‘Spree,’ ‘Even,’ ‘Still’ And Other Words We Should Stop Using The Way We’ve Been Using Them

The Standards & Practices inbox is filling up. Let’s clear some space:

- We’ve used the phrase “shooting spree” to describe what happened Tuesday in Northern California. Let’s not call such an event a “spree,” which Webster’s New World defines as “a lively, noisy frolic … a period of drunkenness … [or] a period of uninhibited activity (a shopping spree).” It was a mass shooting, a rampage or a series of deadly attacks. We need to keep using words and phrases that underscore the severity of what happened.

- Please keep in mind that the accusations against Roy Moore include alleged sexual assaults. To only say he’s accused of “misconduct” or “inappropriate” behavior does not reflect the seriousness of the accusations. Also, we should be clear that his accusers were “girls” at the time if they were under 18, not “women.”

- If you’re tempted to write or say that “even such-and-such now admits” or “so-and-so still hasn’t dropped out” or “despite the latest news …” stop and consider the words “even,” “still” and “despite.” They can come off sounding judgmental — as if you’re trying to say “can you believe that?” Or, maybe, “can you believe this guy?”

- Speaking of “guy,” check out who we’ve referred to as “a guy” in the recent past: Thomas Edison. Donald Trump. Barack Obama. Pope Francis.

Come on guys folks. It’s one thing to want to be conversational, but let’s be careful about who’s a “guy.” Related observation: We don’t seem to use “gals” this way. Would we refer to a “gal named Hillary Clinton?”

- Question: Unless the other person is clearly speaking to us on a telephone, why are we saying they’re “on the line?”

The inbox now has room for more suggested topics. Thanks.

(“Memmos;” Nov. 15, 2017)

November 15, 2017

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