Shakespeare added thousands of words and phrases to the English language…so apparently anyone can do it, at least in theory. But not every word is a gem and there are some that we should do away with all together. Some are offensive, some are disturbing, and some are just lazy. To help you navigate the murky waters of vocabulary, here are four words you should never use:

a.This word has made every list of this kind for years and yet it still exists in our lexicon. Why? Why, why, why? There are so many synonyms that don’t sound vile and disgusting. To help you replace the particular word in your daily usage, here are some other options: wet, saturated, damp (try to avoid that one as well but it’s better than the alternative), clammy, or even just simply rewording the sentence to use moisture.
a.It’s not the quality of the word so much here as the quantity and way in which it’s used. You aren’t literally going to starve if you don’t eat some pizza soon. The only person who can say they’re literally going to explode with anger is The Hulk. Are you The Hulk? No, so don’t promise something that’s not going to happen. If you use this word literally it means something is definite (see what I did there?) so think before you speak and people will believe you more if you don’t literally guarantee anything.
a.You are not a 13-year-old girl describing the Jonas Brothers (are they even a thing anymore? I don’t know. Only someone who uses the word totes would know that.) It literally takes an extra 0.000004 of a second to say the full word totally and in exchange you sound 4000000x’s smarter…unless you’re using it like Cher in Clueless, in which case you also risk sounding ignorant, so don’t use it that way either.
a.The problem with this word is that in the last five years it has come to mean a number of different things. None of them are valid so instead of trying to pinpoint where it’s going wrong let’s just take it out of every day use—save plumbers and oceanographers, you’re still allowed to use flow. But if you’re talking about your hair, your outfit, or your evening plans, use a word that actually applies to the situation. Stop trying to steal words from their original definition.

There are over a million words in the English language. So removing these four words you should never use from your vocabulary shouldn’t be too much of a hardship and the world will be a better place for it.

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