Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chafing Words

We started rehearsals yesterday for Clybourne Park at Arden.  It's a new play by Bruce Norris, that won the 2011 Pulitzer.  It's about race, our attitudes toward race, territory, and so much more.  Clybourne Park is the fictional neighborhood that the Younger family wants to move into in A Raisin in the Sun.  Act One takes place in 1959, from the point of view of the white family selling the house.  Act Two takes place 50 years later (2009), and it's a white family that wants to move into the neighborhood which is now predominantly black.  I always make my descriptions sound boring but believe me, it's a great play.  And, it was a treat to have the Pulitzer Prize winning author in the room with us on the first day.

Anyway, in the play, one of the characters refers to her chafing dish (she's trying to give it to her black help).  One of the actors blurted out, "Can we not call it a chafing dish?  It just sounds so wrong!  Chafing, it's like jock itch."

Okay, so now you won't be able to use that word either.  Sorry.

It got me thinking about words that I just don't like.  There are some words that I hate to use and hate it when people use.  Here's my list:

Nestled:  It's supposed to sound cozy but it sounds prickly and pretentious.

Nibbled:  makes me think of a mouse, a gross mouse.  Not a delicate word

Nubby:  Honestly, I have no idea what this word means but people use it to describe fabric.  Not just any fabric, all sorts of fabric so I never know what they are talking about.

Apparently, all my words begin with "N."  Oh, I forgot  Utilize because I think people over-utilize the word.  Use words, just say use.

My daughter hates the word, Queer.  Not for it's meaning, just because she hates the sound of the word.

I use it all the time, now, of course.

Do you have any words that chafe?


  1. ha i hear you on nestled...nubby...hmmm....i know nubbly...or numbly peg...hmm...i know moist is one that gets many people...i am not sure if there is a word that grates me...

  2. Great post Kate. I must admit to having a particular aversion to the word mission, especially when used by companies and other organisations when they issue mission statements. But my mission is to wish you a most happy and successful 2012.

  3. Words that bother me are those that have been co-opted or used wrongly (not sure if that sentence has been properly constructed). Such words as:
    Scanned when people mean skimmed.
    Friend (as a verb)
    Disrespect (as a verb)
    Orientate: means to orient. People just made this one up. Because it made them sound more intelligent (???)
    I could go on and on.
    Happy New Year folks.

  4. nibble!! as someone fond of all things rodent, i am quite fond of the word! but, oh my, my blogroll on the mouse is titled "blogs i like to nibble on" perhaps i need to rename it - i don't mean to offend or make my friends think of a gross fat mouse!

  5. Tucked, when used to describe eating as in, "He tucked into his meal."

  6. "Commentate."

    "Grow," when it's used awkwardly. I'm okay when someone grows tomatoes, but when someone grows their business, it just sounds incorrect.

  7. Mouse! Don't change Nibble on your blog roll. I just hate when authors say "she nibbled on a cracker" She ate the friggin cracker people! and Fox: Yes, growing a business, what the...? Alan: Mission Accomplished!

  8. I always smile when people use 'however' instead of 'but'.
    Takes me right back to the eighth grade and trying to sound pretentious in an essay.
    PLease avoid however...

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