Letter From Home: Words matter


I hope you don’t mind if I take up 3 minutes of your time talking shop.

Specifically, tools.

For me, words are tools, and there are a lot of words in our culture that either are new or are being used in new ways. Some of these I find irritating, or fascinating, or both.

So I turned to one of the leading cultural resources of our day — Facebook — to take inventory of some of them that my readers find most irritating.

I started off the discussion with three examples: “Going forward,” “counter-factual” (a doozy I heard on NPR the other day) and “hot mess.”

Then I turned it over to my friends/readers, and they did not disappoint:

“BAE,” as in “before all else.”

“Swag.” Stuff you get at a convention that will clutter your desk for years, or Scientific Wild-A** Guess, similar to “guesstimate.”

“Just sayin'.” Said when offering an opinion while at the same time trying to avoid “blowback,” or harsh criticism.

“Optics.” As in, “The candidate’s response to this issue has bad optics.” (It looks bad.)

“Scribblegraph.” The mark you make on a touch screen at the check-out counter.

“Clean lines.” Architecture or interior design that is devoid of unnecessary stuff.

“Soft modern.” Using wood and other materials to make modern architecture less sterile in appearance.

“Lawyer up.” To hire an attorney, usually with very good reason.

“Recorded live.” Huh?

“Metrics.” In the age of data and spreadsheets (young reporters love both), a way to measure performance or success.

“Functionality.” How something works. Without this word, HGTV would not exist, said a reader.

“Savage.” How teenagers describe someone or something that used to be known as “awesome.”

“Optimize.” To make the most of something.

“Monetize.” To make money from some endeavor.

“Crushed it.” To do something really well.

“Owned it.” See above. Or to admit to fault.

“Trusted advisor,” often accompanied by, “To be honest with you.”

“My bad.” My fault.

“Sad!” Heard in stump speeches, usually when describing something the opposing candidate has done or said.

“Mansplaining.” What a male does when he instead should be listening. Or at least owning it.

“Reaching out.” Communicating in some way.

“At the end of the day.” Formerly, the bottom line.

“I’m done.” I have no desire to continue this discussion.

— At the end of the day, if anyone wants to dispute any of my definitions, please comment at realestate.heraldtribune.com, or at my Facebook page. If I got any of them wrong, my bad. Just sayin'.

Harold Bubil

Recipient of the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award from the American Institute of Architects/Florida-Caribbean, Harold Bubil is real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Born in Newport, R.I., his family moved to Sarasota in 1958. Harold graduated from Sarasota High School in 1970 and the University of Florida in 1974 with a degree in journalism. For the Herald-Tribune, he writes and edits stories about residential real estate, architecture, green building and local development history. He also is a photographer and public speaker. Contact him via email, or at (941) 361-4805.
Last modified: August 12, 2016
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