Quick Tips: Overused Words and Phrases

Posted by on Jul 20, 2013 in Quick Tips | 0 comments

Quick Tips: Overused Words and Phrases

During the revision process of novel writing, you can quickly eliminate overused words and phrases once you know what some of these redundancies are. Please don’t feel ashamed if it has never occurred to you these words are unnecessary or overused; they plague the best of writers. The quick tip today is training the eye to recognize them so your work flows, it reads smoothly, and your writing is stronger.

Below are some lists of very common unnecessary and overused words and phrases.

Unnecessary Overused Words

    • is
    • are
    • has
    • that
    • just
    • a little
    • likely
    • probably
    • either
    • too
    • just
    • really
    • pretty
    • very
    • suddenly
    • all of a sudden
    • anyway
    • also
    • as well
    • looked
    • now
    • know
    • see
    • reach
    • even
    • watch
    • eyes
    • smile
    • however
    • although
    • though
    • all
    • got
    • often
    • almost
    • seem
    • think
    • very
    • bit
    • went
    • never
    • something
    • always
    • awesome

Overused Phrases and Idioms

    • it’s only a matter of time
    • calm before the storm
    • before she/he knew it
    • in a instant
    • opening a can of worms
    • let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding
    • not my thing
    • it’s not you, it’s me
    • pull a fast one
    • can I take a rain check?
    • you don’t know the half of it
    • what she didn’t know
    • ruffled feathers
    • missing the boat
    • curves in all the right places
    • around the bend
    • broke out of my reverie
    • larger than life
    • break a leg
    • happily ever after

Also look out for redundant pairs or words that describe the same thing. The following list from Purdue Online Writing Lab is great.

Redundant Pairs

    • past memories
    • various differences
    • each individual
    • basic fundamentals
    • true facts
    • important essentials
    • future plans
    • terrible tragedy
    • end result
    • final outcome
    • fee gift
    • past history
    • unexpected surprise
    • sudden crisis

There are hundreds of examples of words, phrases, idioms, and redundant pairs—too many to put into one article—but you get the drift. These are shortened lists, but you can  find more by searching the Internet. A great reference is an article by Richard Nordquist called 200 Common Redundancies.

Other Great Resources

Dead Words

Five Weak Words that Make Your Writing Less Effective

Awesome: The Most Overused Word In English

Commonly Overused Words and Phrases

Lauren Schmelz (127 Posts)

Lauren Schmelz has been in the publishing and broadcasting field for over twelve years. She got her start editing and producing traffic news for local news affiliates in St. Louis, Missouri (NBC, CBS, and FOX). For the last four years, Lauren has worked as a freelance editor/manuscript advisor. Lauren was Managing Editor of Manuscript Development for the last year and a half at a small independent publisher. Currently, Lauren is a founding Diva with Write Divas and specializes in manuscript development, content editing, copy editing, marketing, and publicity. As COO of Write Divas LLC, Lauren oversees the daily operations of staff and client projects to optimize efficiency and serve authors with the highest quality of work whether it is the edit of their manuscript or the promotion of their marketing campaign and blog tour. She is married and has two young daughters. When Lauren isn’t editing or reading manuscripts, she is busy playing with her kids and exploring her hometown of St. Louis with her family. She is an avid reader, writer, movie enthusiast, and generally a smartass. Lauren hopes to publish her first book within the year. Lauren has worked with such authors as: M.A. Stacie, C.L Parker, Brian Sweany, Suzy Duffy, Jennifer Schmidt, Alexandra Richland, Alexandra Allred, Michele Richard, Liv Morris, and Joey Mills.


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