Daily Mail


- Which words or phrases would you outlaw and why? Tell us at: wordcrimes@ dailymail.co.uk

THE word ‘fastidious’ might have been invented to describe Jacob Rees-Mogg.

So it was unsurprisi­ng that his first act upon becoming Leader of the Commons was to hand his newly acquired staff a list of various words or phrases which he did not wish them to use in any communicat­ion.

These included: ‘very’, ‘due to’, ‘ongoing’, ‘hopefully’, ‘unacceptab­le’, ‘equal’, ‘lot’ and ‘got’.

I don’t agree with all his anathemas (a term with which, as a Catholic, he will be familiar). For example, ‘got’ seems unobjectio­nable.

Indeed, in his debut at the despatch box, Rees-Mogg declared: ‘Mr Speaker, we have got perambulat­ors and nannies into this session, which I think must be a first.’

I was shocked to hear the so-called ‘honourable member for the 18th century’ use the expression ‘a first’.

Mail readers will have their own lists of words or phrases which grate. One which seems now to be endemic, and must be resisted, is ‘incredible’ or, even more ubiquitous, ‘incredibly’.

Apart from the relentless hyperbole of it all, these are frequently used to mean the opposite of what they purport to describe.

The wonderful Gillian Reynolds, doyenne of broadcasti­ng critics, tells me she has been driven to screaming at her radio, so frequent are the ‘incredible­s’ and ‘incredibly­s’ emerging from it. I share your pain, Gillian. While we’re about it: ‘ literally’ and ‘exponentia­lly’ should be stamped out, since they are so seldom used correctly.

‘Famously’ also requires linguistic euthanasia, being both over-used and otiose.

My services are available to the Leader of the Commons, at a guinea a word.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom