In Abbott and Costelloâ€™s legendary Bagel Street routine, whenever the word Susquehanna is mentioned, all hell breaks loose.
Thatâ€™s sort of how I feel when I hear the word verbiage.
People often use verbiage when they mean text or copy. â€œWe need to change this verbiage,â€ or â€œWe should add some verbiage here.â€
By definition, verbiage refers to something thatâ€™s excessively wordy, or as M-W puts it â€œA profusion of words usually of little or obscure content.â€
To be sure, itâ€™s a common error. I was in a meeting recently where the V-bomb was dropped four times in just half an hour. Instead of going Susquehanna on them, I kept my mouth shut and tried to look interested.
Worse yet is when people say verbage, a made up word thatâ€™s a combination of verbiage and garbage. As a professional, Iâ€™ll be the judge of whatâ€™s verbiage and whatâ€™s verbage. And what is neither.
Letâ€™s be clear, Iâ€™m not being a language snob. My grammar and usage is nothing to write home about. Not throwing a stapler at someone who misuses the word verbiage — or smashing their Susquehanna hat — is what separates us from the wild beasts.
10 thoughts on “Verbiage: A Word Most Foul”
I’m disappointed. There was no gobshite. Ah, well, we all grow…
Shoot, another missed opportunity to work that one in!
On the other hand, I don’t want people to feel bad about using that word, I just want it to stop. Or I’ll do something crazy.
You would have loved my company’s negotiations with a local healthcare provider. Our well-schooled German attorneys looked quizzically at each other when a local attorney kept using verbiage in reference to certain areas of our finely hand-crafted legal agreement. “Ven you zay verbiage, does zis mean verding? You do know zat verbiage is a pejorative, yesss? Are you inzulting us?” Our Regional Manager used to hum “Deutschland Ã¼ber Alles” whenever this particular attorney came in on the G5.
Attorney fights are much better than Girl fights. About $3,000 an hour worth of entertainment in nice suits. We still got the sale, and a priceless memory of watching some local ‘talent’ take a tremendously expensive verbal bitch-slap. “Your eenglish iz not zo good”
That is exactly what I’ll say next time someone uses that word in a meeting, accent and all: You do know zat verbiage is a pejorative, yesss?
Dude, just throw the stapler. Yes, you’ll fired, but you will have stood up for something that matters.
Ha — thank you, Roz!
My personal pet peeves in this arena include regular misuse of the words “nonplussed” and “methodology” . . .
I also have to grip the stapler tighter when people talk/write about roads to hoe, or mute points . . .
Sllllllooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwlllllllllllly I turn…
I’m late to the party here, but …. “irregardless” there are “a myriad of” expressions and misused phrases that make me grab the stapler, er, nail gun.