Commonly Overused Words and How to Avoid Them

If you want to be a skilled English writer, you must learn to avoid commonly overused words. This list will help.

Strong English writing requires unique verbiage. Unfortunately, some words are overused in English, and they make writing weaker. Good writers know to grab a Thesaurus and find synonyms for overused words that pop up in their writing.

If you are working on your English writing, there are some overused phrases and words that are best left alone. Here is a list that will help keep you on track.

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Top 10 Overused Words In The English Language

Commonly overused words

If you’re going to write, you’ll want to scour your writing to make sure you are not guilty of overuse. Here are some overused words that may show up a few too many times. Replace them with new words to strengthen your writing.

1. Other

The word “other” is very versatile, but it is also very over-used. Because it applies to almost any situation, writers are tempted to use it often. However, there are alternatives that work just as well, for instance:

  • Do you have any other suggestions? 
  • Do you have any further suggestions?
  • We were looking for other opinions on the topic.
  • We would love to hear some different opinions on the topic.

2. More

Like “other” the word “more” is a catch-all word. It can refer to many different things, but it is also one of the most boring words in the English language. Instead, look for more interesting words, as in:

  • Please give me more context about the problem.
  • Please give me greater context about the problem.
  • Do you have more room for the furniture?
  • Do you have additional room for the furniture?

3. Good

Good means very little in the English language. It is used so much, it becomes filler. Here are some examples of more descriptive words to use:

  • They had a good afternoon at the beach.
  • They had a relaxing afternoon at the beach.
  • The town got a good amount of snow.
  • The town got a sufficient amount of snow.

4. Best

Like “good,” the word “best” has lost much of its meaning among English words because it is so over-used. Here are some examples that use a better word in place of this superlative.

  • These are the best matching socks for the outfit.
  • These are the perfectly matched socks for the outfit.
  • They felt he was the best expert to interview.
  • They felt he was the leading expert to interview.

5. Important

The word important no longer carries a strong meaning because of how often people are overusing it. Instead, find a more colorful and descriptive word, like these examples:

  • The school board had an important decision to make.
  • The school board had a crucial decision to make.
  • Getting licensed was an important step in starting his career.
  • Getting licensed was an essential step in starting his career.

6. Great/Amazing

Both great and amazing have the same meaning, and these words get used too often. Replace them with something more specific to your meaning, as in these examples:

  • The office had a great amount of debt to consider.
  • The office had a staggering amount of debt to consider.
  • She found an amazing deal on her new dress.
  • She found a remarkable deal on her new dress.

7. Actually

Actually, like many adverbs, gets used far too often, and in places where it is not necessary. In most instances, you can leave off this word, saving it for a competitive game of scrabble, not your writing, and the sentence will make sense. Here are some examples:

  • I actually liked the olives on the pizza.
  • I liked the olives on the pizza
  • I, surprisingly, liked the olives on the pizza.

8. Lots/Lots of

If you want to irritate an editor, use this word repeatedly. It is so over-used that you will get a red pen mark quickly when you do. Instead, find a heftier word, as in these examples:

  • The boy delivered lots of newspapers Saturday morning.
  • The boy delivered a hundred newspapers Saturday morning.
  • She received lots of compliments on her performance.
  • She received many compliments on her performance.

9. Like

The world like is usually a filler. It can be used to mean “enjoy” or “appreciate,” but those are better words to choose. Here are some examples:

  • I like listening to classical music before going to bed.
  • I enjoy listening to classical music before going to bed.
  • They were like sisters, more than friends. 
  • They seemed to be sisters, more than friends.

10. Innovative

Commonly Overused Words: Innovative
In the tech industry, innovative is over-used

In the tech industry, innovative is over-used. Instead, use a word that indicates just why the idea is innovative, such as:

  • The innovative design caught the eye of the tech giant.
  • The state-of-the-art design caught the eye of the tech giant.
  • The Apple Watch gained notoriety because it was an innovative concept.
  • The Apple Watch gained notoriety because it was a ground-breaking concept.

A Final Word on Overused Words

Many overused words creep into American writing. As you consider your own writing, you will want to avoid some of these. You might also find our 20 common synonyms for experience helpful.

By replacing overused words with synonyms, your writing can have more meaning and depth. Keep this list handy as you write, and remove as many of these words as you can to make it stronger. You might also be interested in our list of feeling words.

FAQs on Overused Words

What are overused words or phrases?

Overused words and phrases are words that people use too often in their writing or speech. They often lose their meaning because of this overuse. Writers can replace these with stronger words or synonyms to make their words more interesting. 

How to avoid overused words?

The best way to avoid overused words is to identify them and keep a thesaurus handy to find alternatives. If you know the words you tend to overuse in your writing, you can carefully edit to avoid them.