A List of Words and Expressions Aspiring Adults Should Strive to Avoid


Between the Judd Apatow movies telling us chicks dig fat men-children and the fact that some of us ride Vespas to work, many 20-somethings (and beyond!) have fallen prey to an enveloping infantilization that threatens to keep our generation DOWN. Need proof? Listen no further than the nearest coffeeshop conversation, where the “yays!” and “bros” will likely be flowing like “vino.” The language we use every day conveys an awful lot of information: what part of the the country we’re from. How educated we are (or think we are). How prepared we are for the Chinese takeover. What we don’t want is for the other person to think we’re in 4th grade.

In an effort to help you, our peers, from losing out on that job promotion or May-December romance because of perceived immaturity, Lifting Fog has compiled a quick “what not to say” guide that should help take the guesswork out of everyday communication. Not all of the below are strictly childish expressions, per se, but our crack team of linguistic experts has nevertheless flagged them as dangerous. It is always better to err on the side of safety!

1. “Play” (verb); “Playdate” (noun)
This one seems to be a ladies-only concern (guys will joke about “man-dates” but never dare throw the “p” word in there), but it’s among the more prevalent, affecting upwards of 40% of the female population. Let’s be clear: “play” on its own is a perfectly acceptable verb that can be used in conjunction with lots of words, from “…a game” to “…those musical instruments over there.” But the notion of “playing” as its own end, wherein no object is intended but to…play, is strictly the domain of the under-6-set. You are not a kindergartner, are you? Just use the appropriate verb!

(NOTE: A “bro” might make the case that hearing two ladies yell “let’s plaaaaaaaaayy” is indication they’re about to make out, but it so rarely happens as to be a total pipe dream.)

2. “Bro” (noun); “Bro out” (verb)
Complications arise from the fact that “Bros” do exist in the wild and, like anyone, deserve some kind of proper identifier, but as a conversational element “bro” should be avoided at all costs. There is no need to address your talking partner as a fellow “bro.” You know you’re “bros”; we know you’re “bros.” Let’s just leave some things left unsaid! To “bro out” is essentially the male equivalent of “playing” in that it could mean literally anything (so long as it involves talk of fitness). Again, substituting the specific action will make your speech that much clearer.

3. “Sir” or “Good Sir” (nouns)
There is nothing inherently wrong with trying to guss up an otherwise dry sentence, or to feign gentility in the checkout line at Big Lots, but overuse of either variation can make the person you’re communicating with feel patronized or worse, old.

3. “Cheers” (salutation)
You are not British. Unless you are, in which case knock yourself out. But identify yourself as such in your preceding statements! For emails: “Hey you should know, mate, that I’m sodding British.” In conversation: “You may have noticed my accent…”

4. “Yay!” (exclamation)
In the heat of an exciting moment everyone should be allowed to yell whatever word or expression feels right. “Oh yeah!” “Yeah, baby!” “Boomshakalaka!” But no one in the history of the world has ever been compelled by their guttural instinct to say “yay!” It’s just unnatural! Speakers, know that there is no organic way for you to use this exclamation.

5. “Brilliant” (adjective)
Here are some things that are brilliant: Albert Einstein. Keynesian economics. Facebook. Plastics. The Godfather. Here are some things that aren’t brilliant: emails (not written by Albert Einstein or John Maynard Keynes), dogs, restaurant suggestions. Like “cheers,” “brilliant” has an acceptable place in the British vocabulary but should be used sparingly anywhere else.

6. “Come at me, Bro!” (expression)
We needed a long break before our second “Bro” entry. This one was first uttered by popular American TV star Ron “Ronnie” Ortiz-Magro on Episode 1.6 of the show Jersey Shore. Since then it has STEROID BLOWN UP in popularity, first as a legitimate taunt (you’re in a bar, some guy “steps to you” impolitely — “come at me bro!”) and more recently as a hipster-claimed ironic expression (you’re at a used record store, some guy grabs the Pixies album you were eyeing). In either case the time has come to retire the expression — now nearly two years old! — to whatever dumpster Charlie Sheen’s “Winning!”, and probably Charlie Sheen, is in.

7. “So 2000-and-late” (expression)
I just wanted one we could all agree on. It’s so dumb!

The above represent really just the tip of the iceberg. At the rate we are all talking more and more like members of the Burger King Kids Club, there will probably be enough new material for a follow-up post in about six weeks. Stay tuned!

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4 Responses to “A List of Words and Expressions Aspiring Adults Should Strive to Avoid”

  1. Thoughts on the 2024 Presidential Campaign « Lifting Fog Says:

    […] now-25-year-olds (…born in the United States) will finally be eligible to run for President. Brilliant! Finally we can make good on those “when I grow up” speeches we gave to our fifth grade […]

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  3. Emailing Your Friends in Finance/Consulting: A Quick Etiquette Guide « Lifting Fog Says:

    […] But again, this is the way things are. You can’t change it! All you can do is learn to play along. So let’s plaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayy! […]

  4. More Words and Expressions Aspiring Adults Should Strive to Avoid « Lifting Fog Says:

    […] of 2011, we spent some time discussing the state of modern conversation in a post we called “A List of Words and Expressions Aspiring Adults Should Strive to Avoid.” Our mission? Help those of us — Henning and Steve included — oppressed by our […]

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