Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Utilize Caution: Annoyed English Major Ahead

I hate, hate, HATE (note the repetition for emphasis) the word utilize in most contexts.

People USE it all the time as a jargon-y, pretentious, fancy-pants sounding substitute for the simple word use. In fact, it is not a substitute for use. It does not make your writing sound more efficient, technological, or intelligent. You're actually probably using it wrong.

To utilize something is to USE it (to make it usable), usually in a manner for which it was not originally created. For example, if you take the old iMacs and turn them into a fish tank, you are utilizing the iMac in an interesting and clever way. If you pick up a chair and hit someone who just wrote utilize in a paper instead of use, well, then you are utilizing that chair as a weapon to express your frustration at the phrase popping up all over the place.

I'm not usually a stickler enforcer of "correctness". I am all for changes in grammar & style. I know that a living language, which English is, changes or it dies. We introduce new ways to deal with grammar and style problems all the time, and sometimes they fly, sometimes they don't.

But please, if you are writing something for me, USE a perfectly good verb. Don't try too hard to sound smart, because generally, you're going to screw it up if your "util" isn't working correctly. :) And then, you'll just sound pretentious, and I'll whack you with a chair.

5 comments:

slyboots2 said...

My biggest peeve is the misuse of the word "impact". I hate hearing people describe something as having "impacted" something else. That reminds me of what happens when there's not enough fiber in your diet. Makes me crazy, I tell you. Er- like I need a reason...

Pearl said...

yes, like signage instead of signs. a hot air word.

nissa, goddess after five said...

Have you checked out the blog which has the same name as yours with the exception of the word "and"? I accidentally typed it that way one day and found it. I suspect you have a bit of a copycat!

kim wells said...

Ah, it is the same name, yes, basically. And the dandelion graphic is from Vlad Studios-- I got it from the suckmylolly designer, so it's no big. The only thing is-- I've been using the daydreams & dandelions idea since I was about ten. Her blog is much newer, but it's not nearly as fab as mine. :) Plus, I use a cool AMPERSAND in my name.

It would be neat-o if she'd use a different graphic background from mine since the name is so similar. It's not like there aren't a million bazillion dandelions out there one could use. I may have to change my BG just because.

swine said...

ahaha, how about the insufferable: de-plane or de-train. wtf? how's about "disembark" ye feckers.