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10 Most Overused Words on Craft Blogs

mad writing skillsOne of my tweeps recently tweeted a link to this article identifying the 10 Most Overused Words on Wedding Blogs.  The post got me thinking about the craft community and our buzz words that seem to crop up unnecessarily often.  So I made up a little list of my own.

Each of the words on this list can AND should be appropriately used.  However, any word that is used too often begins  to lose its power.  Like a beloved stuffed animal, these words may be safe and snuggly, but they are becoming worn and frayed and are starting to develop a peculiar funk.

So, put up your feet, dust off your thesauruses, and join me in expanding our vocabularies.

Disclaimer: This list comes from a desire for mutual growth, not a place of judgment.  I count myself as a member of the craft blogging community, so I am equally responsible for the proliferation of these words.  I am guilty of using just about all of the terms on this list, and I hereby solemnly vow to take my own medicine and to try to minimize my use of them in future posts.

“We all judge.  It’s our hobby.  Some people do Arts & Crafts.  We judge.”

Stanford Blatch (Sex and the City, Season 5)

10. Vintage

Unless you are actually using vintage materials, refrain from describing a craft as vintage.  Just because it has a picture of a rotary phone on it, doesn’t mean it’s vintage.

Try these instead:  classic, bygone, nostalgic

9.  Shabby

This is a good example of a word that became trendy and consequently took on a new connotation.  If you check out the actual definition of the word… well, it’s not so positive.  But, if you are determined to describe your project as run-down, seedy or dilapidated, at least mix up your adjectives now and then.

How about:  worn, tattered, frayed

8.  Chic

Chic is a French word that is an adaptation of the German word “schick” meaning skill.  That origin makes it an appropriate word to use when describing attractive handmade goods.  But not everything needs to be chic.

Replace it with:  fashionable, current, swank

7.  Fab

Sex and the City made its mark on popular culture in a myriad of ways, including instigating the wide-reaching overuse of the word “fabulous.”

As a writer, take the time to choose your words carefully.  Is that potholder really fabulous?  Really?  Really.

I thought not.

6.  Treatment

Let’s lay our proverbial cards on the table.  There is the tiniest bit of pretentiousness in the craft blogging world.  It’s that inner voice that tells myself, “I’m not just randomly hacking at this table with a piece of rebar.  I‘m distressing it.”

I think our community could benefit by eliminating the need to say you gave your project a treatment.  You wiped on a glaze.  Cool!  Be okay with that!

Less highfaluting options: method, procedure, application

5.  Absolutely/totally/incredibly, etc.

Stephen King wrote, “I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs.”

One of the loveliest characteristics of the craft blog community is our ever-present desire to compliment each other’s creations.  I know I have felt that to really emphasize my admiration of an idea I need to throw a few superlative adverbs into my description of it.

The truth is that adverbs make little difference on the overall impact of your message.  Nine times out of ten, you can eliminate them from your post and not miss them at all.

If the embroidered onesie is adorable, call it adorable and leave it at that.

4.  Crafty

Did you know that the primary definition of the word crafty is “skillful in underhand or evil schemes; cunning; deceitful; sly?”  While that might be an accurate description of all my Pottery Barn knock-off posts, I don’t think that is how most craft bloggers usually use the word.

More accurate substitutions: arty, imaginative, inventive

3.  Inspired

As with “chic,” describing a craft project as “inspired” may well be dead on.  This is certainly the case if your project was inspired by another piece found elsewhere.  But, just for diversity’s sake, give one of the word’s many synonyms a day in the sun.

Give these a shot: influenced, motivated, sparked, prompted

2.  Frugal

I like saving money.  I do.  I appreciate bloggers who make an effort to create beautiful or practical items on a budget.  But, I am ever so slightly sick of reading the word “frugal,” especially when it’s so much more honest to say what we really mean: cheap!

Also acceptable: thrifty, economical

1.  Vignette

A vignette is a story, an illustration. A well-styled décor display might tell a story if the pieces are meaningful and complementary.  However, a bunch of tchotchkes sitting on mantel does not a vignette make.

What other words you do feel are overused in the craft blog universe?

About the Author:

Good morning/afternoon/evening/night, I’m Jessica Hill, the slightly-unbalanced blogger from Mad in Crafts.  I used to spend my days teaching Shakespeare and Longfellow to high school students; now I spend my days saying things like, “Try to make some potty come out.”  I am a stay-at-home wife, mommy of two little munchkins, and caretaker of one stinky basset hound.  I am also addicted to television, ichthyophobic (look it up, kids), and almost 30.  On Mad in Crafts, I exercise my creativity by writing craft tutorials and exorcise my inner schoolmarm through my Mad Writing Skills series.  This series tackles writing issues faced by bloggers, especially craft bloggers, and suggests specific, practical strategies for dealing with those challenges.

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49 Responses to “10 Most Overused Words on Craft Blogs”

  1. Oh, what a great list, Jessica! I love that Stephen King quote.
    And, ouch, I’m guilty of #1! Need to watch that one.
    What word am I tired of? Swoon.
    Until I started reading blogs, I never heard anyone use that word in real life. (But I live in PA, so we may be a bit behind.) “Swoon” could be a great way to portray your affection for something. But in reality it means: “to faint” or “to be overwhelmed by ecstatic joy”. That is a pretty strong emotion!

  2. I think if I followed all the advice above I’d never blog again! I don’t like rules, or feeling like I did somethng the “wrong” way – I just like having fun and being who I am. I suppose though if your goal was to become an amazing blogger that always did things right I’d say be sure and follow the rules above! :-)

  3. Ann says:

    A great list – all so true. Am I guilty? Affirmative. The word that irks me most of all, and is used quite widely when describing crafts that please, is drool, as in drooling over or drool-worthy. yuck.

  4. Yes! What an absolutely fabulous list! ;-)

    I have another one: obsessed. It seems that everyone is obsessed with something in the blogosphere. Sometimes it’s enough just to like something, folks!

  5. alicia says:

    Great list! I’m sure I’m guilty of some of them (particularly ‘inspired’), but I totally agree.

  6. I like your list. I am not sure I’ve used the word “crafty” (mostly because I don’t focus on crafts), but I think we have Buffy the Vampire Slayer to thank for words like these. I confess I am a fan of the show, and I find that even though it hasn’t been on for awhile I find myself adding y’s to words where they don’t belong, like crafty, just because it made laugh on that show. I can’t think of a good example I have used, but I know I do it. :) I bet people do it who never even watched the show just because altering words like that has become part of our speech. Just a thought.

  7. Mike says:

    Alternatively, you could argue that because people are more likely to include the most popular buzz words in their searches you should use those words (where applicable) to target search traffic.

    I absolutely-totally-incredibly agree with #5 though. They’re all overused… and most of the time the self-described totally-incredibly-awesome thing is none of the above.

  8. Shauna says:

    I so incredibly totally really agree about the word vintage! ;) Seriously, something from the 1980′s is NOT vintage, people! However, overall I tend to agree with Selina. Blogs should be about being yourself. Your audience will find you if it’s meant to be. Blogs are supposed to be personal so sharing personal info makes sense. Blogs shouldn’t have a bunch of rules. They aren’t homework. Having said all that I did enjoy reading your list and have noticed how often the words you mentioned are used. One more thing, sometimes I use those superlative adverbs because if you are commenting on the work of several people at the same site/time I want to personalize my comment and not just say it’s really pretty 14 times to 14 people. But, I do try to use words that I truly mean and apply to that particular work.

  9. Nicole says:

    All of these are spot on. I’m guilty of using adverbs to the point of disgust. I think it’s time to work on ridding myself of the habit.

  10. amy says:

    Mine is wha-lah! It’s actually a misspelling of the French word “voila” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/voila

    Unfortunately it’s hard to think of a way to end an entry, which is a problem that I have too.

    I also personally overuse “awesome.” Hahaha!

    • Carolina says:

      Oh YES!! When I see Wah-la, it makes me want to do something slightly violent. When I’ve seen it spelled correctly, I almost want to comment on the post saying “Thank you for not attempting to Americanize a beautiful word, and butcher it in the process!”

  11. Great list! Like Madigan and Ann said, I can’t stand drool or swoon.
    The word I overuse the most is definitely. I don’t know if I speak it too much, but I definitely write it too much. Ha!

  12. Gillian says:

    Oh, I have a LIST. I keep it on my desktop. I guess not all are overused, but they are still funny:

    artfully delicious
    juicy goodness
    creative juju
    good juju
    a very juicy look
    pursuit of creative nectar
    creative juices

    Lots of goodness to see!
    drinking in these colors
    peel apart love (polaroids)

    I will drink it up.

    a sweet reminder
    a sweet shout
    tucked away like treasure
    sprinkle a bit of love
    I am loving

    • Barb says:

      I can’t agree more with the whole ‘juicy’ obsession that I see on so many blogs. One in particular uses the word in every single post and it drives me nuts!
      Peace & Love,
      Barb

  13. Lorie says:

    I have to politely disagree with a lot of the list. The evolution of language is part of society. Even the Websters dictionary recognizes that language can be created by the people that use it. The fact that we have these words that are commonly used is part of what makes us a community.

  14. Lorie says:

    Amy, I totally have a post where I realizes that walls was voila. Totally embarrassing! ;)

    • amy says:

      Oh, trust me, I’m not one to criticize. I make mistakes all the time when speaking, writing or doing things like wearing my sweater inside out (I did it the other day!) Hahaha! That is why I love the name of your blog. It’s so true!

  15. heather says:

    Hey Everyone, as with everything, use your own judgment as the final say on the things you do. I believe this list was offered as encouragement to think about the words you use in your post, not to condemn anyone who uses these words!

    Also, the post is supposed to be light-hearted & humorous! :)

    Glad we can all dialogue in a friendly way.

  16. Peaches says:

    Agreed on all counts.
    I can understand why some folks would not find the humor..perhaps even get offended, but so what? Second guessing our chosen words is a GOOD THING. We can all benefit from challenging ourselves to expand our vocab :)

  17. Carolina says:

    I have to add “upcycle.” IMHO, not every piece of trash that gets attacked with paint and a glue gun is upcycled.

  18. Angela says:

    I’m kind of bored of seeing.
    “Love.it.”
    or
    “love.”
    Those are not sentences.

  19. Heather says:

    Well, you did it! You have made me rethink many of my etsy descriptions! Although I’m leaving “Awesome” in the things that I think are awwweee-some!

  20. Kristina says:

    “I just whipped this up…”

    Makes me cringe!!! I see it everywhere.

  21. Janet says:

    Great list. I agree with Madigan, “swoon” drives me crazy as well as, “lurve” for love and “le sigh” I am guilty of word mis-use as well, just not these in particular. ;)

  22. Sonya missbossypants says:

    Any (wrong) variation of the word VOILA drives me crazy! Viola (super spelling mistake) or waalaa or whala or vwala… INSANE, I tell you!!! And don’t get me started with “swoon”… Thanks for the fun list! I’m guilty of using too many exclamation marks. I’m just so excited!!! ;)

  23. Barb says:

    There are a couple of other things that drive me nuts (and I am very guilty of doing both of these) is the overuse of “…” and I am the worst violator of over using it, too. The other is too many or overuse of exclamation points and/or question marks. Yep, I do that one, too.
    *Hangs head in Shame* lol
    Peace & Love,
    ~Barb~

  24. *hand raised in the air* Guilty!

    BUT I must admit that I use these words in the same way I use the phrase, “I know, right??” Whoever came up with that phrase got hit in the head with their surfboard one too many times, so I use it as a joke. It takes it from, “Look how crafty I am!” to “Like, I am sooooo awesomely crafty. Be jealous.” Do you sense a difference? I do. Either way, I love the list and the suggestions of replacement words. Thank you!

  25. This was amazing. My writing mentor once said of adverbs: “They are gravy hiding bad meat.”

  26. Joan says:

    Hi, I do not have a blog and I do not write much. I do however do a lot of reading of the blogs. One thing I’m sick of reading is “I heart” this or that. I’ve even seen I ♥ it.

  27. Anne says:

    Great article! I especially appreciate that you listed some alternative words that could be used in place of the overused version. Thanks.

  28. linda says:

    I have enjoyed reading the posts on this subject. One word I would like to add to the list is “whimsical”. I hate this word! To me, this word invokes images of silly, inane, rediculous.

  29. Yaz says:

    Haha so true onthe overused words……love the alternatives :)

  30. Amanda says:

    This is a great list! The word vintage drives me mad, one blogger wrote about something from the 80′s being vintage, I was born in the 80′s and do not consider myself vintage!

    I always try to write in the same style as I talk to family / friends, that way it’s reflect who I am, not the most popular words of the day!

  31. Oh crap… my blog name has “Inspired” in it! :)

    • Arcie says:

      Kelly, I went to thesaurus.com to try to help you rename your blog, here were some suggestions:
      Kelly is Propelled
      Kelly is Instigated
      Kelly is Stimulated
      Kelly is Mobilized
      Kelly is Aroused

      I think I would stick with Inspired if I were you!

      On a serious note, this article was fun to read with great suggestions. I also get annoyed when someone says how much they love or ‘adore’ every single thing they do. You posted about it, you even took the time to take pictures and write a tutorial. Your readers are smart enough to gather that you are fond of it without a million hearts and ‘swoon’s.

  32. Imy says:

    OMG I am guilty of using more than one of those words!! Thanks for the article, I feel shamed….

  33. June Scott says:

    I love words. And although the English language can be absolutely maddening at times, I love how meanings evolve over time and how different people use different words to say the same thing. How we express ourselves is often part of our personalities. Our voice in written form. There are some bloggers I would know, just by reading their post. Personally, it’s one of the things I enjoy about our community. Having said all that…I am most guilty of #3. My blog is entitled Inspired by… and I say “inspired” a lot. On purpose [smile] I enjoyed your post, Jessica! And am not at all surprised to learn you’re a teacher [wink]

  34. I REALLY enjoyed your post here about CRAFTY blogs and the INSPIRED language they use. Bloggers should ABSOLUTELY take heed.

    :)

  35. Jules says:

    Words I see all the time that I would rather not (in a light hearted way): dontcha, whatcha, and yum or yummy.

  36. Melissa says:

    I have two blogs. One is a mom blog where I get crafty, that is where I over use words like fabulous and end every tutorial with “Voila!”. My Storage Geek tumblr is a collection of other people’s work and there I probably use the word love or adore almost once a day. But I tell myself I do indeed all in love with people’s amazing ideas and handiwork daily.
    I agree with the use o vintage. I even don’t mind objects from the 80′s being called bintage, but please make sure it is actually from the 80′s and not just used. (Not that there is anything wrong with used, I love thrifted items.)

  37. Henry says:

    “Shabby Chic” was a term used by John Veer Brown (spelling) in an article he wrote about his London flat in The World Of Interiors magazine in the 1980s. He said that everything he owned was either chipped, scratched, torn or worn. It had a beautiful packed little apartment, 90% of the items, he said, were pulled from the trash and he began collecting stuff from posh neighbourhoods in the 1970s. Two things I took away from his article: painting the inside of a bookcase black and hanging a painting on the front of a bookcase. His admission of having other folks trash and broken decor was a novel idea at the time -but his home has very little relevance to the white-washed and tea-stained pastels we think of as Shabby Chic today. Shabby Chic has come to refer to a style, just as the term ‘Art Deco’, and like Art Deco it includes many elements and divergent trends. Yes, people misuse the term ‘Shabby Chic’ but they misuse ‘Art Deco’. It isn’t so much over-used as misused.

    The use of the term ‘chic’ actually came into vogue in the 1920′s because of the Rudolph Valentino movies, the word meant anything fashionable or elegant (as in a silk robed sheik, which the word sounded like and a famous character played by Valentino.) The term has continued to mean elegant, stylish, smart. It’s often associated with a casual elegance now, as opposed to a formal elegance. The actual French origin of the word is immaterial to it’s current usage and it’s pedantic to even note that. The original meaning of the word ‘elegant’ was ‘pretentious’. Are we suppose to go back to that meaning when we use ‘elegant’ today to describe a wedding dress? Why would we?

    I have to agree with ‘treatment’ and words like it. One of the things I used to appreciate about Crafts as opposed to Fine Art was the language. Often the same “treatments” were being performed by both groups (artists and crafters), but one group was always more earnest about it. Then, with many Art School drop-outs/grads doing and writing about Crafts, it too has become inundated with nauseating art-speak. I don’t care how you describe your “process”, that diaper bag is never going to sit in a museum next to a Van Gogh unless you forget it on a bench during your visit.

    You wrote “adverbs” and you obviously meant “adjectives” by your example (onesie is adorable). Also, an adjective describes a THING, an adverb, as the name implies, describes a VERB. King’s point relates to the fact that most professional writers agonise over the perfect verb. It often is what gives a sentence pizazz. Compare “I stepped on the pedal and the car raced” to the redundant “I stepped on the pedal and the car quickly raced” The adverb drains the sentence of energy rather then adding the emphasis some think it should.

    Much has been written about the overuse of adjectives, and equally how they can drain a sentence rather than add to it. but what irks me is the childish or girlish gushing that seems to be effused with adjective strings like “really, super, cool.” “fabo neato”. It is almost like the writer is trying to relive the childhood experience of coloring a Thanksgiving Turkey from the outline of her wee widdle hand and holding it up and exclaiming “Wook wat I did!” I have seen the same type of thing with my 83 year old mother when she gets together with her sister to go shopping. They suddenly start acting like 5 year olds. Let’s face it, making crafts does that to some women.

    Yes, a blog should be about yourself. Absolutely. But it has been said, folks will read a recipe card if it’s written well.

    I also hate upcycle, in the 70′s when we took a tin can and made it into a ornament we were recycling the tin can. “upcyle” seems like a pretentious fad word.

  38. Amity says:

    This is so funny. I think I use the word vintage about 500 times in my blog and to describe my art! Thank you for the smile.

  39. INSANE, I tell you!!! And don’t get me started with “swoon”… it from, “Look how crafty I am!” Thanks for the fun list! I’m guilty of using, we have these words that are commonly used is part of what makes us a community.

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