Over-used Words are Devastated by Tragic Turn of Events

There was a news piece a few weeks ago that got me to thinking.

The news piece in brief: A puppy was shot by a hunter. The hunter turned himself in, but claims it was accidental.

Whenever this story came up on the news, the phrase used almost invariably was “leaving the family devastated.”

Devastated? Really? Like, the burned out of your house, lost your child in a car accident kind of devastated? I don’t think so.

I’m really not a cruel person. I think it was a bad thing for a child’s puppy to be shot and killed accidentally or otherwise. I just don’t think it’s devastating.

The most telling part was when someone in the community gave the family a new puppy. The news reports all said “the story has a happy ending.”

If you were devastated by losing a child, the story does not have a happy ending when you get another one.

So, I nominate ‘devastated’ as an over-used news word. It should go right along with horrifying, tragic, brutal, scandalized and … and … .

It’s early. Tell me some of your least favourite over-used words in the comments. There are lots.

But I also walk on the other side of that line. I’m not a news-writer, but I do work in marketing, so I am constantly trying to find new ways to describe the same things. I have three types of plays I’m trying to market: funny ones, sad ones and musical ones. There can be combinations of that, but essentially that’s what I’m up against. My consistent dilemma is how to describe a funny play without using that ubiquitous word ‘hilarious,’ or a musical without resorting to ‘toe-tapping’ or a sad play without using ‘heart-warming.’

People want to know what they’re going to feel when they go see a play after all. It’s a big commitment to actually get out of the house after a long day at work and go to another part of town to watch something play out in front of you. You want it to be good. You want to know if you’re going to laugh, if you’ll like the music, or, if it’s that most difficult to market kind of a play–a weepy play; is it at least a good kind of weepy?

It’s tricky business, let me tell you. There are no under-used words to describe something that will make you laugh. I resorted to the word ‘rioutous’ last time and thinking about it now, I still cringe. Sometimes I just want to be honest: “I laughed when I saw this, I think you will too.” It’s not a phrase that will get picked out of a press release I grant you, but it’s a pretty good describer.

So, you have a mission–what are your most hated, and over-used phrased on the news and in marketing. Go!

About Tentative Equinox North

Theatremaker, Homemaker, Thoughtmaker. Great hair, Probably looking forward to my next nap.
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3 Responses to Over-used Words are Devastated by Tragic Turn of Events

  1. Colleen says:


    I realize the media uses it to cover their backsides from being sued, but it drives me crazy.

    He ‘allegedly’ drove the 5 ton truck up and down Lougheed for 25 minutes while we filmed the whole thing and then we filmed him jumping out of the truck and get taken down by a police officer. ???

    He ‘allegedly’ killed the person with 25 witnesses present and was trapped inside the bus until police arrested him.

    Irritates me to no end.

    Overused marketing? I, too, hate toe-tapping and heartwarming.

    Why can’t you just tell the truth, in simple words?

    “Come see this play. You’ll laugh. Lots. Honest.”

    But don’t forget the disclaimer. Gotta cover your backside.

    “Patrons are encouraged to practice their Kegal exercises prior to attending this show. Or wear Depends.”

    Hey…..that could be some wicked sponsorship for you……

  2. Ditto Colleen with “Allegedly”

    “Outside the box” – if I have to hear that phrase one more time, I’m going to scream.

    “Holiday” – In an effort to be inclusive and diverse…blah blah blah…we must now say “Holiday” instead of Christmas, Ramadan, Hannukah, etc.

    And while I’m at it… add “inclusive” and “diverse” to the list of overused words.

  3. Oh, those are good ones!

    I also realized I am tired of all political hornet’s nests being described as a ____gate.

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