...A word or two (words to enjoy, words that annoy)

As I was cleaning out my office at Harvard Law School, I came across a list that I used to keep during file review season: my list of words. It started as a list of words/phrases that I didn’t like, but then I thought that was too negative, so I added a list of words/phrases that I like. I have always loved the art of language, the sound and meaning of words to convey facts, emotions, subtle hints of attitude, etc. After reading thousands of personal statements, additional statements, resumes and explanations over the years, certain words have found their way onto my list of naughty or nice. Here they are, in order of how the appeared in my list:

The Nice:

(Sometimes I just like the way that the word sounds, sometimes it’s the definition, sometimes it was just how perfectly descriptive the word can be)

  • Oaxaca
  • Proclivity
  • Predilection
  • Hubris
  • Reykjavik
  • Mensch
  • Fjord
  • Parenthetically
  • Pedestrian
  • Cantankerous
  • Maddening
  • Pernicious
  • Salacious
  • Cherubic
  • Pleonasm (the use of more words than necessary to denote mere sense; redundancy)
  • Factotum
  • Vexing
  • Wicked (meaning evil, but I am from Boston, so I am predisposed to like the other definition too… but maybe not in an essay)
  • Vitriol
  • Trajectory

The Naughty:

(Mostly, I didn’t like these words because they were overused, not used appropriately, or just displeasing to the ear/eye)

  • Proverbial (because most of the time it referred to something that was not at all proverbial)
  • Honed (please stop honing your skills; it hurts my eyes)
  • Piqued (this is often misspelled as “peaked my interest” ugh. It’s maddening!)
  • Whet (often misspelled as “wet my appetite” it’s vexing!)
  • Crystal clear (often it is not)
  • And the like
  • Obviously (when it is not obvious)
  • Learnt
  • Lol (I prefer haha or hehe — Btw, this is not for essay writing, just personal texting preference)
  • Literally (misused and overused)
  • Actually (overused)
  • Whether it be