September 23, 2012
A Literary Dictionary of Crutch Words
"Basically," "um," "honestly," "it is what it is," "right?" are frequently used crutches, words which The Atlantic Wire's Jen Doll defines as "those expressions we pepper throughout our language as verbal pauses, and sometimes as written ones, to give us time to think, to accentuate our meaning (even when we do so mistakenly), or just because these are the words that have somehow lodged in our brains and come out on our tongues the most, for whatever reason. Quite often, they do little to add meaning, though. Sometimes we even use them incorrectly. Almost always, we don't need them at all, which doesn't mean we won't persist in using them."
Doll lists frequently used crutch words and "what your crutch of choice has to reveal about you" at Actually, Literally, What Your Crutch Word Says About You. Reader responses resulted in a list of additional crutches at A Literal Epidemic of Crutch Words. Bruce Carton chimes in at Breaking Down the 'Crutch Words' in Legal Blogging on Legal Blog Watch. [JH]