The average English speaker knows about 20,000 words, and no matter how chatty you are, it’s impossible to overuse words for the lack of knowledge. You could go for years without mentioning some of the words you know.
So why are there so many overused words in the English language?
Well, there are many reasons. For instance, crutch words.
Also called filler words, crutch words are usually meaningless sounds that people make when they are trying to put together their next statement. Words like uhm, like, and er are all filler words, and they are overused.
Substituting overused words with more captivating ones can add more color to your speech and writing.
But the point is not for you to completely avoid them. You should rather try to replace them with more interesting words.
Substituting overused words with more captivating ones adds more color to your speech and writing.
Here is a list of the 15 most overused words in the English language.
Why Do English Speakers Overuse Words?
People overuse and misuse simple words as well as big and outlandish words.
Simple words are used as crutches in speech and writing, while the more complex words come out when a speaker wants to appear smart or well-informed.
Here are some reasons why we fail to diversify our vocabulary:
Limited Social Interaction
Hanging out with the same group of friends, we tend to throw around similar words and phrases. It’s natural to incorporate the words you hear your friends use into your vocabulary.
Words like unique, incredible, interesting, and immersive are used to market products every day.
The fact that these words are so impactful puts them at risk of being misused.
We also overuse filler words and phrases. Rather than relying on likeand erto make your point, you should take the time to collect your thoughts and speak them all at once.
The quality of your content greatly improves when you use the correct term to describe an exact moment.
Why Avoid Overused Words?
Sure, they are common and easy to reach whenever you need to make a point; but overused words may cost you.
When translating content to English, you need to use words that correctly convey the author’s feelings and intentions.
They add little to no value
Take a look at these two statements:
“I finished my morning run, and then went to get some breakfast at the new coffee shop, and then went back home.”
“I finished my morning run, went to get some breakfast at the new coffee shop, and went back home.”
The second statement is more precise.
Like, then, just – such words fill up your page without adding any real value to the content.
You sound boring
Overused words make you sound boring and repetitive; avoid them! Even when you think you are intensifying your writing by adding words like ‘really’ and ‘very.’
Don’t put your readers to sleep.
The rise of the online marketing industry has increased the demand for catchy and action-oriented words.
When translating content to English, you need to use words that correctly convey the author’s feelings and intentions.
15 Most Overused Words (and Their Alternatives)
You need to write simply and concisely, and this means avoiding meaningless adjectives, modifiers, and intensifiers.
You can hear it in your head by just reading the word on a page.
‘Amazing’ is a common word, which makes sense because this word is versatile and applicable in several ways.
You can use amazing to describe actions, experiences, as well as emotions.
But just because you can doesn’t mean you should, at least not always.
Words to Use Instead of Amazing
- Great (for the less grand experiences)
This word is used so often that sometimes it gets difficult to understand what a person means when they say it.
Interesting is the automatic response people go for when they hear information they can’t quite comprehend.
It is also what people say when they are not really listening, therefore making it a crutch word.
You probably use this word all the time to add urgency (or exaggerate) a statement or an action.
The word is so overused that people don’t even bother to stick to the original meaning anymore.
“I am so hungry; I am literally dying!”
Because it is among the most overused and misused words out there, the intensity and depth that the word ‘literally’ holds are somehow fading.
Words to Use Instead
Nice can be used to describe how a person feels, how they’re dressed – all the way to what type of day a person is having.
‘Nice’ is usually the first word to form on people’s lips when they see something that catches their eye.
And this is for good reason too.
There aren’t too many choices that carry the same complementary value as the word ‘nice.’
Another word with a good amount of versatility is ‘hard.’ It is widely used because it can describe a physical activity, an object, or a mental or emotional process.
I work hard, I am having a hard day, it’s been a hard year – all these words sound generic and convey little to no meaning.
Just so you know, there is nothing wrong with using an overused word.
In fact, in some instances, commonly used words the most effective at getting through to your audience.
Change is one such word.
It is inspirational and speaks to something bigger than all of us. Change the world. You also change your attitude, and you also change your life.
The problem with overused words is that over time, we become numb to them.
A word like ‘important’ can lose its meaning if used one too many times in a memo or an email.
After all, too much of something has never been good for anyone, right?
This word is supposed to signify facts.
“Actually, the sun rises from the East.”
However, because it is so overused, the word has come to signify a difference in opinions. Like so:
“I actually think we should go with the green pain instead.”
Alternatives to Use
Spilling coffee on yourself results in a bad morning. You get caught in ‘bad’ traffic, have a bad day, and the narrative goes on until you finally get back to the solace of your home.
People use the word bad to describe most negative situations, but other words can make a much bigger impact on your readers.
Just like the word bad, good is also a general term that is overused.
‘good work’ ‘have a good day’ ‘good returns’ – this word does not have any strong meaning.
We all know this crutch word, and you probably use it more than you should.
The original meaning of ‘like’ shows partiality towards a person or an object, but most people use it as a filler word.
This word is misused so much that sometimes, you can hear it as many as three times in a single sentence.
As a word of endearment:
As a filler word:
A word that ironically means ‘one of a kind’ has found its way into our daily vocabulary.
Unique is no longer a unique word to use.
Generic products are unique, mass-produced goods are also described as unique. This word carries a lot of weight and can get through to people – which is why it is so overused.
The more people use a word, the more ambiguous it becomes.
Incredible is a general term that people use in place of ‘good.’
This word is commonly used in the job setting.
I want a professional with experience.
What is your experience in this industry?
Here are other words you can use to convey the same meaning:
This word represents a final and definite conclusion and affirmation to a statement. Absolutely shows confidence that the listener has received the message and will follow through with conviction and certainty.
How to Expand your Vocabulary
Crutch words, tired words, boring words – all different names that mean the same thing.
There are only so many times you can use the word ‘amazing’ or ‘interesting.’
Imagine you were a food reviewer. Would you say ‘this food is amazing’ all the time? Of course not. A diverse vocabulary instantly makes you stand out, hence capturing the attention of your audience.
The best way to incporate new words into your vocabulary is to practise.
Here are multiple exercises you can use to expand your vocabulary:
- Read books, blogs, and anything else that might help you develop both your vocabulary and storytelling skills.
- Play word games like scrabble.
- Subscribe to websites that send a ‘word of the day.
- Another good way to expand your vocabulary is by using the dictionary and the thesaurus. Look for meaningful synonyms to the most commonly used words.
Whenever you learn a new word, use it in conversation, and eventually, it will become a regular in your speech. You can be a language specialist with a little bit of time and patience.
Use More Words
Strive to use some of the less common words in your vocabulary.
Whether you are writing or speaking, you should avoid overused words that make you sound boring and repetitive.
In audio marketing or video marketing, using more captivating words will make you stand out from the crowd, hence attracting more consumers to your business.
Remember, as an average English speaker, you have more than 20,000 words in your vocabulary – use them.
When translating content, look for professional and expert translators with a diverse vocabulary.
What are the most overused words in the English language? ›
- 1 Other. This word appeared over five million times in a day across Grammarly products. ...
- 2 More. “More” is one of those catchall terms. ...
- 3 New. New products, new information, new person. ...
- 4 Good. “Good” is just good enough. ...
- 5 Best. ...
- 6 Many. ...
- 7 Important. ...
- 8 Great.
A good way to start identifying your crutch words is to count them. No by yourself, of course. You can use a word cloud generator (pictured above) or a word frequency counter. Paste your entire document into these generators, and check the count.What is the most overused saying? ›
"No worries." "New normal." "Circle back." "You're on mute." These are among the most overused, misused and generally groan-inducing phrases, according to the judges of a Michigan university's annual "Banished Words List."What is overused words? ›
What are overused words or phrases? Overused words and phrases are words that people use too often in their writing or speech. They often lose their meaning because of this overuse. Writers can replace these with stronger words or synonyms to make their words more interesting.What is the most unnecessary word in the English language? ›
- Fulvous (adj.) ...
- Roister (int. ...
- Persiflage (n.) ...
- Caracole (n.) ...
- Acidulous (adj.) ...
- Crapulent (adj.) ...
- Bibulous (adj.) Means 'addicted to drinking alcoholic liquor'. ...
- Laniferous (adj.) Means 'wool-bearing'.
“There are no two words in the English language more harmful than 'good job'," snarls Fletcher, the character J. K.What are the obsolete words? ›
- Overmorrow: the day after tomorrow.
- Lunting: walking while smoking a pipe.
- California widow: a married woman who is away from her husband for any extended period.
- Groak: to silently watch someone while they are eating, hoping to be invited to join them.
Catch overused words
Grammarly's engagement suggestions will help find commonly overused words like these in your writing and suggest that you replace them with more specific words. This report is an important essential step on the way to success.
Avoid using words to fill up space. Modifiers, qualifiers, and intensifiers (very, almost, nearly, quite) add nothing to our writing. Unnecessary adjectives and adverbs clutter up the page and put our readers to sleep. We should also avoid using big words and empty phrases because we think they makes us sound clever.Is very an overused word? ›
Many people overuse "very" in their writing. This is a mistake. "Very" is an intensifier without an inherent meaning. Many inexperienced writers use intensifiers like "very" or "really" to try to add power to their writing.
What are the most annoying phrases? ›
- “Why are you so quiet?”
- “This is my truth.”
- “I have been through worse.”
- “People don't like me because I'm honest.”
- “Am I the only one …?”
- “I'm sorry if I offended you.”
- “That's just life.”
- “Um, actually …”
Redundancies are words that unnecessarily repeat information. Because a cliché is an overused expression, the modifier overused in the familiar expression overused cliché is redundant. He concluded with a cliché (not an overused cliché): Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.When words are too much? ›
Those people among us who are prone to use more words than necessary are properly described as "verbose." The things those people produce with their words—replies, orations, and the like—are likewise properly accorded the same designation.What are the hardest English word? ›
Sesquipedalian. Originating from 17th century Latin and originally meaning 'a foot and a half long', this word literally stands for 'long-winded' words, such as Sesquipedalian. And one would think it would mean something really mysterious and fascinating.What is the least said English word? ›
1.abate: reduce or lesson. 2.abdicate: give up a position. 3.aberration: something unusual, different from the norm.What is the longest F word in the English language? ›
Floccinaucinihilipilification Definition & Meaning | Dictionary.com.What are the only negative words in English? ›
The most common negative words are no and not. Other negative words include: neither, never, no one, nobody, none, nor, nothing, nowhere: She's never been abroad.What are harmful words to say? ›
“ You're *#@! % stupid. ” “ I wish you were never born. ” “ No one is ever going to love you, you're so *#@! % fat and ugly. ” “ You never get anything right. ” “ You're worthless. ” These are mean and degrading things to say to someone.What is the oldest word still in use? ›
According to a 2009 study by researchers at Reading University, the oldest words in the English language include “I“, “we“, “who“, “two” and “three“, all of which date back tens of thousands of years.What are the longest anti words? ›
Antidisestablishmentarianism is rarely, if ever, encountered because of its actual meaning. Instead, antidisestablishmentarianism is often cited as being one of the longest words in the English language, coming in at a staggering 28 letters.
Is Grammarly 100% accurate? ›
Is Grammarly Accurate? Yes, it's accurate for basic spelling and grammar errors. Its suggestions are also more correct than other writing apps. It can correct passive voice, diction, writing style, and comma location.Can teachers see if you use Grammarly? ›
Yes, Grammarly stores text and other data related to your account. I've read their terms which says they don't sell it to third parties and it's partially anonymous.What are unnecessary words or phrases? ›
Dummy Subjects. Dummy subjects are expletive words—words that take up space without adding meaning—and occur in phrases like there is, there are, there was, there were, it is, and it was. Because they are usually unnecessary and wordy, avoid using dummy subjects whenever possible.What are overused tired words? ›
Common Tired Words
Some of the most commonly overused words are that, had, however, because, of course, in order to, and after all.
Adverb. To a greater extent than is wanted or required; excessively.What's a better word for happy? ›
cheerful, contented, delighted, ecstatic, elated, glad, joyful, joyous, jubilant, lively, merry, overjoyed, peaceful, pleasant, pleased, satisfied, thrilled, upbeat, apt, fortunate.What words annoy people? ›
- Moist. I know a lot of people hate word moist. ...
- Epic. Epic. ...
- People. ...
- Bias. ...
- Minion. ...
- Irregardless. ...
- Feels. ...
OTHER WORDS FOR bothersome
annoying, irritating, irksome, vexing, vexatious, galling.
Americans are most annoyed by the use of “irregardless” and “supposably.” A majority of Americans (3 in 5) find it acceptable to correct pronunciation or grammar, even when unprompted.What's a biggest cliché? ›
Examples of Clichés in Everyday Language
read between the lines. play your cards right. it's an uphill battle. better safe than sorry. you can't judge a book by its cover.
What are trite overused sayings? ›
Clichés are trite, overused expressions, many of which rely on figurative language.What is a overused trite phrase? ›
trite, hackneyed, stereotyped, threadbare mean lacking the freshness that evokes attention or interest. trite applies to a once effective phrase or idea spoiled from long familiarity. "you win some, you lose some" is a trite expression. hackneyed stresses being worn out by overuse so as to become dull and meaningless.What do you call a person who uses big words to sound smart? ›
Sesquipedalian can also be used to describe someone or something that overuses big words, like a philosophy professor or a chemistry textbook. If someone gives a sesquipedalian speech, people often assume it was smart, even if they don't really know what it was about because they can't understand the words.What do you call someone who talks but doesn't listen? ›
What is it called when a person has the ability to speak but not to listen during a conversation? It's called inconsiderate.What is a loquacious person? ›
A loquacious person finds it easy to talk a lot and to do it fluently. You might notice that loquacious sounds like other words that have to do with speaking, like eloquence and elocution. All of these words' roots are tied to the Latin verb loqui, which means “to speak.”What is the #1 most commonly used word in the English language? ›
|Word||Parts of speech||COCA rank|
Originating from 17th century Latin and originally meaning 'a foot and a half long', this word literally stands for 'long-winded' words, such as Sesquipedalian. And one would think it would mean something really mysterious and fascinating. But no, just 'long.'
- Rural. [ˈrʊrəl] There's no way you can pronounce this word without twisting your tongue! ...
- Mischievous. [ˈmɪsʧəvəs] ...
- Colonel. [ˈkɜrnəl] ...
- Epitome. [ɪˈpɪtəmi] ...
- Draught. [dræft] ...
- Hyperbole. [haɪˈpɜrbəˌli] ...
- Nauseous. [ˈnɔʃəs] ...
- Sixth. [sɪksθ]
- be – “Will you be my friend?”
- and – “You and I will always be friends.”
- of – “Today is the first of November.”
- a – “I saw a bear today.”
- in – “She is in her room.”
- to – “Let's go to the park.”
- have – “I have a few questions.”
- too – “I like her too.”
Although it's become the most spoken word on the planet, it's kind of a strange word. Sometimes it's spelled out—“okay”—and sometimes just two letters are used: “OK.” Other times, periods separate the two letters: “O.K.” I'm a syntactician, which means that I'm someone who looks at the structure of language.
What is the most commonly used 2 letter word in English language? ›
The only one-letter words in English are a and I. The most common two-letter words are of, to, in, it, is, be, as, at, so, we, he, by, or, on, do, if, me, my, up, an, go, no, us, am.What is the rarest word in the world? ›
- Deliquescent. Adjective: Becoming liquid, or having a tendency to become liquid.
- Flabbergast. Verb: Surprise someone greatly.
- Flimflam. ...
- Floccinaucinihilipilification. ...
- Limerence. ...
- Loquacious. ...
- Obdurate. ...
- 1 Pronunciation. Ironically, many people mispronounce this word! ...
- 2 Cupboard. ...
- 3 Epitome. ...
- 4 Salmon. ...
- 5 Library/February. ...
- 6 Definitely. ...
- 7 Ask. ...
- 8 Wednesday.
- Anachronism. An anachronism is something (or someone) that is out of place in terms of time or chronology. ...
- Accismus. A form of irony in which someone feigns indifference to something he or she desires. ...
- Cacophony. ...
- Draconian. ...
- Limerence. ...
- Pareidolia. ...
- Riposte. ...
Ah Worcestershire, the infamous sauce that no one knows how to pronounce. The problem comes from the fact that the sauce is named after the county of “Worcestershire” and British people ignore half the syllables in the names of their counties.