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Time for a word cull

As we enter the final month of 2021 – the year of Sleepy Joe, Boris “Peppa Pig” Johnson and snarling M. Macron, there are a few words and expressions that I’d like to see the back of. Feel free to add your own to the shit-list:

Build back better;
Great Reset;
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion;
It is what it is;
She’s a strong, independent woman;
Toxic masculinity;
Levelling up;
Hard-working families (what’s wrong with a bit of indolence, occasionally?);
Our NHS;
Taking a holistic view;
The view from the trenches;
Key worker (which begs the question of what everyone else has to do or be compelled to do);
Let’s hop into this (boing!);
Agile (everyone is a sodding gymnast now);
A solutions provider;

37 comments to Time for a word cull

  • Schrodinger's Dog

    A couple more: synergy and holistic.

  • Mark

    Surely “saving the planet”

    And let’s not forget “I’m – enter projectile vomit inducing inanity of choice – for climate”

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    I would be happy to see “lived experience” become “lived” in the sense of “formerly alive”.

  • Stonyground

    I don’t get what is wrong with reality based. Government policies that are reality based would be a massive improvement surely.

  • Wigner’s Friend

    “My truth”. There is only true and false.

  • Mark Gullick

    I can take the word ‘science’, but please no more ‘the science’.

  • woodsy42

    “best life” – has to be one the most inane phrases ever.

  • John B

    Responsibly sourced.

    Stopping/fighting climate change.

    Net Zero carbon

    Plant-based foods

  • Clovis Sangrail

    At pace.

  • tr

    White supremacist, which means, apparently, somebody (of any color) who the speaker doesn’t like for reasons the speaker would prefer to avoid mentioning.

  • Surly

    An abundance of caution

    Safe space

    Felt unsafe



  • NickM

    “Justice” in the sense of things like “climate justice”.

    “-phobic” in the sense of things like “transphobic”, “Islamophobic”.

  • JohnnyBravo

    Circle back.

  • NickM

    “Diversity” in the sense that only Woke opinions are allowed.

    “Terf” used to mean that “transwomen” have a right to have sex with lesbians who generally prefer a vagina to a penis.

    “Liberal” in a way that would make John Locke or William Gladstone vomit with rage.

  • Alan Peakall

    Indeed, NickM: one of my treasured sightings of such strange mutant liberals was in a mainstream press commentary on Korean culture: In Korean society there is a sharp divide between the older, conservative cold-war generation and younger liberals more sympathetic to the PDRK. Not, mark you, to their northern compatriots, or even to the north, but to the PDRK. I would like to think that I am doing the author of that piece an injustice and missing some deadpan irony, but, even if I am, I suspect it flew past the heads of many readers.

  • Katy Hibbert

    “Systemic racism”. Or “systemic” anything. Or anything “racism”.

  • Problematic

    Something that is problematic is by definition not a problem. Problematic means having the qualities of a problem without being a problem (-ic as a suffix comes from ikos, meaning “behaving like” or “in the style of”.)

  • Any two-word combination that ends in justice, equity, or studies.

  • Zerren Yeoville

    ‘Privilege’ when prefixed by anything, but especially by ‘check your’, ‘white’ or ‘cisgender’

  • NickM
    December 3, 2021 at 4:59 pm

    “Terf” used to mean that “transwomen” have a right to have sex with lesbians who generally prefer a vagina to a penis.

    I do not indulge in gender politics, but it was my impression that ‘Terf’ was short for ‘trans-exclusive radical feminist/ism’. That does not imply a ‘right’ to anything except to be scourged out of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival.

    As for vaginas, many transwomen have them. Argument (if any) is whether the non-OEM vagina counts as “real”. I can’t say as I’ve run into that argument; the more common one is how many male characteristics a transwoman carries over into the new female body – or if the new body is, indeed, female. The observer effect strongly influences this discussion.

  • NickM

    Ellen, that’s very true but I was referring to the sort of “protestors” with banners holding slogans like, “Suck my dick you TERF cunt”. I perhaps ought to have made myself clearer but this was a post which seemed to be inviting lists rather than details.

  • Well, I suppose protesters can suck my dick — if they can find it. Last time I saw it was in Wisconsin, but that was over twenty years ago. No forwarding address.

  • Timbo

    The one word I would like never to see again is bloody COVID!!!

  • Lee Moore

    my impression that ‘Terf’ was short for ‘trans-exclusive radical feminist/ism

    I thought it was “trans exclusionary radical feminist”

    That is to say the type of radical feminist that excludes “trans women” from the sisterhood, on the grounds that they are brothers rather than sisters

    It’s one of the rare wokish expessions that actually makes sense as read.

  • decnine

    “Now let’s hear from our Climate Editor Justin Rowlatt….”

  • Paul Marks

    Good post and good comments.

  • Anthony Trauring

    Get rid of the words, sure. Can we deep-six the concepts behind them?

  • NickM

    That almost sounds like a truly bizarre treasure hunt!

    Words and concepts are deeply interlinked. Orwell knew this. Alas he’d be mortified that the Woke have taken “1984” as an instructiona manual. So, yeah, the words matter. A lot. It is hard to frame any concept without language.

  • Patrick Crozier


  • Sam Duncan

    It is what it is;

    Slightly surprised to see that one in there. Yes, it’s a bit of a buzz-phrase at the moment, but I don’t find the sentiment behind it objectionable or vapid. I’ve even caught myself using it.

  • hansong

    I’d settle for not seeing the misuse of “begging the question”.

  • Sam Duncan:

    “I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam” – Popeye

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    “Comfortable in ones’ own skin.” If you are not comfortable, can you change it?

  • Mr Ed

    A multi-agency approach‘ AKA ‘our partners in other agencies‘.

    Lessons have been learnt‘.

    Anything termed ‘exclusion‘.


  • Shlomo Maistre

    “Vaccine hesitant”

  • Jacob

    Mentally challenged