The worst buzzwords of 2020 - how many are you guilty of using?

·3 min read
The Buzzword Hall of Shame has been released. (Getty Images)
The Buzzword Hall of Shame has been released. (Getty Images)

We’re reaching out to you in the time of COVID-19, while you read our curated content, to ask you to circle back and re-read this sentence, which contains some of 2020’s most annoying buzzwords.

Yep, tidy up tool The Buzzsaw has released its list of the worst jargon words of 2020 so far, and we just ticked off a fair few in that opening line.

The online tool, which strips out buzzwords from press releases, speeches, and blog posts, has revealed the top 15 most irritating bits of jargon submitted by editors and correspondents this year.

Collected (not curated) by PR strategist and Buzzsaw founder Hamish Thompson, the list contains the most commonly struck out phrases the tool tends to find, based on submissions in the UK, US and Australia.

Read more: Coronavirus named children's word of the year

No doubt you’ll find some phrases that have kick started some teeth clenching irritation when reading them, we mean who doesn’t find it cringey when you get an email offering to “reach out” or “circle back”, and don’t even get us started on those who hope to change things “going forward.”

It seems the recent coronavirus pandemic has had an influence on the most annoying buzzwords this year with “in the time of COVID-19” making the top 15, along with finding “the new normal” and “remaining cautious”.

Read more: The science behind the perfect hug

“Fake news” has also been judged to be worthy of a place, alongside anyone offering “solutions” to a problem.

Here’s the full list of the top 15 alongside the judges’ crushing comments.

The 2020 Buzzsaw Hall of Shame (Comments below are supplied by judges)

Curated - Judge’s comment: “A word that has been brutalised by Hipster culture. Google practically anything – potatoes, burgers, you name it – and there’ll be a curated list somewhere in the world. To make it worse, lists are often ‘carefully curated’, which is tautologous.”

Content - Judge’s comment: “Second only to the vacuum of space as the emptiest thing in the universe. It’s like calling literature or journalism ‘words’. It’s the high watermark in the commoditisation of writing.”

Disambiguate - Judge’s comment: “A word that rather cleverly obscures the thing it seeks to clarify. Like spraying mud on windows to clean them.”

Human Capital - Judge’s comment: “The latest in the personnel department’s march towards balance sheet.”

The new normal - Judge’s comment: “Unfortunately it is catching on. I get hundreds of emails a week that reference this phrase.”

In the time of Covid’ - Judge’s comment: “Gabriel Garcia Marquez it ain’t.”

Reach out - Judge’s comment: “My standard response is ‘back off’.”

Circle back - Judge’s comment: “Sigh. Incoming Halley’s Comet press release.”

Ideation’ - Judge’s comment: “A bold attempt to make a bad idea sound better than it is by diverting our attention.”

Bake - Judge’s comment: “Please stop using this as a noun. It is a loaf or a cake. It is not a bake.”

Fake news - Judge’s comment: “An oxymoron of such heft that only a moron could coin it. Unfortunately it has caught on.”

Mainstream media - Judge’s comment: “A tedious blamefest, thinly disguising a lack of ability to debate properly.”

We remain cautious - Judge’s comment: “On a quarterly basis, listed companies invite their advisors to visit them and help them draft their financial results statement, including the outlook statement. These three opaque words are the most overused and expensive a company will ever buy.”

Going forward… - Judge’s comment: “I long for the day someone writes ‘going backward’.”

Solutions - Long-time Hall of Shame member, best exemplified by the sticker company that describes itself as ‘a global leader in adhesive labelling solutions’.

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