Wednesday’s Words: List of Loaths (Part I)

We all have a list of annoying words and phrases that we’d just as soon cut from the language. Here are some words I’d like to expunge, starting with a hundred and ten percent. If I hear one more person say he is giving a hundred and ten percent, I think I’ll scream or vomit or do something equally repulsive.

What does it mean, anyway? A hundred and ten percent of what? Once you go beyond one hundred percent, you get into a form of mathematics that I know nothing about. It could be a hundred and ten percent of two hundred percent, which isn’t good. Or it could be a hundred and ten percent of one thousand percent, which is worse.

Unless you flunked remedial math, in which case you might have an excuse for your ignorance, you should know that you cannot give more than one hundred percent. That is the maximum. I’m not certain it is even possible for a person to give the maximum effort. Your energy and fluids and muscles would be so debilitated that you might not be able to recover. But if it were possible to give a maximum effort, the world would be a great place to live because of all you special people.

24/7. The only expression ghastlier than a hundred and ten percent is 24/7. When speaking of a business, it might apply, but when it is used for a person, as in “I work twenty-four seven,” it becomes impossible. The only thing a person can do 24/7 is breathe, and with sleep apnea being so prevalent, a lot of people don’t even do that 24/7. You certainly can’t work 24/7. What about sleeping? Eating? Defecating? All these activities subtract from that 24/7. (If you continue to work while on the toilet, I don’t want to know about it.)

There is nothing wrong with hyperbole. It is an acceptable literary form. But please, if you must hyperbolize, be inventive. I’m certain that if you try you can come up with something even more annoying than giving a hundred and ten percent 24/7.

Coed is a term that was born in the nineteen thirties when women enrolled in previously all-male colleges, and it is a term that should have died there. Writers today are careful about not using other sexist terms, but coed is still prevalent. Short for coeducational student, it is demeaning when used as a term for a college woman. It says that men are students, and women merely co-students.

Writers who do not fall into that trap often fall into another, calling a man/woman team, such as police partners, a coed team. Unless it refers to education, it is meaningless. When applied to unisex restrooms, coed might be appropriate, but then, as adults, what can we learn about the opposite sex in a restroom that we don’t already know?

So, give as much effort as possible, do it all the time, and can the coed.


About the author

Pat Bertram is the author of More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I, all available from Amazon and Second Wind Publishing, LLC. Watch for Light Bringer coming in March, 2011.

»» 5 Responses to “Wednesday’s Words: List of Loaths (Part I)” »»
  1. Beth says:

    If you must hyperbolize… My pastor loves hyperbole and he’s quite inventive and effective.

    The phrases I have trouble with are usually spoken—him and his brother went to the… her and her momma are… and my favorite, that’s a whole nother issue.

    Written and spoken? The fact of the matter is…

  2. Pat Bertram says:

    My most loathed spoken word is “goes” used in place of “said.” She goes, “Yikes.”

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  3. Kat Sheridan says:

    Irregardless. I don’t care how smart you are, if you use that word I’ll put you in the “undereducated” column. I used to use 24/7/365, as in I was on call for work 24/7/365. And yes, I did get calls to get up and go in to work at 2 AM. The other one that bugs me is mixing up took and brought. You brought home groceries–but if you brought your wife to dinner last night I’m going to wonder where you live.

  4. Wanda H. says:

    I love all the phrases you mentioned… well, I loathe them but… ok… they’re phrases I love to hate. There are so many that I can’t grab one out of the stew that is my mind. Although I must say I use “that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish” (can of worms, issue, etc.) But only when I’m using an exaggerated accent and meaning to use this nonsensical phrase.

    That “goes” instead of said… oh yes, that one is extremely loathsome.

    Can’t wait for more of this kind of posting. Thanks for making me smile.