastic’ although I am certain that I have used it!


  3. Vicky says:

    I do think it is an age thing, as some of the ‘new’ words that are used these day, don’t mean what they did in my youth.
    Awesome was never in my vocabulary as a child, probably because I never found anything awesome enough to label as awesome.
    ‘You rock’ a baby to sleep, or a boat (not to sleep I might add). A rock was either on beach, in a garden, chucked through someone’s window(not by me, I might add)……..or where you (that’s you personally, not in general) live ๐Ÿ˜‰
    ‘Down with’ I’ll join you down the garden in the chicken shed with The Quo ๐Ÿ™‚ great group!
    English was one of my worst subjects at school, and I admit to having to look up a lot of words that I’ve not heard before, but I do know my where, were and wear and they’re, there and their.
    Text speak, whether written or spoken is what rattles me most, there’s no wonder today’s youth can’t spell.


    • Laughing at your comment about nothing awesome enough to be labelled that ๐Ÿ˜€

      Yes, I thought of babies and boats too. And where I live. Have you been on a mind-reading course?

      Trouble is, I got Repetitive Strain Injury to A’s annoyance once I had found that track and started playing it endlessly. I like that song, it is nice and noisy, and better played loud too. Anyway we avoided the divorce yesterday. I remember dancing to it at my first disco in a gold lurex dress with some very tasteless gold shoes covered in sequins and with a slight platform ๐Ÿ˜€ The dress was nice though.

      You wouldn’t know that English was one of your worst subjects. Doesn’t read like that when I read your work. I was quite good at it. I was always sunk into a depression if I didn’t get 20/20 at Junior School for spelling tests.

      Text spk is OK on ‘phones, there is a valid reason for it there. It isn’t OK anywhere else IMNRHO. Oh, I could write a post about internet acronyms.


      • Vicky says:

        Thank you for your compliment, I do appreciate it, especially from a professional.

        The image you’ve conjured up in my mind of your gold attire has just made me smile ๐Ÿ™‚ it reminded me of one of my prized outfits from the days of glam rock……red satin trousers and purple velvet top ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

        Spelling was my worst, which I’m certain stems from a lack of reading, which in turn stems from an inability to stop the words dancing around on the page.
        I don’t even use text speak on my phone, apart from a few too many LOL’s.
        My 84 year old mum uses it more than I do, using r u instead of ‘are you’ amongst the many others.


        • You capture the moment well, have a sense of humour and inject lots of personality into whatever you write. A lot of people can’t do any of those ๐Ÿ˜€

          Oh, and you take nice photos too!

          I remember the days of purple velvet. I had a wonderful pair of purple suede boots. I wore them to bed.

          My mum did teach me to read and write before I went to school (I went aged 4), so I was well away with reading. I’d be lost without books. As I remember, doesn’t text speak date from when you were charged by the length of messages on your ‘phones? Totally irrelevant nowadays which just goes to show that it is down to laziness. I do use it occasionally.

          Interestingly (to me anyway) we used to use a form of it in journalism on our tripewriters. So that would become tht, to would be t, and said would be sd. The comps (compositors) knew the abbreviations and it just made life easier all round. This was in the days of hot metal when they put the little letters on individually. The point of that, as one Beeb journalist once said to me, is that, ‘there is nothing new under the sun’. So if I do use text speak on the ‘phone it tends to be a mix of the two. Which no doubt confuses the few people I mail/text (ie you, A and one other).


  4. free penny press says:

    “You know” at the end of sentences is my tipping point.. also overuse of the word “and”….


    • I probably use you know. And I definitely use and a lot. Probably because I was brought up with grammar rules to never start a sentence with a conjunction or end it with a preposition. It was truly liberating to start a sentence with either And or But. I’ve never got away from that heady feeling of excitement ๐Ÿ˜€


  5. Ally says:

    I’ve just realised how much I adore the word ‘ghastly’.
    I also over-use ‘currently’, and I frequently use ‘recently’.
    I despise short, rhetorical questions in parentheses that end in ‘much?’ or ‘anyone?’ I see them frequently!

    For example:

    ‘I came home from work and devoured 4 cookies (hungry, much?)’.
    ‘I have decided to bake a batch of cookies for the party (choc chips, anyone?)’.
    I cringe. Ghastly!
    Also, before I go, I have to mention the use of ‘could of’ instead of ‘could have’. That one drives me mad.
    Great post! Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. ๐Ÿ™‚


    • I like ghastly. I think it’s a hangover from my youth where I probably picked up its informal usage. It would be nice to be able to use it in its real meaning – or maybe it wouldn’t!

      Currently is one of those words that should in a way be redundant. If you are writing or speaking about the present why do we need to add that word? Except I do.

      Recently, I don’t use as much. That’s probably because when I started in journalism it was another of those rules that was dinned into me. You don’t start a story by referring to something that happened recently, because it made it sound as though it was old news.

      Examples of that translated to blogging would be: ‘Recently I was in Spain and ….. ‘(which I would never say), rather I would choose ‘When I was in Spain ….’

      I’m glad you gave those examples about much and anyone, I had no idea what you meant! Of course, you’ve touched on another subject that sends me into orbit, and that is the Americanisation of the British language per se, eg cookies for biscuits.

      Cringe is good too, I like that one.I probably use that too much as well.

      Could of, would of etc, yes you are absolutely right about that. I physically shut my eyes, drop my shoulders and sigh when I see it. It’s even better than affect/effect.

      And yet, as I said above, some people haven’t had a good enough education, or spelling just is not their fortรฉ. Vicky gave some good examples above, and I would add bear and bare to that which I often see wrongly used. I’ll end with its and it’s – which I catch myself getting wrong from time to time and hastily change ‘it’.


  6. Iquitoz says:

    “Anyone?” I love that question only because I associate it with Ben Stein the Economics teacher in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. Go figure. You know what I’m saying? Those two phrases I dislike, totally. Absolutely enjoyed your piece.


    • I remember the title but I’ve never seen the film.

      I’d forgotten Go Figure. Very American. I only came across it once I started blogging/using forums. But ‘You know what I’m saying’ or ‘You know what I’m talking about’ I’ve probably been guilty of using. I suspect it’s an attempt to gain some empathy with the person you are talking to? Not sure I’ve used it in writing though.

      You and the other commenters have reminded me of another one that jars with me, so I’ll add it to the post (get-go), ie from the get-go.

      Thanks Iquitoz.


  7. Andrew says:

    Whatever happened to mojo? I thought you were going to poke fun at my use of the phrase ‘lost my mojo’. I was looking forward to that. I am more flexible on language. There is a time and a place for most things and I have come to accept that language evolves and probably turns in circles. Spelling however does not. Neither does grammar. My blood pressure rises when someone confuses principal and principle. Or says “different to”, rather than “different from”. At school we were taught that either was ‘eye-ther’ not ‘ee-ther’. I shudder when I listen to David Beckham. There should be a film called Murder Language Like Beckham. Maybe he falls into one of the free pass categories. I know not. If so he is excused. It still grates though. I am also extremely tolerant where English is not the first language ( Americans excepted). When we bought a Korean business the top management seemed to be under the impression that overnight thousands of Koreans would suddenly become fluent in English. They were wrong. One added cost was the rapid employment of a small army of translators. Anyway, actually I think your post is awesome. You do indeed rock.


    • Sorry, I should have included mojo. Yes, that is a good one for the list, as is kudos.

      I am aware that language moves on, and I have no issue with that. My gripe is with imprecise and fashionable words that clutter up the place. I would argue about our relative flexibility.

      You may use mojo. Occasionally. Whatever it means. Inspiration?

      Different to and from is another great one I had forgotten. But I’m sure a lot of the ones that send me into outer space tend to be on American blogs. Perhaps it’s correct in Americanese to say different to. I probably do it too. There is another one like that, and I think it involves than. I’ll have to hunt it down.

      Speaking of Beckham and eether, do you remember when there was some football match in Genoa and everyone seemed to be pronouncing it Ge – know ‘ – er? (ie Do you know her). Instead of Gen – oa.

      I’ve also learned to be tolerant about people who don’t speak English as a first language, given my rubbish Spanish. I am impressed with the standard people reach quite rapidly. I read a particularly fluent piece the other day by someone who is not English, and the only error was to use good instead of well. But that could be an American influence too, ie it was done good rather than it was done well, or something similar.

      I think you have forgotten that Americans don’t speak English. They have their own distinct variation and it should be noted as such. I do take exception when Americans correct my English however ๐Ÿ˜€

      Thank you, but you’ve never written anything remotely like that in anything I have read by you so it isn’t quite your style. Stick to your mojo.


  8. Pingback: He shall music wherever he goes……… | All downhill from here

  9. Perpetua says:

    I learn something every day. I hadn’t even heard of ‘down with’ until I read this. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I think there’s a lot of sloppy use of language because so many people weren’t taught any formal grammar at school. instead they were encouraged to express themselves without the building-blocks they needed to do it properly.

    As for ‘you guys’, it’s used all the time in those awful property-search programmes where some youngish presenter addresses people old enough to be his parents as though they are his old school pals. Grrr!


    • Haha! And you have children and grandchildren. I have to say I was a bit confused about cottaging years ago. Thought I knew what it meant but still ended up asking someone. We had some public toilets down the road …

      I can live with new slang, just not all the time, and I see no reason why older people should take it up to be ‘cool’ or ‘fashionable’ or up to date or whatever. Fine to know what it means but no need to use it. I’m not 20 or 30 or 40 any more. I don’t need to pretend to be.

      I’ve no idea what grammar I was taught. Not much in English but Latin was very useful.

      Luckily I’ve not seen property search programmes for some time. Media presenters leave me rubbing my forehead – I’ve just done it even thinking about them!

      A lot of this is about fashion. Fashionable words and language instead of a use of an extremely good language with such a multitude of options. Sloppy writing strikes me as more boring than verbosity. It’s vacuous.


  10. JGB says:

    Even after 12 years of grammar schooling I still find myself “tripping up” over some simple word uses. It irks me. What is really annoying is when I go to read something I wrote ages ago (on the internet) and find so many glaring typos, badly structured sentences and what not…and it can’t be corrected!

    You know, this grammar post is, like, totally awesome. Sorry, had to throw that in there.

    Now how about a post on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s overuse of the comma.


    • Just how many IDs do you have? More than me?

      I tell you, when I back read a post and I find errors, I am in there to make that correction.

      I really need to read some Hawthorne. I’ll post about his comma usage later ๐Ÿ˜‰ One of my university pals used to mention him. *Puts on library list*

      You never use slang, so quit the awesome! It isn’t you ๐Ÿ˜€


      • JGB says:

        When someone isn’t logged in while making a comment they can insert another ID for their name. Hence the different name usage on these comments.

        Okay, I won’t use “awesome” anymore.

        Regarding Hawthorne, I say go for it. You’ll be appalled. ๐Ÿ˜‰


        • I’ve seen the form a couple of times on the rare occasions I’m not logged in, but I find it easier to log in than fill out name and email. I didn’t know you got an avatar though which was what confused me.
          You’re putting me off Hawthorne now!


  11. Perhaps people might have been more inclined to realize the meticulous specificity of this wonderful language had it only been named with a term ending in anything other than “-ish”.


    • Hadn’t really thought about that. English, British, Irish, Scottish – oddly not Welsh – are the only languages I can think of that end with -ish. Silly me. There is always Spanish. although technically espaรฑol. Interesting way of looking at it.


  12. Lottie Nevin says:

    I fear that I tick every single one of your boxes – sorry!


  13. tchistorygal says:

    AWESOME post! haha. All slang. I do find myself being lazy and using the same words over and over again. It used to be “Bizarre,” and “You know?” Now it’s “Bummer,” or “Awesome,” of course. I don’t know why I do that. Must be the American in me. In writing I am constantly taking out the word “So”. Then there’s punctuation. I just learned that in America, it is never right to put the quotation marks inside of the comma or period. GO FIGURE! haha I enjoyed your post! ๐Ÿ™‚


    • It is the slang that gripes me. I swear far too much in conversation with my partner and in emails with people I am comfortable with. But I try and moderate it on the blogs, because too much dilutes the effect.

      I like bizarre, so it’s not just the American in you. I also take out the word so too. Sometimes. Obviously not in this paragraph.

      I don’t mean to depress you but actually (another of those lovely overused ones that is quite nice) sometimes it is accurate to put the comma or full point inside the quotations marks. Depends on the quotation. I can’t think of an example right now, but I was reading about it recently. On a similar topic I also read about putting comma/full point outside hyperlinks which I’m not sure I agree with.

      Thanks. I aim to entertain.


  14. EllaDee says:

    Sadly, Advertising has gobbled up the fantastic 1975 version of Down Down and spat out the ghastly Coles version ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Not awesome.
    I just cannot understand text speak. IMNRHO means nothing to me. If I’m really curious about the context, I need to Google each instance because it just doesn’t mesh with my mind. I Googled IMNRHO with no results so I’ll have to remain in the dark.
    I have Robin Coyle’s Strong Vs Weak Words posts
    to thank for weeding out some of my worse transgressions but as I have mentioned many times to Robin, you can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl, and I will probably always tend towards informality.


    • I think that is a brilliant advert ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m not joking either. I love it. Thanks for the link. I still fancy the lead singer/guitarist, but even the pretty boy guitarist looks better in older age.

      IMNRHO is internet speak not text speak. In my not remotely humble opinion, as opposed to IMHO, in my humble opinion. Like ROFL, or even ROFLMFAO. Rolling on the floor laughing and it’s variant ROFL my (F***ing) arse off. I’m sure you’ve heard of those.

      I do understand text speak. That’s partly because we used a similar version in journalism as I have said elsewhere. See comment to Vicky above. I just don’t think it works in blogging. I’ll have a look at Robin’s post, I know you think she is good.

      My point isn’t about not being informal, it’s just about overuse of some words, and using ‘fashionable’ ones for the sake of it. To show you are hip ๐Ÿ˜‰


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