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A Series of Unfortunate Events

By Tater Barley Banks | Comment Diversions | June 26, 2010 |

By Tater Barley Banks | Comment Diversions | June 26, 2010 |

I work with words for a living — other people’s words. I’m a copy editor.

I’ve been doing it for decades, so I’m finely attuned to when buzzwords enter the lexicon.

I fucking hate fucking buzzwords.

Last year the popular buzzword was “multiple.” For hundreds of years we were doing just fine with “a few” and “some” and “many” and “a metric fuckton,” which, while still vague, are at least relatively specific. No one thinks “a few” means more than, say, 10, and no one thinks “metric fuckton” means fewer than, say, eleventybillion.

Then along came “multiple,” which is every bit as vague as “a few” if not moreso (it means, by my reckoning, anywhere from “two” to “infinity”), but also has the benefit of being longer, and longer ALWAYS makes the user seem more smartr. Plus, it made its way over from police jargon (“multiple gunshot wounds”), so it sounds official. It’s a handy word for a writer who doesn’t want to be bothered finding out exactly how many.

Now there may be times when “multiple” has valid uses, but very few (see what I did there) in my experience, and certainly far fewer than many writers think. It’s often attached as an adjective to words that are already plural (more than one thing), without a thought to the redundancy involved. I have — no lie — seen “multiple children” in print. I have yet to see “multiple fuckton” but I don’t get around much.

This year’s buzzword is “event.” It’s a nice, handy, absolutely empty word that conveys zero information.

Hello, I’m holding an event. Would you like to come to my event? It’ll be a fun event. There will be multiple people there, and almost all of them will still be alive when it’s over! So please come to my event. In the event of rain, it will be held outside.


So “event” tells me nothing, and yet I have never seen it used more often. Stores don’t have sales anymore, they have sales events. TV shows don’t have premiers, they have premier events. Nissan held a “national tent event” and Dodge held a “minivan event.” And earlier this year, near the start of spring, someone held (I am not making this up) not an Easter egg hunt but an “Easter egg event.”

Well, thanks for letting me know. What, exactly, does one do at an Easter egg event, and is black tie and tails and a shotgun appropriate?

And now, Godtopus help me, I’m even seeing ads on TV for an X-Files looking show called: “The Event.”

Those are the words that make me splodey at the moment. Other words, of course, bother other people. Here’s an example:

Besides the 750 or so I just wrote, tell me which words bug you.

And — why not? — tell me which words just don’t get used often enough. (I’m partial to “junta,” so I’m happy anytime some country’s military leaders overthrow the government. Shout-out, Myanmar!)

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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