Most Commonly Overused Words

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Most Commonly Overused Words

As writers we are ALL guilty of overusing some words to the point we begin to appear repetitive, monotonous, obvious, cliché, and outright boring.

There are many different reasons why we as writers always default back to familiar words and the most common reason is lack of vocabulary.  Now, I don’t claim to be a walking dictionary and I have to use online resources quite often when I’m trying to figure out a better word to use than one that is “common” or “familiar”.

There are times when using a common or familiar word is absolutely appropriate and then there are those times where you want to spice things up a bit with a word that gives more meaning, texture, punch, value, or creative twist.  The most frequently overused words are adjectives.  According to Grammarly here are the top most overused adjectives.

  1. Other – alternative, further, different
  2. More – additional, incremental, greater
  3. New – state of the art, updated, modern
  4. Good – excellent, decent, worthy
  5. Best – perfect, incomparable, leading
  6. Many – multitude, handful, numerous, thousands, or just be specific with an exact #
  7. Important – critical, urgent, essential
  8. Great – awesome, fantastic, wonderful
  9. First – initial, principal, number one
  10. Able – instead of saying are you able, ask can you do this, support this, or even handle this. Able is too generic of a word.  They may be able to but the real question is can they do, support, or handle it?


As you can see there are alternative words for these commonly used adjectives and this is just the beginning.  Most times when you are writing that first or rough draft you will notice you writing the first thing that enters your mind.  That is not always bad, but as you develop the skill of being more descriptive in your writing style you will avoid using frequently overused words.  You will want to re-read your work to catch missed words.  I’ll give you a quick example my book Leadership Secrets Every Leader Should Know took me 3 months to write and 6 months to edit.  I meticulously scoured every single line and although that book may not be perfect, it is how I wanted it to sound; because I write like I talk.

One word that I struggle with is the word to.  I can tell you that I wrote a sentence one time that had the word to in it at least 4 times.  That is ridiculous to think about.

Finding alternative words to spice up your writing is important but how about words you should delete from your writing. Here is a short list of what I like to call ENHANCEMENT words that are useless and overused.

  1. Really
  2. Very
  3. That
  4. Just
  5. Then
  6. Totally
  7. Completely
  8. Absolutely
  9. Literally
  10. Definitely
  11. Certainly
  12. Probably
  13. Basically
  14. Virtually
  15. Rather
  16. Quite
  17. Somewhat
  18. Somehow
  19. Said
  20. Replied
  21. Asked

If a sentence makes sense without these words, then remove them.  Removing these words will speed up the pace, action, and dialogue of your writing.  It will also make your writing look more professional.

What do you think?  This is an interesting list, right?


Comment below, what are some words you overuse or found to be useless in your writing?

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