Friday, June 15, 2007

Proactive Honky Tonk Sputum

We once had an office-survey-contest thingy. One question was What is your least favorite word? I said "proactive". (I said my favorite was "honky tonk".)* The next day we met with the boss. He said "proactive" about a dozen times in half an hour. I went into a secret tizzy and discreetly changed my least favorite word to "sputum".**

What is your least favorite word?

* The favorite / least favorite word questions gave people a lot of trouble. Far and away the most popular answers were the decidedly simpy: favorite word, "yes"; least favorite word: "no". (Really? Really? If I were to ask you, "Would you like a heaping serving of scorpions?", how would you choose to answer? Hmm?) The worst pair of answers was: favorite word, "Confederate"; least favorite word, "Union" (given by the guy with the big bushy mustache who spent his weekends doing Civil War reenactments). This response was both generally kind of weird and creepy and remarkably impolitic given that the owners of the company were black.

** "Sputum" is actually a wonderful word—though it's sort of wonderfully awful.


  1. AFAICT the least favorite word among women is;


    Please feel free to delete this comment if it offends anything special to you.

    I don't have a least favorite word. I like all of them at times including the one mentioned above as used in "Midnight Fever".

  2. revisit as in scenario
    to die for
    foam (when on my plate)

  3. self-actualization


  4. Anonymous9:57 AM

    love/hate this one:


  5. Anonymous11:19 AM


    The worst offense in recent memory was via a former curator of the CAC who wanted to form a new art group called "neo-contemporary."

    that hurts

    Schmuck, however, is one of those brilliant yiddish terms which is in reality much more offensive than it seems. You can kind of get away with calling someone a schmuck, whereas, calling them a penis would be a bit vulgar.

    love it

  6. There was a German-born designer guy at one company I worked at who was extremely fond of using the word (if it *is* a word) "aspirational" whenever he talked about his designs. He was so annoying -- and you have to really say it with the German accent -- "the colors here are very aspirational, mm-hmmm" -- that it became top of my least favorite words list. Sounds a bit similar to your experience with "proactive", perhaps. And in the same category as "self-actualization". Eek.

    Also, in general terms, I dislike it when people verb nouns, e.g. "can you action this".

  7. Utilize. There is never any reason to use that word. Ever.
    Go to a meeting of teachers and you will hear these:


    Hate 'em all.