10 of the most overused words and how to avoid them

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Writing concise, engaging content is no simple task. Unless you are fortunate enough to have skilled writers or competent editors to spot them, boring, overused words should be avoided at all costs.
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Ever find yourself using the same words in meetings, presentations, or when conversing with friends? If so, there’s a good chance you’ll do the same when creating written content. While it may be easy to overuse words in daily conversation, repeating the same word in a written text is far easier to spot. Not only do these weak or overused words diminish the quality of your content, but most importantly, they put off your readers. Our natural human tendency is to exaggerate a point, leading to the inclusion of unnecessary words or phrases.

Creating more succinct and dynamic content helps to deliver your message with conviction, keeping your readers coming back for more. Knowing which words to look out for is only half the battle; without a suitable alternative, you may find yourself slipping back into old habits. Allow us to offer some resolve as we cover 10 of the most overused words, and provide you with alternatives that will convey your message with greater potency. No one intends to create boring content, so don’t allow these common writing mishaps to turn off your readers.

 

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1: STUFF

We all own stuff. You have stuff; your neighbour has stuff. Stuff doesn’t tell us what you have. It doesn’t quantify what you are trying to reference. Unless the aim is to be informal, always try to describe your “stuff” with a more descriptive noun. “He had an absurd amount of Star Wars figurines”.

 

2: WENT

“I travelled to the shops on foot” is a far more exciting way of describing “I went to the shops”. It will help your reader understand not just where you are going, but how you got there. This is an excellent way to add intrigue and develop a story.

 

This is an excellent way to add intrigue and develop a story.

 

3: NICE

The word nice lacks any position. It is similar to ticking the “neither agree nor disagree” box when completing a survey. This is a safe option when so many other words can be used to describe the same scenario, but in much greater detail. Think about the item, person, or situation you are describing, then try to integrate the terms pleasant, divine, attractive, or well-mannered. Isn’t that nice?

 

4: NEW

While “new” can signal something to get excited about, it often doesn’t work in the context of describing a noun effectively. For instance, “Dave bought a new car”. We know Dave has a car, but we don’t know anything about the car—the make, the model, or the size. Instead, “Dave bought a huge, top of the line Mercedes” allows readers to visualise the object in question in detail.

 

5: THINGS

Very similar to stuff. The problem with “things” is that it is so easy to use, and this can cause writers to take the easy route: “She had things to think about” or “He gathered up all his things”. It is an incredibly nondescript word; remove it wherever possible. “He gathered up all of the stationary on his desk”.

 

6: REALLY

“Really” is a prime example of bloating out written content. In almost every case, you can delete the word really and your point will remain valid. The use of the word really prevents us from having strength in our convictions. Instead, you should use more powerful and emotive words in its place. “Jim really wanted a drink” could be written as “Jim yearned for water”.

 

“Jim really wanted a drink” could be written as “Jim yearned for water”.

 

7: IMPORTANT

This word is often used in emails. It seems as though everything these days is labelled as important, and therein lies the problem. Because we have viewed the word so many times, it has lost its, well, importance. We have become so inoculated to the term that it no longer represents the same urgency it may have in the past. Instead, try using a call to arms style of phrase like “urgent attention required” or “vital documents enclosed”.

 

8: INTERESTING

Even an ugly puppy can be described as interesting. If you can explain why something is interesting, then you need never use the word at all. All things are interesting for a reason; readers want to know what that is.

 

9: THINK

Another example of a word that lacks conviction. Writers will often invoke this term when they lack confidence, using it as a way to qualify their message. The most efficient way to avoid using this word is to stick to data, research, and statistics. After all, thinking something is true is much different than knowing it. Credibility is essential for written content. Plus, Google loves the use of numbers and other data, and so will your readers.

 

10: BETTER

We could all do better. In fact, this article could be written better, and an editor might have even changed it for the better. Even if that were the case, no one reading that statement has any idea what was made better or how. Better is often used as an excuse to avoid providing a specific reason. “You could improve the click rate of this article by writing a more engaging title” is far more helpful than a “you could write a more interesting title to make the article better”.

It can be difficult to avoid falling into the trap of overused words. They are often more comfortable and quicker to use when trying to create content in the fast-paced modern world. Of course, there are hundreds of overused words that should be avoided in order to create the most compelling content possible. Luckily, Yuqo has a skilled set of authors, editors, and translators who are specialised in doing just that—creating compelling, engaging, and dynamic content that cuts through the noise to deliver a powerful message.