Thursday, June 7, 2018

Really Stupid Words, Chapter Two

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.
Think about “proactive.”
I was surprised to learn that it has been around, in a limited way, for a long, long time. Fortunately, no one used it much until, say, 30 or so years ago. Since then, it has become one of the most overused words in our language. Not only in business circles, where made-up trendy buzzwords often find a home, but by regular folks, as well.
It’s supposed to mean the opposite of “react” or “reactive.” Apparently, no one stops to think that those words are opposites of perfectly good words—act and active—so don’t really need an opposite themselves.
If “active” doesn’t seem to fit, try “aggressive” or “concerted” or “determined” or “resolute” or “take the initiative.” We could go on.
Whatever words you choose to describe an active approach to something, there’s no point, really, in resorting to a stupid, meaningless, but apparently important-sounding (to some) word such as “proactive.”
Therefore, I will be proactive in my efforts to eliminate it.


  1. Good thing you are proactive in letting us know about your opinion, Rod. :-)

    1. Thanks, Tanja. I believe being proactive has a real impact on things.