We all have our fair share of annoyances, and writers probably have more than most. Some of us are grammar geeks, others are purists. I am more in the latter camp, though I probably have a foot planted rather firmly in each.
Here are some of the misused words that bother me the most.
Literally : Here’s a good rule of thumb … when someone says “literally” now, make a quick mental substitution for “figuratively” and you’ll be both happier and more sane.
Sexy: Unless you are describing boobs, a schlong, or some other part of human anatomy, don’t use this word. Cameras aren’t sexy. Cars aren’t sexy. Dish detergent sure as hell ain’t sexy. This materialistic melding of attraction with consumerism is a sad sign of our times.
Saga: This means, very specifically, a medieval prose tale from Iceland. It does not mean a particularly long email or blog post. (The only exception is if your email or blog is a re-imagining of Gisli the Strong or Burnt Njal.) Nor does it apply to Brandon Sanderson, George RR. Martin, or Robert Jordan. Sagas are typically quite short.
Zen: Zen quite narrowly refers to Chinese Buddhism as it exists in Japan. The concept most people mean when they refer to “zen” is Taoism. It means exactly what people misuse “Zen” to mean. Why don’t more people use the correct word? I literally don’t understand it.
What are some words or grammar peeves that bother you? Is there anything I should add to this list?