Omission impossible: Words we can’t stand

Published July 20, 2020, 2:30 PM

by MB Lifestyle

Illustration by Ariana Maralit

Words have a personality and, like personalities, we either like them or we don’t. There has been an uproar over Merriam-Webster’s decision to acknowledge irregardless as a word and so, whether we personally accept it or not, it is now worth 11 points in a game of Scrabble. Riding on the tsunami of strong feelings against this new dictionary entry, we put our heads together at Manila Bulletin Lifestyle to decide which words we love to hate. What’s yours?

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Honestly? Because it sounds like you’re lying, preparing to tell a lie, have lied the rest of the time, except for when you used it as a qualifier, or you’re just sassing me, trying to pick a fight, going to tell me bad news. Or maybe you’re trying to sound like an ‘80s-era Valley girl. There has never been a good outcome after the word honestly. —Krizette Chu


We can use a stronger word to mean the greatness of something. So instead of adding this adverb, why not be more direct and concrete? If you’re going for tone, be careful because some might not appreciate it. As in, totally.—Rey Robes Ilagan


I would like to remove the word remove from the dictionary. First and foremost, remove defies it own intent “to get rid of (something or someone)” because the prefix re means “again” or “anew.” —Noel B. Pabalate

Illustration by Mikailain

Though I say this word a lot, I wish they would remove it from the dictionary. On one hand, some say sorry and think it solves everything. It doesn’t. Or they say sorry to give them an excuse to not try their best. On the other hand, some say sorry because they second guess
everything they do. I say sorry because of shame over small things, like saying sorry. Somebody told me I should say “thank you” instead. As in, thank you for your patience when late. Or thank you for your advice when someone points out something wrong. Thank you for helping me grow. Appreciate that people around you are not trying to undermine you, they are trying to help. Sorry for rambling. I mean, thank you for reading. —Kerry Tinga


Used in the right context, realness simply means a “state of being real” or “not imagined.” So imagine my surprise when I heard realness being used during the launch of a building’s showroom when an office space was classified as “executive realness.” I think their copywriter must have watched numerous episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I relayed to them the historical context of the word realness, which was used in the ‘80s ballroom scene in New York, where gay men would “walk” the balls to project a certain illusion, such as “executive realness” (where they would copy the look and stance of Wallstreet-type managers), “femme/ butch queen realness,” or “extravaganza eleganza realness” (to show wealth via faux fur coats and fake jewelry). I thought it was just a one-time thing. Then I read a brochure on a Tagaytay property that advertised its homes as having “log cabin realness.” No, I said. Then another press release mentioned “vacation home realness.” No! No! —Johannes L. Chua 


It boggles my mind when people prefer “firstly” over “first.” Even though this word is found in the dictionary, I find the suffix “ly” superfluous. Remember the adage “less is more.” Take out the unnecessary elements and keep it simple. —Jane Kingsu Cheng

Screen shot from BIGBANG’s Fantastic Baby MV

It does not give Mr. Fox the justice he deserves! It makes you sound like a first-grader trying to copy new English words from Spongebob, a K-Pop group throwing the only English word into the hook 80 times in the span of four minutes, or a one hit-wonder scrambling for words that rhyme with “plastic” to create an internalized misogynistic ‘90s bubblegum trash pop. I have to admit I might have used it back in first grade and in high school, but only ironically, or maybe when I had to cook up stupid puns for branded content like FUNtastic, God forbid! —Vianca Gamboa


Have you ever heard someone say, “I was literally scared to death?” That’s impossible, because the dead can’t talk. Literally, which simply means “in a literal or strict sense,” has been misused by everyone, and it’s possible it will stay astray from its meaning. Nothing has done much to discourage the incorrect usage of the word, though. Watch any talk show or listen to any
conversation and “literally’’ will pop up as often as “like’’ or “um.” —Paola Navarette

Image by life in the boomer lane

An influencer is a person on social media with a vast following. I see it as an irresponsible word as it gives power to anyone only because of their large audience. Some of these so-called influencers even refer to themselves as content creators, bloggers, or Youtubers, which I think is more appropriate. Unlike influencer, words like leader, guru, or expert require more than just a solid fan base. Even Jesus had a great following, but he had to demonstrate a few miracles to be worthy. —John Legaspi


Seeing mkay written in the Oxford dictionary is not okay. This non-standard spelling of the word okay only makes sense when spoken, not when written. After all, it’s typically used at the end of an uttered statement to invite agreement, approval, or confirmation. No one uses it (at least not in my 23 years of existence and, with hope, in the years to come) when expressing any of the three. So until Oxford officially removes it in its dictionary, I won’t be okay with mkay. —Angela Casco  


Noun. A sweet lie.

Portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte by Ernest Crofts.

Often made with good intentions, this legally binding declaration gives the person to whom it is addressed a right to expect the performance or forbearance of an act. It is debt unpaid, according to British-Canadian poet Robert William Service. The term, at least for me, also sounds like it’s
begging for trust, which should be earned and freely given. Talk is cheap. An assurance has little to no value at all. Just do the deed and be done with it. As Napoleon Bonaparte put it, “The best way to keep one’s word is not to give it.” —Jules Vivas