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Oct 2 / King Kaufman

Getting that falling in love with a word vibe? Be alternative-centric

On the grammar-centric New York Times blog After Deadline, Philip B. Corbett, the associate managing editor for standards, writes about how his colleagues have fallen in love with the suffix “centric”:

A careful reader pointed out this increasingly common device: modifiers coined by tacking “centric” on to just about every noun in sight.

By my count, we’ve used “-centric” almost 150 times in print stories so far this year — compared with 72 times in 2000 and just 24 in 1995.

Corbett also points out that Times writers have fallen hard for the word “vibe,” as in something giving off a “futuristic vibe” or a place having a “child-friendly vibe”—which may or may not be the same thing as being “child-friendly.”

Or, you know, child-centric.

Referring to “centric,” Corbett writes, “It may have been fresh and engaging once; not anymore. Let’s try to be more judicious and look for alternatives.”

It’s easy to fall into habits with words, especially trendy words. As a slang phrase or something like the “centric” suffix gains popularity, we might not even notice that it’s starting to pop up in our writing, sometimes to the point of overuse. Hey, it is what it is.

I can remember the very first time I heard the phrase “at the end of the day.” A British guy said it, and I was struck by how odd it sounded to me. Some time between that day and a few years ago, it became so ubiquitous among Americans that I would never allow it into copy I’d written or was editing.

What words are you using too much?

  • Greg Pearl

    It may be a bit of a gimme, but I’m with Tony Reali—I need to throw the word “elite” out the window and think of a more creative way to describe top athletes.

    • King_Kaufman

      Yes you do, Greg. And I’m sorry but no, “bitchin’” isn’t a good alternative.

  • Chris Stephens

    “Simply put”…I tend to do that after I present stats that are overwhelmingly in favor of a player or team, while trying to hammer home a point.

  • Schottey