Common Words and Phrases You Should Evict From Your Vocabulary

Tuesday, November 283 min read

"Redundant," "overused," "clunky" — if any of these adjectives can be applied to your speech or writing, it's time to clean up your vocabulary. We're not talking about putting a dollar in the swear jar. Excising redundant and overused phrases from your speech will make you sound more polished, and save time and space in your writing. And while it may not be blatantly obvious (can you see why that two-word phrase is redundant?) that these terms need to go, you'll be making cuts throughout your lexicon after this quick explainer.

Added Bonus

"Added" does not need to be used with the word "bonus," as in the context, "As an added bonus, we'll throw in airfare for free." This phrase is redundant — by definition, a bonus is "something in addition to what is expected." The correct usage would be, "As a bonus, we'll throw in airfare for free."

Blatantly Obvious

These paired words mean the same thing. "Blatant" means "in an open and unashamed manner," and "obvious" means "easily perceived or understood; clear, self-evident, or apparent." There is no need to use both at the same time — "obvious" is obvious enough.

Close Proximity

This faux pas likely stems from a misunderstanding of the word "proximity," which means "nearness in space, time, or relationship." A sentence such as, "The store was in close proximity to her apartment," is therefore redundant and can be shortened to "The store was in proximity to her apartment."

Each and Every

While commonly used in casual speech, this phrase is best kept out of formal writing because of its redundancy. "Each" means "every one of two or more people or things," and "every" refers to "all individual members of a set without exception." Using both words isn't necessary.

Exact Same

"Exact same" means the exact same thing; there is no need to use both words. "Exact" means "not approximated in any way; precise," and "same" means "identical; not different."

Few in Number

Instead of "The volunteers were few in number," save yourself a few words and say, "The volunteers were few." It means the same thing because "few" means "a small number of."

Final Outcome

By definition, "outcome" is "the way a thing turns out" or "consequence," implying it is the end. This means that "final" is redundant and can be eliminated.

In order to

"He began reading more in order to improve his vocabulary," can be easily cleaned up. "In order" is usually unnecessary, so the sentence can be shortened to, "He began reading more to improve his vocabulary." Now it's straight to the point.

Join Together

"Join" already means "link" or "connect," so adding "together" is redundant. Instead of saying, "Join together hands," simply say, "Join hands."


A good rule of thumb for crutch words (also called "filler" words) is to take them out of the sentence and see if it still makes sense. If it does, you can remove them. For example, "She just didn't listen to the instructions" means the same thing as "She didn't listen to the instructions." Sometimes, "just" is needed for emphasis, but typically, it's not.

Point in Time

Sometimes extra words are a cushion, or a way of hedging a statement if you're not confident. "At this point in time, we believe our results are accurate." This phrase can often be removed altogether, as in, "We believe our results are accurate," or at the very least, replaced with "now," as in, "We now believe our results are accurate." Along with making a cut to the writing, you've also added a layer of confidence to the statement.

Protest Against

To protest is to "express an objection" to something, making the word "against" redundant. Instead of saying, "The group protested against animal testing," you can say simply, "The group protested animal testing."


Sometimes, "that" is needed for clarification, but if a sentence still makes sense without it, you can omit it. For example, "This is the best book that I've ever read," can be shortened to "This is the best book I've ever read."


While they are called "intensifiers," these words make your sentences sound weaker. "She was very/really excited to work at the new firm," can easily be shortened to, "She was excited to work at the new firm." Even better, replace both the intensifier and the verb ("excited") with a stronger verb: "She was delighted to work at the new firm."

Featured image credit: PeopleImages/ iStock

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