May I have a word about… the overuse of the word ‘incredible’

·2 min read

Last week, I wrote about a woman who works in my local whose favourite word is “awesome”. She also has a couple of other choice ones that she trots out with annoying regularity – “amazing” and “incredible”.

The latter would most certainly not please a reader, Dr Rod Sandler, who sent me the following complaint: “Am I the only one to notice the excessive use of the word ‘incredible’ in recent years? In broadcast talks or interviews it appears in almost every sentence and often in oxymoronic expressions such as ‘incredibly reliable’ or even ‘incredibly truthful’. What’s wrong with ‘very’ or ‘remarkably’ or ‘truly’?” I couldn’t agree more, Dr Sandler, but as I don’t think she reads the Observer, I fear your justified beef will fall on deaf ears.

It’s been a bumper week for disgruntled readers of this column. Morris Globe of Manchester had a few things he wanted to get off is chest: “Just: as in just last week, when it should be only last week”; “touching base: making contact”; and “The one I cannot stand is various/different – one or the other but not both!!”

Many thanks to Mike Nichol for the following: “Jonathan Bouquet’s article reassured me that I am not alone in railing against the tsunami of cliches that now creates daily a perfect storm of verbal and garbage. It is surely not rocket science for journalists and broadcasters to draw a line in the sand and embargo phrases now well beyond their sell-by date.”

And finally to Melvin Hurst who rightly bemoaned recently the use of the word “tsar”. He tells me he emailed the BBC, suggesting that it use “adviser” and was gratified to hear the same programme as I did, when that was the very word used. Who says it’s not worth complaining?

• Jonathan Bouquet is an Observer columnist

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