Correcting language usage does have some place in the world… not because it’s important to put i before e except after c, but in order to maintain the utility of specific terms (or even grammatical moods). However, doing it in most social situations makes you an asshole. I am therefore listing some instances below where I have had to Bite My Tongue. This excludes my more specific beef with “the point”. Broadly, I tend to get most annoyed by a lot of these where the misuses originate in people wanting to sound fancy.

begs the question

Unless you are pointing out that someone’s beginning their argument with a supposition (like “Let’s say…”) had covertly supposed the very truth of the thing they’re supposed to be arguing for, you should probably be using “raises the question”.


Disinterested is what a judge needs to be. Disinterested is a term for ethics committee hearings. The word you probably wanted is uninterested.


A group can be diverse. An individual cannot. You can (and should) have a diverse candidate pool. You cannot have a diverse candidate. This misuse isn’t about a mistaken word or a misapplied term–it seems like a slip that reveals a shallow understanding of diversity.


“Emergent” is not the adjectival form of “emergency”. I wonder sometimes if people make this mistake because it rhymes with “urgent”, a word that is pretty much what they mean…

filter bubble

Filter bubble is not synonymous with “digital echo chamber”. It also does not refer to homophily, the proximity principle, or group polarization.


via wiki:

The concept is first described by philosopher of language John L. Austin when he referred to a specific capacity: the capacity of speech and communication to act or to consummate an action. Austin differentiated this from constative language, which he defined as descriptive language that can be “evaluated as true or false”. Common examples of performative language are making promises, betting, performing a wedding ceremony, an umpire calling a strike, or a judge pronouncing a verdict.

Influenced by Austin, philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler argued that gender is socially constructed through commonplace speech acts and nonverbal communication that are performative, in that they serve to define and maintain identities. This view of performativity reverses the idea that a person’s identity is the source of their secondary actions (speech, gestures). Instead, it views actions, behaviors, and gestures as both the result of an individual’s identity as well as a source that contributes to the formation of one’s identity which is continuously being redefined through speech acts and symbolic communication.

Wilfred McClay in the Hedgehog Review:

When the bride and groom say “I do” in their marriage ceremony, or when the officiant pronounces them man and wife, when promises are made and words of permission are granted, when a will orders the bequest of a precious object, and in fact in nearly all contracts—the language being used is performative in character. It is language that does not merely describe something. It enacts something.

There is much more to be said about Austin’s thought and its successors, but the simple point is that performative speech, rightly understood, is the very opposite of speech that is phony or used only for show (though it may well appear theatrical).

If what you mean is “for show”, “insincere”, or “lip service”, please say one of those instead. This is a really useful term that describes a particular thing, and its increasingly common misuse is degrading that usefulness.


“Stop romanticizing [X]! Its actually a big dramatic emotional struggle involving alienation”

I have seen this expressed more times than I can count and every single time I despair.

Wanderer above the Sea of Fog - Wikipedia

If you’re not immediately familiar with this painting and its relevance, you will probably be safer substituting “idealize” for “romanticize”.