There was a time not long ago when Shakespearean English was the vernacular of choice. We beseech’d. We doth’d. And of course we twas’d and thy’d as we went about our day.

Until recently. And by recently, I mean a couple of hundred years ago. Something like that.

Historians would have you believe that the language evolved. That it matured to what it is today. But that’s not the real story.

This is the Real Story

It was the late 1600’s. At the center of town was a beautiful tree. Almost cartoonish in its simplicity. This tree was home to a loving little bluebird named Twither. People would come from all over to visit Twither and quickly share what they were doing. For it was believed that Twither would spread their message around the world.

It didn’t take long for the legend of Twither to spread throughout the townsfolk.

A poet and playwright by the name of William Shakespeare heard of such legend and set off to visit the tree of Twither and see for himself. While most would visit Twither sporadically, Shakespeare would spend hours sharing. Talking about his latest poem. Or a new play he was working on. Asking other Tweethers, as they became known, for their address so he could deliver to them a free copy of his latest work.

Low and behold it worked. The legend of Twither had come to be. But only for Shakespeare. It did not work for the others.

It was later argued that perhaps the devil was involved. Rumored witches were burned at the stake. But those who were there, knew the truth. And the truth was that Shakespeare dedicated more time to Twither. He met with others that came to visit Twither. He shared his talents openly and honestly. He fed Twither. And he never lost faith nor left Twithers side.

The fellow townsfolk began to copy Shakespeare’s Twither strategy. They spent more time with Twither. They began creating poorly written works of their own. If they had nothing to say they would quote Shakespeare. And day in and day out they would repeat the same thing to Twither over and over again thinking Twither would be more likely to share their message with the world if repeated.

And before long they killed Twither. Not by hand. Or by weapon.

But by words.

And so began the demise of not only the words that killed Twither, but the language we now know as Shakespearean English.

It’s true.

It was a dark time in our history. And that time is upon us once again. As we continue to abuse the English language, we are destroying what were once powerful words. Words that we have collectively sucked all of the life out of.

And these are the latest victims.


We are living in epic times. All you have to do is stop by your social media flavor of choice and you will be greeted with post after post of “epic shit.” Some videos, some blog posts, some well thought out status updates and memes as far as the eye can see. All of which are epic of course. So, while other generations of the past have had such epic moments as ending World War II, abolishing slavery, walking on the moon, allowing women the right to vote and curing polio, we have chosen a picture of Miley Cyrus dry humping Beetlejuice as our epic moment of choice. Bravo my fellow humans. Bravo.


I think LMAO, or “Laughing My Ass Off” for those that have lived in a cave for the past 15 years, jumped the shark when it somehow found its way into the dictionary. I prefer not to play the roll of grammar police as it would be extremely hypocritical of me considering my grammatical track record, but nevertheless I have a problem with this. One glaring issue is that LMAO is not a word. You can’t pronounce it. And you would never actually say it out loud to someone you are talking to. Beyond that, you are not actually laughing your ass off. You are only humoring me whilst pretending to laugh your ass off. Big difference. And while we’re at it, don’t even get me started on LMAO’s evil cousin ROTFLMAO. WTF? What’s next? TWSFIJSM?


I used to like the word passion. It’s one of those fiery words that get you off your butt. It keeps you up late at night running towards a goal. When you’re passionate about something there is no stopping you. It’s bigger than you. It flows through your veins. It’s something you are willing to trade your life for. Or at least that’s what it used to mean. Nowadays, in this “mine is bigger than yours” society, we have become passionate about everything. And I mean everything. I found someone online that was passionate about peanut butter! Peanut butter!!! Don’t get me wrong. Peanut butter is awesome. You could put peanut butter on an old shoe and if no one is looking, I would probably give it a taste. But to say you are passionate about peanut butter? Doesn’t leave much room for the stuff that actually matters, does it?

Anything Ending in “Preneur”

Entrepreneur, Leaderpreneur, Mompreneur, Solopreneur, Micropreneur and on and on. We get it. Adding “preneur” after whatever it is that you do will add instant credibility. The right dose of “too cool for the room” that you’ve been searching for. Well, you’ve found it. Along with what appears to be 80% of the Internet. The rest of us are no longer impressed by your made up little title. We’re not falling for it. We’re not impressed by it. And quite frankly, we’re tired of hearing it. In fact, we all got together on this while you were not looking and agreed that you sound a bit like a douchebagprenuer.


Someone in a cubicle far far away decided in some grand stroke of genius that I was a “Red Bull Influencer.” It doesn’t matter that I’ve never talked about Red Bull publicly. Or the fact that I have never even tried a Red Bull. yet, somehow I had the ability to influence people enough to receive free Red Bull* in the mail. But that shows you how weak the word influencer has become. Have a Facebook page? You must be an influencer! Have more than 150 followers on Twitter? Influencer! It’s gotten to the point where the best way to not influence people is to be an influencer!

* Full disclosure: I shook up my free Red Bulls and threw them off my building to watch them explode. They did. It was fun. I highly recommend taking free Red Bull and tossing them off a building and watching them explode. On second thought, maybe that’s not a good idea. Forget I said that. I’m a bad influencer. No more free Red Bull for me.


I don’t like the word followers. It wreaks of ego. Something we could use a little less of online. But that’s not really why I don’t like it. The word followers creates a one sided conversation. It implies that those in your community are nothing more than sheeple, but on Twitter. I guess that would make them Shitters? Anyway, the fact that your followers are human beings gets lost in the status that comes with how many you have. They have become nothing more than a number. A badge of honor. And we don’t like being treated like numbers. Maybe if you saw them as members of your digital family, you wouldn’t be so quick to shove links down their throats. You might listen more. Perhaps be more responsive to what they needed and less worried about what you needed. You might actually know their names. Or what their interests were. You would realize how much more valuable each individual is than just another follower.

And There You Have It Folks

A History lesson and an English lesson all rolled into one! But it doesn’t end here. Oh no.

I’m sure there are more that I am either too tired or too lazy to think of right now. Or worse…I use them myself! So, now it’s your turn. What are some of the words that you feel have had the life sucked out of them? Do the world a favor and include them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to have them removed from the Internet.

Bonus points if they are words that I use on a regular basis!

Featured image courtesy of Mateusz Łapsa-Malawski licensed via Creative Commons.

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  • Cliff Huizenga

    A couple of years back, my friends and I had fun buying 1-2 liter bottles of Diet Coke, applying gum-wrapped Mentos to the inner caps, closing, shaking, then tossing as high as possible in the middle of a mall parking lot at midnight and watching the results. Sometimes a second toss was necessary; other times, you’d get a fantastic explosion.

    There’s nothing wrong with suggesting to do the same with Red Bull cans. Shakespeare would be proud. Or not be. …To be or not to be?

    Great post, regardless.

  • Victoria Landis

    You are wonderfully clever. Thanks for my morning chuckle.
    Other words/phrases? How about – ‘At the end of the day’
    and ‘radical’ or ‘rad’ – I know these are oldies, but
    they keep invading my space. Oh, guess that was
    another one?

  • Les Dossey


    I like the way you “shook the shit, out of the bullshit” with this post.

    And since you offered, see if you can do something about removing the words conversion, engagement, stickiness and plusser’s from the internet.

  • Darrell

    Hi Marc!

    I’m with you on all but LMAO. Yes, I know that it’s annoying and trite; however, just like WTF and ROTFL, it is a quick way to write a response online that is not blatantly vulgar and signifies that we (at least I) found what you (or someone else) conveyed to be funny. At least in my case I would not be humoring anyone; i.e. if it doesn’t make me laugh then I don’t write anything!

    As far as never actually saying “I’m laughing my ass off’ out loud in a conversation…guilty. Maybe it’s just that I am older than you.

    On the other hand, I am always open to suggestions. Throw out some examples and I’ll give them a go!


    P.S. “douchebagprenuer”….LMAO!

  • yopalhal

    Marc, well done. You have captured my attention once again, entertained me, and left me wanting more.

    In fact, I would go as far as to say your writing is epic, ALWAYS has me LMAO, and usually reignites the passion I have for being an entrepreneur.

    So, as a fellow influencer, I will now pay-it-forward by sharing it with my followers on Twitter. :^)

    With love & gratitude,
    – “Yo Pal” Hal

  • Michelle_Mazur

    The way your mind works is astounding. Relating Shakespeare to Twitter. Brilliant. A favorite podcaster of mine says epic all the time, and I forgive him because his content is so damn good.

    I’m not a fan of the term followers either. I have a twitter feed not a cult.

    Great post as always, Marc.

  • demianfarnworth

    Yes, those would indeed be cliches now. That’s why instead of followers I now use groupies. 😉

  • Voice of reason

    This may not be a word, but I would put “110%” into the same context. How in the world could we put in more than is mathematically possible? And on another note, why is it that people seem to think that it is okay to just type “k”? We already short-formed the word to “ok”. Isn’t that enough?

  • Dave Conrey

    Wait, we can’t even use the word Entrepreneur now because of the other idioms?

  • Sharon Reichert

    OK, am I really the only one who can’t figure out what TWSFIJSM means?

    I was waiting for the legend at the bottom of the article.
    Oh, and great article, BTW. Needed to be said. Truly.

    • Marc Ensign

      I’m not telling! You are just going to have to figure it out! Funny, you’re the only one to actually ask!

      • Sharon Reichert

        Well, that’s just mean …

        • Emily Lock

          Well, let’s see… it has to mean something like ‘being extremely happy or amused’…

          So far, I’ve come up with Trilling With Song From Idiotic Julie’s Sound of Music… or perhaps Tangoing With Sixteen Ferrets In Joyous Summer Madness.

          Nah… I think Marc is simply Trolling With Some Futile Imbeciles, Just Smiling Mysteriously!

  • Bryan Howland

    Extreme is another word that has had its life sucked out of it. We have extreme Doritos, extreme makeovers, extreme couponing, extreme shadow puppets, etc.

  • ajfbiz

    “Awesome”, “killer”, “content” that will result in “unlimited” “conversions”…yes, Marc, excellent post here and there are probably many more of these overly used words, acronyms and expressions. We pick up what many clever people establish and then work it into the ground(I’m guilty). A fresh conveyance will only last so long and then we need to go search for more, and so, we should belong to the exciting word crafters society, or whatever it takes to stay effective. As Yogi Berra once said, redundancy is the best way to repeat yourself.

  • Simon

    I was right with you until you declared peanut butter to be ‘awesome’. Really?
    Maybe british peanut butter is different to american. Tasty I’ll grant you, delicious even. In fact it’s one of my preferred spreads, but to this day it has yet to inspire any feelings beyond gustatory pleasure and satiation.
    Awe? – unfortunately not?
    Overwhelming feelings of reverence, admiration or fear? – would be great, but sadly not yet.

  • Tielman Cheaney

    I’m tired of:

    FAIL – The word that accompanies “Epic” the most. A few weeks ago I was walking through a room with a group of friends. A grocery bag slipped out of my hands. A friend said “Epic fail!” Then I picked the bag back up and kept going. I’d say the incident didn’t qualify as either epic or a fail.

    YOLO – Yeah, we know. We all only live once. What if we only lived four times? Would you be shouting “YOLFT” as you start skiing down the black diamond slope? (Thanks Andy Samburg for going the other direction with this)

    SHIZNIT – It’s 2013. Stop it. Just stop it.

    AWESOME in the U.S.
    BRILLIANT in the U.K.

    And, I know it’s a whole phrase, but
    AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT – I hope this one vanishes soon.

  • jim adams

    I’ll throw a few more in there that make me want to be sick in my mouth.

    1) Bespoke
    2) Solutions

    If I see one or the other my ears spin. I f I see them together I quite literally lose my tiny mind and start to cry. Please folks. No more ‘Bespoking’ or ‘Solutioning’. I cant take it any more.

  • Stephan Creifelds

    The creepiest of all is …sexy.

    • Tielman Cheaney

      Seconded. I’ve seen the phrase “Sexy data” a little too often lately.

      Data is not sexy.

  • Valerie Rind

    Please let’s kill “… make sure we’re all on the same page …”

    Heck, some of the time we’re reading completely different books.

  • lisab

    How about “iconic”? It’s right up there with surreal as the #1 overused word in the US.