76 Phrases You Should Avoid

From the Washington Post:

  1. At first glance
  2. As a society (or, “as a nation”)
  3. Observers
  4. TK is not alone
  5. Pundits say (or “Critics say”)
  6. The American people (unless in a quote)
  7. The narrative (unless referring to a style of writing)
  8. Probe (as substitute for “investigation”)
  9. A rare window (unless we’re talking about a real window that is in fact rare)
  10. Begs the question (unless used properly – and so rarely used properly that not worth it)
  11. Be that as it may
  12. It is important to note that
  13. Needless to say
  14. [Anything] 2.0 (or 3.0, or 4.0…)
  15. At a crossroads
  16. Outside the box/Out of the box
  17. TK is a favorite Washington parlor game
  18. Yes, Virginia, there is a TK
  19. Underscored
  20. Midwife (as a verb that does not involve childbirth)
  21. Call it TK
  22. Pity the poor TK
  23. Imagine (as the first word in your lede)
  24. Palpable sense of relief
  25. Rorschach test (unless it is a real one)
  26. The Other
  27. Effort (as a verb)
  28. Gestalt/Zeitgeist
  29. Little-noticed (that just means the writer hadn’t noticed it)
  30. Hastily-convened
  31. Ignominious end
  32. Tightly knit community
  33. Rise of the 24-hour news cycle (it rose a long time ago)
  34. Remains to be seen
  35. Feeding frenzy/feeding the frenzy
  36. Double down
  37. Dons the mantle of
  38. Hot-button issue
  39. Face-saving compromise
  40. The argument goes (or its cousin, “the thinking goes”)
  41. Shutter (as a verb)
  42. Paradigm shift (in journalism, all paradigms are shifting)
  43. Unlikely revolutionary (in journalism, all revolutionaries are unlikely)
  44. Unlikely reformer (in journalism, all reformers are unlikely)
  45. Grizzled veteran (in journalism, all veterans are grizzled – unless they are “seasoned”)
  46. Manicured lawns (in journalism, all nice lawns are manicured)
  47. Rose from obscurity (in journalism, all rises are from obscurity)
  48. Dizzying array (in journalism, all arrays make one dizzy)
  49. Withering criticism (in journalism, all criticism is withering)
  50. Predawn raid (in journalism, all raids are predawn)
  51. Sparked debate (or “Raised questions”)
  52. Ironic Capitalizations Implying Unimportance Of Things Others Consider Important
  53. Provides fresh details
  54. But reality/truth is more complicated (oversimplify, then criticize the oversimplification)
  55. Scarred by war
  56. Shines a spotlight on (unless there is a real spotlight that really shines)
  57. TK is no panacea (nothing is)
  58. No silver bullet
  59. Shifting dynamics
  60. Situation is fluid (code for “I have no idea what is going on”)
  61. Partisans on both sides
  62. Charm offensive
  63. Pushback
  64. Going forward
  65. Stinging rebuke
  66. Mr. TK goes to Washington (unless a reference to the actual movie)
  67. The proverbial TK (“proverbial” doesn’t excuse the cliché, just admits you used it knowingly)
  68. Fevered speculation
  69. Oft-cited
  70. Iconic
  71. Growing body of evidence
  72. Increasingly (unless we prove in the story that something is in fact increasing)
  73. Tapped (as substitute for “selected” or “appointed)
  74. Any “not-un” formulation (as in “not unsurprising”)
  75. There, I said it (more self-important than “voicey”)
  76. To be sure

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