During the COVID-19 pandemic, buzzwords are getting a workout

Many users on Twitter have noted the increased use of some words and phrases that have started to distract from important messages.


Editor’s note: This article is a re-run as part of our countdown of top stories from the past year.

There might be a global pandemic out there, but social media users still have time to slam jargon and buzzwords online.

As reporters and organizations have worked around the clock to provide updates on the COVID-19 crisis, one word that has gotten a lot of use: “amid.”


Some are trying to spice the word up:


That’s not a suggestion that goes over well with many editors:

Others suggested a more palatable alternative:

If you are inclined to parse your word choice to find the least obnoxious phrasing, there’s plenty more advice to be found on Twitter.

One editor with ABC suggests writers stop talking about “concerns”:

Here are some other buzzwords to avoid:

Buzzwords aren’t the only language faux pas that have been making the rounds during the COVID-19 crisis.

However, not every language expert is going to agree. Here’s one word nerd who is ready to use the word “amid”:

Should we tell them?

Here are some tips for removing buzzwords from your writing:

  1. Read your writing out loud. If your copy sounds like corporate drivel, it is. Ditch it for concise, active sentences that convey the heart of the problem right away.
  2. Avoid technical terms. Just because your industry or organization is familiar with a phrase, the rest of the world might not be. And don’t waste your audience’s time defining unnecessary words and phrases. Use language that everyone already knows.
  3. Always scan. Remember that many in your audience aren’t going to hang onto your every word. Most readers are scanners, so try to replicate their experience to test your content and see if you deliver your key messages.

What are some of the words that you’d like to see less of during this current crisis? Share them with us in the comments.



3 Responses to “During the COVID-19 pandemic, buzzwords are getting a workout”

    Emily says:

    “Uncertain times” is flying around a lot and drives me nuts. There’s actually quite a bit of math behind what’s happening and the only variable is how well we address it.

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