A small perk of moving is finding all kinds of odds and ends that you haven’t looked at in a few years. Today I came across a box of items from my days as a magazine copy editor. Installment #1: the don’t-do list.

Magazine copy is meant to be breezy, and actually Esquire has mostly good writing, but once in a while I’d come across a lazy word or expression that just had to go on the don’t-do list. The list, which I kept stuck to my monitor, was, despite my convictions, purely for my own personal amusement and catharsis. Some senior editors don’t much care for smart-aleck copy editors who accuse them of bad writing. I guess they prefer to be silently judged.

If any of our word-nerd readers have similar lists they’d like to share (Mrs. Brown? Ms. Squirrel?), I’d love to see them.

but he plays one on TV as in I’m not really a magazine editor with a job pimply little copy editors covet, but I play one on TV.

deconstruct usually intended to mean break down or simplify. Terminology swiped from the works of literary theorist Jacques Lacan in an attempt to appear smart. In the writer’s defense, Lacan probably did really need to take a good, long look at his closet and simplify, simplify, simplify.

Don’t get me wrong: … it’s just … Don’t get me wrong: I do understand Lacan. It’s just that his shoes are hideous.

enough said and, worse, ’nuff said and that is all I will say about this expression; I believe I have said quite enough.

existential usually as a synonym for depressed.

herein, herewith also therein, wherein, etc. tongue-in-cheek appropriation of jargon doesn’t make it any less jargony. At least real jargon is honest.

impossibly he stepped into the impossibly bright morning. liar!

the result: … usually a subset of the old “recipe” formula: Take one Oscar-nominated animal trainer and one saucy lemur. Stir. The result: One Oscar-nominated lemur! 

say, … ; um, … ; well, … falsely apologetic, “stammering” interjections that usually introduce a really awful joke or a really lazy turn of phrase, but that by no means mitigate their dreadfulness. 

Who’s Who when listing an impressive cast. What the hell is a Who’s Who anyway? And why must it almost always be “veritable”?

Zenlike antonym of existential.

Honorable post-Esquire mention, not that you don’t see it in magazines, but I think bloggers are squarely to blame for this one: Attempting. To. Communicate. Emphasis. By. Putting. A. Period. At. The. End. Of. Every. Single. Word. Lame.

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