Misused words: the top five words used that don’t even exist

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As a writer, having such respect for words means that I can often be quite precious about them. I love words and hope to treat them with the utmost respect they deserve. So when I hear someone befouling the English language, misusing words or even making them up, it really grinds my gears. Ah well, I s’pose new words’ve gotta come from somewhere …

Anyway, here are the top five non-existent words I hear used all the time. I sincerely hope you don’t use any of them, but if you do, I hope I don’t offend you – it’s all just a bit of fun!

1. Irregardless

Have you ever heard someone say something such as “irregardless, I’m going anyway”? This is the first word of which I thought when I decided to write this piece, because I hear it used so often. People who say it actually mean plain old ‘regardless’. If I ever hear someone I know say it, I always answer with, “there’s no ‘I’ in regardless” and I’m often met with a look of incredulity.

2. Supposably

This one, for some reason, really grinds my gears. It’s almost as bad as saying “arks” instead of ask. Which is why this one is number two and arks is number three. Supposedly, my giving grief to people who say supposably makes me a nit-picking type. But it’s just not a word, darn it!

3. Arks

You’ve all heard someone say “arks” instead of ask. It’s so commonly used that it’s almost accepted as everyday speech. But you know what? Arks are something in which biblical animals travelled during the alleged flood, so if you ask me, people who arks for stuff shouldn’t receive a thing. At least not until they can speak properly (pronounced ‘prop-er-lee’, not ‘prop-lee’).

4. Brang/brung

Brang, brung – wrong! If this word wasn’t constantly brought (which is the correct past tense word for bring) to my attention, it probably wouldn’t bother me so much. But brang and brung is so often used as the past tense of bring that it’s actually listed in the Macquarie Dictionary as a non-standard word for ‘brought’.

5. Expresso

Having worked in the coffee industry for many years, “Gimme an expresso mate” was barked at me so often that I ended up becoming used to it. What I found funny, though, is that some people with whom I worked  – who should’ve (not ‘should of’) known better – would also say expresso.

When I first heard it when people ordered their coffee, I would make sure that I said “here’s your ESPRESSO sir” when I gave it to them. But after a while I just gave up. So, the next time you order your coffee, ensure that you ask for an espresso. I promise you, your barista will unconsciously make you a better coffee, because when they hear your order, he or she will concentrate on grinding your beans instead of their teeth.

In closing, I thought I’d put forward ‘chalant’ as an honourable mention, which I don’t hear a lot, but is a line from a very funny Christmas film called The Hebrew Hammer:

Chief:

Well it’s good to see that you can be so nonchalant about the whole thing.

Hammer: (Thinking)

I guess I could be chalant about it, but then again I’m not even sure if that’s a word. Listen, Chief, we could stand around arguing all day, but I got a case to crack.

Do these words grind your gears as much as they do mine? Or am I just being precious? Do you know of any misused or non-existent words not listed here exist? Why not share them with our members?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?

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180 Comments

Total Comments: 180
  1. 0
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    Yes, one makes me cringe cringe “in actual fact”

  2. 0
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    I hear you Leon! I too hate those ‘words’ you mentioned, particularly ‘should of’. But I do love Chillax. Sorry, but I do.

  3. 0
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    The substitution of “bought” for “brought” and vice versa, “filem” rather than “film”, “Satday” rather than “Saturday”, and “think” rather than “thing” may also bring chills to your spine, Leon. “I am ‘going to go'” rather than “I am going” is another tooth grinder.

  4. 0
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    I can’t think of ” anythink ” at the moment but I’m sure ” somethink” will come to mind

  5. 0
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    Yes, Gordon Ramsay always says “somethink”!!! Very annoying.

  6. 0
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    have ‘yous’ done this latey, shame on you

  7. 0
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    I get frustrated with the meaningless use of “it’s”. If people only stopped to expand the abbreviation with “it is” then they could see how silly its misuse is

  8. 0
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    Absolutely!, all of the above, but my most “cringe-worthy” would have to be in the classification of “unique”, as in ” most unique, very unique, almost unique”…….eeerrrrggggggghh

    • 0
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      I just had a brief discussion with someone about the use of the definite and indefinite articles before the word perfect too. That’s a whole other kettle of fish…

    • 0
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      Hmm; could you use the term ‘almost unique’ to describe something like my surname: It was a changed name (we believe) sometime in the 1800’s, when one of my ancestors went from Russia to a Western European country and thence to the USA. We’ve done some checking and cannot locate anyone in Eastern Europe or Western Europe who has the surname; except for me, all of them are in the USA; I’m the only one in Australia. All up, less than a dozen still alive….would that make me in Australia ‘almost unique?’

    • 0
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      Nope. Don’t think so.

  9. 0
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    Annoying uses of the English language

    •t7.30 AM in the morning —– tautology

    •tUse of thinK instead of thinG

    •tDone ‘good’ should be ‘well’.

    •tThe future is ahead of them —- where else??

    •tBackstop behind the whatever —- where else??

    •tUse ZEE instead of ZED.

    •tSkedule??

    •t“Unique in the world “ “very unique” — there are no degrees of uniqueness!

    •tTake or have a listen – listen is a verb not a noun!

    •tFurtherest — Yuk.

    •tPronunciation of TOUR — TOOA??

    •tThe use of Quick instead of Quickly.

    •tInterchanging amount and number – number of individuals – amount of “stuff”.

    •t“Yes, No, I mean, You know – usually indicates a lie following.

    •tFeeling under par – should mean feeling good not bad.

    •tMisuse of “er”and “est” Fewer of two, and Fewest of many.

    •tImportant being pronounced “imporDent

    •tBotanical instead of botanic

    • 0
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      Great list Spud! I’ll come to you the next time I need some inspiration for one of these articles!

    • 0
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      “Feeling under par – should mean feeling good not bad.” This only applies if you are a golfer. Par means average so if you are feeling under average you are feeling bad.

      Pronunciation of Kilometre —- the problem has just shown up with the spell checker wanting me to misspell the word as Kilometer. A Kilometre is a measure of distance based on the Metre. It is not a measuring instrument called a Meter.
      It should always be kilo-metre and not kil-ometer.

    • 0
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      Kilo-metre, Chat. Would that one have turned over? My guess has Kil-ometre (short ‘o’) now the more common.

      All of the above bring a smile for their commonality.

      A range of unnecessary suffixes also abrade. A good example is not coming…perhaps, words like “orient” which take suffixes unnecessarily or, incorrectly. “They orient East.” They orientate East”. I think of Pooh Bear. If he ever found East no doubt he would helpfully correct his or her orientation.

      Some people seem to have an incapacity to handle the sounds involved. One person I know is aware that “filum” is not correct and has tried to say ‘film’ under tutilage without success.

      Spud mentioned “skedule” that is one that irks me but which can be heard in specific circles so regularly that I wonder if it is not appropriate use in particular sub-culture. Overall, these errors (or incoming stanards) are so common that if we allowed ourselves a “cringe” at each we would not be happy travellers.

    • 0
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      A great list Spud.
      Well, it is, at least, the ‘tip of the iceberg.

      English is a strange and for some, a difficult language.

      You sound like one of those with whom a weekly English language discussion or debate would be most enjoyable.

    • 0
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      Great list, Spud. Think yous all should definately bookmark this.

    • 0
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      yep agree spud, schedule, I’ve heard pronounced shkedul, mostly by americans (should be shedule ) but then they can’t spell kilometre correctly because they don’t obviously know the difference between the two, at the same time we hear some people in the media mispronouncing Kilometre as kill omiter. We say millimetre, and centimetre (* I love it when windows tells me I haven’t spelt the word correctly hahaha) so why not kilometre.If the ABC and 95% of channel 7 can pronounce it correctly, why can’t the rest,( We will omit the incorrect pronunciation of medical terms,; I have twittered Kay McGrath on the correct pronunciation of ‘Cervical’ , (didn’t include meningococcal , no-one gets that right). And the other phrase that gets me is :”one of the longest,- one of the largest, one of the best,— there is only one longest, or largest,or best,– etc ,etc, you can’t have a collection of longest, largest , etc.

  10. 0
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    Secetry instead of SECRETARY.
    brought instead of BOUGHT (courtesy of my ex husband)
    Yous instead of YOU.

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