18 Most Useless Words in the English Language

Some words are redundant and overused in America. “Irregardless,” “literally,” and “honestly” are mocked by many writers for their overuse and simplicity. Here are 18 of the most useless words in the English language that should be avoided.


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The adverb “very” is massively overused and often diminishes the impact of the adjectives it modifies. Merriam-Webster notes, “Innumerable writing guides exhort their readers to avoid this word, suggesting choosing furious rather than very angry.” It encourages lazy writing and speaking instead of a more precise vocabulary.


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“Basically” is similarly excessively overused in explanations and can come across as vague and simplistic. Overuse of the adverb can undermine the complexity or importance of a topic and make the user come across as unserious.


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Using the word “honestly” in a conversation implies that earlier statements might be untrue, and overusing it will diminish its sincerity and impact. The word can create distance between the speaker or writer and the person on the other side, so it should be avoided.


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According to The Guardian, “saying the word ‘like’ has long been seen as a sign of laziness and stupidity.” Often used as a filler or verbal tic, “like” contributes to a sense of incoherence and can diminish the speaker’s perceived confidence and clarity.


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Using “just” as an adverb can make statements appear less important or urgent, undermining the user’s authority and confidence, especially in professional communication. Its use is often unnecessary and can be removed without altering the original meaning of a statement.


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This adverb is often redundant when stating facts or correcting misconceptions, and it adds little value to a sentence. Business Insider warns that the word comes across “as condescending, smug, and cloying all at once.”

“Sort of”

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The Collins Dictionary explains that “you use sort of when you want to say that your description of something is not very accurate.” The phrase introduces ambiguity, undermines confidence in a description, and discourages clear language and communication.


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Merriam-Webster notes that “irregardless” is redundant and means the same thing as “regardless.” Merriam-Webster considers the word non-standard and incorrect, as the ir-prefix “usually functions to indicate negation.”


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Using the word “thing” to describe an object, fact, or circumstance is vague and nondescript and fails to convey specific information. The word can be useful when trying to avoid naming an object, but in most cases, it makes communication unclear and ineffective.


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Using “whatever” in conversation can appear dismissive and disrespectful, indicating indifference and potentially undermining dialogue. While it can be used as a pronoun to emphasize a lack of restriction, it should be avoided in formal communication.

“You know”

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This informal phrase “you know” is commonly used as a filler, as in “Oh well, you know.” However, this can contribute to a lack of fluency in a conversation, distracting from the speaker’s main point and reducing clarity.


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Slate writes that “literally” is often misused to emphasize figurative expressions, diluting their original meaning and encouraging exaggeration in everyday language. “The one sensible criticism that can be made about the intensive use of literally is that it can often lead to confusing or silly-sounding results.”

“I mean”

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“I mean” is often used unnecessarily at the beginning of sentences when the speaker attempts to correct or explain a statement. The phrase can make the speaker seem unsure, coming across as a verbal tic that detracts from clear communication.


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This generic term fails to specify or clarify the “stuff” it refers to, encouraging vague language that can lead to misunderstandings and weakening the impact of statements by lacking precision. It’s best to refer to materials and objects by their names.


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“Therefore” is sometimes misused, leading to logical fallacies. When used correctly, this conjunctive adverb can be a helpful tool in formal communication, but when speaking in a casual conversation, it can sound overly formal or pretentious.


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This verb is often used instead of “use” to sound more sophisticated, adding unnecessary complexity to the language. To ensure clear written or spoken language, “use” is the preferable option.


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“Hence” can come across as archaic or overly formal in everyday language. Misuse or overuse of the word can lead to confusing, unclear statements. Washington State University notes that “that’s why” is a simpler alternative that often serves the same function.


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This adverb is sometimes used excessively in academic or formal writing, disrupting text flow with unnecessary emphasis. Simpler transitions usually suffice and improve readability, for example, “additionally” or “as well as.”

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