12 words and phrases you should never use

Some of these are verbal fillers, and others can be downright rude. Cut them from your vocabulary.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

1. “Happy Memorial Day”: In the United States, Memorial Day is the day we honor the men and women who died while serving in the military. It’s a somber day of remembrance and appreciation for many, but for others it’s little more than a reason to enjoy a long weekend. “Happy Memorial Day” is not only contradictory (it’s like saying “Happy Funeral!”), but disrespectful to anyone mourning a loss.

2. “Utilize”: This is one of those rarely necessary, pompous-sounding words. As reader John Barnett wrote, “I really hate ‘utilize’ … for some reason government and academic writers love [that word] in order to make something sound very official and important … So I ask: What’s wrong with ‘use?'”

3. “With all due respect”: A reader named scottinapac described this phrase perfectly: “A business professional’s way of teeing up before taking a whack.” When I worked for Ted Koppel at “Nightline,” we’d brace ourselves whenever he started a question to a guest this way. We knew whatever he said next would be devastating.

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.