Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Irritating word of the day

“Impactful.”

As used this morning in the NY Times by Thomas Friedman: “The two most impactful secretaries of state in the last 50 years were [James] Baker and Henry Kissinger.”

Besides being one of those buzz-words that has surfaced in marketing lingo and therefore irritating by proxy, it is also a painfully ugly and awkward word to hear—especially considering the array of alternatives one may use, such as “effective,” “successful,” or “accomplished.” If one really wants to stress their impact however, can we not just use the actual word “impact” without resorting to awkward adjectival distortions? As in: “The two secretaries of state with the greatest impact on foreign affairs were James Baker and Henry Kissinger.”

Thomas Friedman: you’re on notice. You’ve recouped a lot of ground with me since endorsing the Iraq war by tacitly acknowledging your error, and further with your calls for realigning the energy industry with green innovation.

But seriously, “impactful”? You watch yourself.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't even like impact as a verb. Unless you're talking about teeth. And no one ever is.
Amy

Nikki Stafford said...

While "perfect storm" irritates the hell out of me whenever I hear it used (which is about 63 times a day), I'm bothered more by words that are just plain wrong. The one that bugs me the most is "irregardless." And penultimate, when used to mean "THE ultimate." Wait, okay, the TWO words that bug me the most are irregardless and penultimate, used incorrectly. And ironic, when used incorrectly. Argh... okay, AMONG the words that bug me are irregardless or penultimate and ironic, used incorrectly. ;)

But you're right, impactful is an ugly word.

Now I've got to go find the comfy chair and torture some people with bad grammar.

Andrew said...

i like that there is regardless and irregardless. "'Inflammable' means 'flammable'? What a country!"

and speaking of nyt op-eds, how bout the insightful, pragmatic solution for the auto industry... by mitt romney?? romney-palin 2012 just might be the really really ridiculously good looking religious duo to take down obama after he presides over a shitty economy for 4 years. americaaa, fuck yeah!