Saturday, April 7, 2018

Really Stupid Words, Chapter One

American English is a rich language. It’s always changing and evolving. New words and usages come and go. Many that come along are helpful. They clarify, they improve, they enhance and enrich.
But some are just plain stupid.
They obfuscate, they complicate, they confuse. They reveal a lack of understanding.
Take “impact” for example.
Impact used to be a perfectly fine word with a clear, precise meaning. The definitions in my Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, published in 1994 (which may seem ancient to some, but it’s not that long ago), can be summed up as: to strike forcefully, forceful contact or collision.
Pretty simple.
Since then, the word has been hijacked and used in a way never meant for it: as an all-purpose substitute for affect and effect.
It’s used regularly and routinely by people who cannot figure out the difference between affect and effect and when to use which and why. So, they surrender and use impact in place of either and both. “Forceful collisions” everywhere shudder at the thought.
You probably heard someone abuse impact today. I wish I didn’t have to hear it anymore. It’s likely to impact my mood and have a negative impact on my state of mind.


  1. I agree, and a funny way to sum it up in the last sentence.

  2. This post will impact my writing for the next few days. Good stuff.

  3. Any time the idiots attempt to change usage of parts of speech -- well, buddy -- a man just has to step back and, you know, prioritize things. I share your pain, brother.

  4. Rod, this is a pet peeve of mine too. It impacts me negatively every time I hear it. I wish more people would "access" their dictionaries.