Are You Sure That's a Word?

Feb 7, 2013

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Scott Christofferson


I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not an authoritarian who exists to decide whether or not a word is real or completely made up. In almost any language, there is a complicated and imperfect process of deciding the correct form of a word and what variants are unacceptable and incorrect.

Although many of these made-up words get the point across, they are not acceptable in business writing or in professional settings so make sure you’re not letting any of these words slip into your vocabulary.

Here are a few of my favorite words that are currently under scrutiny (and I hear them quite often):

A Few of My Favorites


This is an unnecessary extension of regardless on the analogy of irrespective but ignoring that regardless


As with secondly and thirdly, they are all incorrect when numbering points; use first and so on


An incorrect variant of supposedly


An incorrect variant of undoubtedly


Rarely appears in print, but a frequent error in conversation (Why isn’t height modeled on the form of depth, length, and width? Because it doesn’t shift in spelling and pronunciation from its associated term, tall, like the others, which are derived from deep, long, and wide, do. Neither do we say or write weighth.)

Throw Them Out

I recommend checking a dictionary if you ever have a question about whether a “word” is really a word. And if you determine that it isn’t a word then you’ll certainly want to throw it out of your vocabulary. What are your favorite made-up words?

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