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Wilf Popoff

WASTED WORDS: Squandering Words on Money

The love of money is not only the root of all evil; it is also the root of ghastly copy.

The love of money is not only the root of all evil; it is also the root of ghastly copy.The love of money is not only the root of all evil; it is also the root of ghastly copy.

I find it particularly ironic that word economy has only a fleeting acquaintance with commerce.

Consider the grating and ubiquitous tautology, expensive price, as in, “The house with a river view comes at a more expensive price.” It’s simply more expensive.  Or it comes at a higher price.

Then there are the flyers and coupons promising “Savings of up to 70% or more!” and “$100 dollars off!” They are blotted with free gift, cash money, affordable luxury, and added bonus.

This stuff is written by morons and pitched to readers who are being dragged to their level of intelligence.

If you actually want to buy this advertised rubbish you may have to go to a bank where you’ll encounter another fusillade of verbosity.

You can apply for a temporary loan. Reflect on this for a moment. Is there such a thing as a permanent loan?  Wouldn’t that be like a free gift?

Bankers or their lawyers love redundancy and have given our language such phrases as lend out, repay back, and collateral security.  What you borrow is added to your accumulated debt. The principal is the debt owed and if you’re late with a payment there will be an additional surcharge on the interest. Default failure will result in the sum total immediately becoming due and owing.

Editors shouldn’t even go near a bank.

Financial reports can be as exasperating. There you find a different array of pleonasms: financial costs, incurred costs, debt load, unpaid debt, target markets, positive growth, foreign imports, huge conglomerates, joint partnerships, dividend payout, complete monopoly, economic wealth, available credit, incrementally more, sales volume, equity interest, and on and on.

This must be why they call economics the dismal science.

Wasted Words is a series of musings on language and usage by editor emeritus Wilf Popoff.

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3 Comments on “WASTED WORDS: Squandering Words on Money”

  • Virginia Durksen


    Great examples, Wilf. The financial world is one of those dark corners where a keen editorial eye helps us see more than what’s wrong with the writing. No wonder our financial systems are so messed up. Can we add “value added services” to the list? As if services that don’t offer, provide, add, include or have value might still be services.

    • Wilf Popoff


      Thanks for your comments Virginia and your example. It certainly belongs on the list.

  • Jonah Popoff


    We’ve become used to all of those wasted words. We use “incurred cost” to represent liabilities owing compared to “actual cost” for dollars paid out.

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