Jargon, cliché, officious language and tired words

Jargon, cliché, officious language and tired words

There are certain words in English that do their jobs very well without drawing too much attention to themselves. We use them all the time in conversation, which means that they haven’t picked up any unpleasant connotations. Using them is the easiest way to improve your tone of voice – or, in other words, the easiest way to make your readers understand quickly and easily what you are trying to say, and think well of you.

Jargon, cliché, officious language and tired words all have the opposite effect. By replacing them with neutral, conversational language, you can get your messages to slip into your readers’ consciousness effortlessly, like the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down.

Not all of the suggested replacements will work every time – you’ll need to think of your own. And some of the officious words have their place: sometimes “within” is precisely the right word. The point is that people who have an officious tone habitually use “within” where “in” would work just as well, and their off-putting tone of voice is the cumulative effect of hundreds of these little choices of words.








bring someone into the loop

tell someone what’s going on


adjusted, changed, altered, fixed, amended, adapted, tailored, modified, tweaked

going forward

in future (in almost every case “going forward” can be deleted altogether without harming the sense of the sentence)


here’s or here is

is a driver for (as in “the market is a driver for companies to assess risk accurately”)

forces, compels, makes, encourages (or turn the sentence around and use the word “because”)


important, vital, essential, main, significant, weighty, momentous, far-reaching, crucial, urgent, serious, valuable, considerable – or just leave it out

make sure we’re all on the same page

make sure we all agree / know what’s going on


improve, counter, counteract, alleviate, temper, reduce



opportunities explored

options considered, alternatives weighed up, preferences chosen, decisions taken


point of view

please do not hesitate to contact me

I’m around tomorrow if you want to catch up / give me a call – or email – if you’d like to have a chat

please find attached

I have attached / the file I’ve attached shows…

progress (as a verb)

get going / sort out / deal with (or say what you will actually do)

reflect (as in “increased the director’s pay to reflect the excellent performance of the business”)

recognise, show, demonstrate, reveal, bear out, indicate, express (or, best of all, turn the sentence around and use the word “because”)

reflect (as in “members should reflect on whether…”)

decide (best because it requires something to happen as a result of the reflection), consider, make up one’s mind, make a decision, think about, deliberate, discuss

regarding / with regard to


scope (as in “a further review of the scope of the VAT exemption”)

extent, range, reach, span, ambit, breadth, limits, area

scope (as in “the scope of the work” or “outside of scope”)

remit, programme, task, job we were asked to do

scope (as in “there is scope for further acquisitions”)

possibility, prospect, potential, promise, capability, option, choice, opportunity, leeway, capacity, latitude (or change the sentence: “we could make further acquisitions”, “further acquisitions are possible”)

step change

transformation, revolution, renewal, reorganisation, metamorphosis

subject to

depending on / when / if / as long as

take forward

lead, develop, introduce, complete (or better still say what will actually be done)







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