Be a better writer – avoid these 13 words and phrases

Cut filler words from your lexicon


Nobody likes to have their time wasted. After all, time is money.

As a writer and editor, some of the biggest time wasters I come across are “filler words.” You know, those little utterances that take up space and add nothing. (Yes, I’m looking at you, literally.) Well, that’s not true; filler words add fluff, confusion and indecision.

Good writing is concise writing. Just ask Hemingway.

Unless you’re writing a personal letter, journaling a stream of consciousness or trying to hit that magical word count on your Grade 10 Social Studies essays, brevity pays.


Want to be a better writer? Ban these 13 fillers from your lexicon

Literally: Typically used incorrectly, literally means exactly, verbatim, word for word. Unless used in that sense, it’s best eliminated.


Leverage: As with literally, don’t use this word unless you’re referring to the mechanical advantage of using levers. Trying to sound smarter? How about no. Stick to the point and use “use.”


Synergy: When I hear someone say synergy, it’s usually as they’re trying to explain something they don’t understand. Don’t get lazy and resort to obfuscation, try harder and use a different word.


Believe/think: I think that maybe using believe indicates hesitancy or doubt. What do you think?


Stuff/thing: Unprofessional and unspecific. We can get away with these two words in spoken language but for written work give details.


In order to: Use “to.” Simple.


Really/very: Augh…these two! If a house is very big, it’s ENORMOUS! If a kid is very fast, she’s greased lightning! If an editor is really tired, he’s exhausted! Now’s your chance to sound smart and be creative. Take advantage of this opportunity!


Irregardless: Not a word.


Kind of/sort of: Was it or wasn’t it? Take a stand. Show no mercy!


Thanks, I feel better.


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Nancy Miller

Owner and editorial rockstar at Rock.Paper.Copy Writing Solutions

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