Overused and unnecessary words


You know how when you wear the same perfume every day you cannot smell it anymore after a while? Or how you get used to the way things are and don’t notice anything until something changes? That is a survival instinct in our lizard brains, meaning we save energy and adrenalin for when something is different at which time we assess the change and are on our guard until we assure yourself there is no threat.

So if you overuse a word like really, very or important, people stop noticing it after about the third time you say it. Meaning you should stop using it altogether or find a synonym.



  • Instead of saying important, leave it out or use vital, essential, crucial, valuable.


Instead of saying very (which is also vague), qualify it in another way.

  • Very happy? Use ecstatic, cheerful, delighted, overjoyed, pleased, exultant.
  • Very big? Use measurements instead. Remember things are relative. In South Africa, unemployment is about 80% in the area from which I come. In Sweden, unemployment is about 8%. So to say ‘very high unemployment’ could mean different things to different people.
  • Use significant, considerable, marked, dramatic, substantial

Other overused words:

  • actually
  • absolutely
  • that
  • just

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

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