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Stupid Terminology Watch: These Words and Phrases are Banned

By Ken Magill

As we head into the fourth quarter of 2010, now is an appropriate time to reiterate a vow I made to readers of my old newsletter, Magilla Marketing, last year.

In fall of 2009, I vowed to ban the phrase “holiday shopping” from Magilla Marketing. This week, I am repeating that vow. [I’m also banning a bunch of other stupid words and phrases and we’ll get to them shortly.]

But first, the worst: the completely idiotic—not to mention inaccurate—term “holiday shopping.”

Why ban such a seemingly innocuous term? Because “holiday shopping” is a politically correct cancer attempting to imply that a wide range of “holidays” drives fourth-quarter retailing in America. That we’ve let this piece of idiocy so infect our national discussion on retail sales is pathetic.

There is one holiday overwhelmingly driving fourth-quarter shopping: It’s Christmas. Without Christmas, there would be no November and December surge in American retail sales.

Also, calling it “Christmas shopping” is neither endorsing Christmas nor Christianity. It’s simply labeling the event accurately.

And as I wrote in Magilla Marketing last year, I won’t even allow the phrase to appear in quotes. I will bracket it out and replace it with the phrase “Christmas shopping.”

This is not a religious argument. It’s a tiny stand taken by a niche newsletter publisher who simply refuses to craft idiocies into his work in order to avoid offending a small percentage of easily offended weenies.

But of course, those who are easily offended left this writer’s work a looooong time ago.

And while we’re at it, there are a few other words that simply will not be allowed to appear here:

Kudos: A stupid word used by writers and editors who think they are in a position to validate others’ actions when they usually are in no such position.

[Anything]centric: “Focused” is a far better word than centric. “Customer centric” is especially stupid. If you’re not focused on your customers, why—and how, for that matter—are you in business?

Paradigm: A highfalutin word for “model” that some people think makes them sound smart. It doesn’t. “Model shift” sounds pretty stupid, right? So does “paradigm shift.”

Myriad: A synonym for “many” that some people think makes them sound smart. It doesn’t. Moreover, the people who feel compelled to use it often do so incorrectly, as in “a myriad of.” Myriad is literally a synonym for many and should be used the same way, if it’s to be used at all.

Paradigm: Yes, paradigm’s here twice. I really hate that word.

Savvy: A highfalutin word for “smart” that some people think makes them sound, well, smart. It doesn’t. Over the years, I have edited countless vendor-contributed articles that begin at least one sentence with: “Savvy marketers know” and finish the thought with some concept that even a drool-bucket-moron marketer should know.

DNA: That is, unless we’re talking about Deoxyribonucleic acid.

“Fail” as a noun: It’s already a cliché.

Soup to nuts: Haven’t heard this one in a while, but when I used to hear it a lot, I always wondered: “Does anybody really begin a meal with soup and end it with nuts?”

End of the day: That is, unless we’re discussing the actual end of a day.

Batch and blast: A hackneyed term for mass emailing.

Spray and pray: Also a hackneyed term for mass emailing.

Best of breed: Do you really want your technology or service to be compared to a skittish, high-maintenance, over-bred dog?

Solutions provider: The laziest description of a business ever invented. It conveys nothing.

That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. How about you, readers? Can anyone offer other marketing buzzwords that should be banished from The Magill Report?


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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: Sidus ludovicianum
Date: 2015-08-14 11:26:46
Subject: Having said that

I hate "having said that"!
Posted by: Victor Szudek
Date: 2012-10-23 15:46:44
Subject: ParadigMATIC [adj.]

is even worse... I heard it on TV regarding so-called golbal warming. Thanks for your excellent words and comment. I'm off on an anchovy suitcase.
Posted by: rick
Date: 2012-01-22 10:46:29
Subject: pair of dimes

I had par diguums and the word is used By shledon in big bang alot and when I inspected microfilm it was scattered throughout 'scientific' journals. Such as one with some geek & a mathematical formula for how often the biggest female chimp wanted to mate, something like 2l ' x 4 g 7/2 m to the 2nd = horny primate