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NYT Standards Editor Bans Use Of The Word “Famously”

keyboard.jpgWe undoubtedly fall into the same traps as every writer forced to churn out story after story every day: a favorite word repeated, a useless adjective thrown in here or there for extra color or perhaps even a misused word from time to time.

Unfortunately, unlike the writers at The New York Times, we don’t have a standards editor to gently tell us what we’re doing wrong and which words are strictly verboten. (We also don’t get the benefit of using those handy Times copy editors, but that’s a story for another day.)

Today, Philip B. Corbett, the Times‘ associate managing editor for standards, instructs the paper’s writers to dump the word “famously” from their vocabularies:

“I’ve steered away from my give-this-word-a-rest refrain recently. For one thing, these are among the most subjective judgments — one person’s handy shorthand is another’s grating cliché. And I was afraid that if I denounced too many words as overused or worn out, our writers wouldn’t have much left to work with.

I needn’t have worried, of course; these screeds have little discernible effect. Still, I ran into one too many ‘famouslys’ recently, and I couldn’t help myself. In many cases, ‘famously’ is completely superfluous; in other instances, there’s a more precise way to say what we mean.”

Philip B. Corbett, who famously fights for correct grammar and usage, strikes again.

Words We Love Too MuchNew York Times

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