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Word for the Wise

Noah Blumenthal Posted by Noah Blumenthal.

Noah is the Founder and President of Leading Principles, Inc., an executive coaching & consulting company that helps people see the best in themselves and become more confident, energized, and effective in their work.

I would like to speak in favor of precision in our language.

I would like to speak in favor of precision in our language. Let’s put in the effort to say what we actually mean, to be intelligent in our use of language. Two examples:

  • It was literally raining cats and dogs. No it wasn’t. It was figuratively raining cats and dogs. In fact, your statement is the exact opposite of what you actually meant. I see this too much. Literally is used to mean absolutely not literally.
  • I don’t mean to interrupt. Yes you do. Unless you say that and then stop talking, you completely meant to interrupt. “I’m sorry for interrupting.” Fine. You are admitting to your action and intent. Wonderful. But don’t say the opposite of what you mean.

I don’t generally care for conversations about pet peeves. They always sound a bit whiny to me. So I hope you’ll forgive me this.

I just find myself disappointed lately with our language being used not just poorly, but in ways that mean the exact opposite of what is being said. We can do better.