I like learning new words and how to use them. But a lot of times in school, the vocab was stupid -- words I already knew how to spell and use with ease. So it was boring and tedious. And there were no points for going "off the reservation" and using your own words when vocab was required. *le sigh*

Last night, a friend related that her daughter received a D- on a paper (the first week of school, no less) because, get this, she didn't use the vocabulary they studied (but were not told they were required to use) in describing the water cycle. Never mind that she explained the cycle perfectly. Because she used her own words (btw, a hallmark of actual comprehension and successful learning), she got a bad grade. What kind of lesson is that setting?

If school values using only certain words, then it should come as no surprise that most press releases  deploy a couple dozen buzz words and terms ad infinitum. Here are the top 5 of 100 offenders from a list developed by Adam Sherk (that's him over there) and posted on his blog at AdamSherk.com

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leading

best

top 

unique

The entire post is truly worth a read, and you can do that here (don't skip the comments, either).

We've all been guilty of relying on these terms too heavily, especially when we're tired or bored or rushed. But now that Mr. Sherk has gone to the trouble to document the over-use, I'm challenging our team to check ourselves off against this list. If there's a better word that doesn't change the meaning or is inappropriate for the audience or purpose of the piece (and good Lord knows there probably is), I want us to choose that word instead. How 'bout you? Wanna join us in The Word Factory Vocabulary Challenge?