The Good Stuff.


Some fake words that we should all avoid.

"Really?  You think that sounds cool?.....right."  Lou.  Hasselblad camera.  150mm lens.  Agfa black and white film.

Here are words (and concepts) that drive me nuts when I read them. Language has meaning. These words subvert meaning and are too cute by far.....let's shy away from ever using them unless some Englishman is holding a gun to your head.....

Uni. Meant to be an abbreviation for university. But really just the Latin root for singular or one. After investing several hundred thousand dollars in an education would you really want to say "when I was at Uni..." ????

Brolly. One of those whimsically stupid abbreviations that make my skin crawl like fingernails on the proverbial chalk board. It really means: "umbrella." Brolly Box is the worst iteration. Boycott anyone who refers to their product this way. What next? The "Bumpershooter!" ????

Doco. Just read this bastardization on Phillip Bloom's website. It's meant to be a shortening of the word, "documentary." Given enough time the English will attempt to abbreviate anything they can. That doesn't make it right.  "He shot a doco!"  No.

Tog. Meant to be an abbreviation of the time honored word, "Photographer." The problem is that "tog" has a previous meaning. It refers to apparel or articles of clothing. Both confusing and diminutive. Let's all promise never to use it in reference to picture taking again.  Makes us sound like toys.

Strobist. Nice business name but a poor description of people who have cameras and also have the ability to light things with small lights. One man may call himself a "Strobist" if he invented the term. When others appropriate the word it garners the same slimy veneer that "Members Only" jackets had in the 1970's.......a big flashing, neon sign that screams:

PhotoWalk. It's a walk. You just happen to be bringing your camera along to exercise it. PhotoWalk sounds so......clubby. It's okay to ask a friend, "Do you want to grab our cameras and walk around downtown?" Photowalk sounds so single minded and pretentious.

MeetUp. HookUp. BangUp. It's a meeting. It's sex. It's a wreck. Just use the right word. Meet Up implies that people will get together for a meeting. There's a real word for that: meeting.

Blog. (noun) It's really an article. You've written an article.  Why does it need a new word just because it lives on the internet?

Add words to this list as you desire. But those are the ones that make my jaw ache.  To each their own?  I think not.

Article edited for good taste at 12:37 Texas Time.


  1. Bokeh. Not that it isn't a real word, just one that is over used. Just tired of hearing it.

  2. Can I add a phrase here? This one drives me nuts. Could people just stop saying "It is what it is."? It can't ever be anything else! ARGH!

  3. Candidates for next year's Webster's dictionary. With some of the words getting in, I can't imagine these are too far off.

  4. One more: totes. It's an abbreviation for 'totally', probably with the idea of sounding less like a surfer when using 'totally' as a filler word.

    I'm with you on 'uni', but somehow I think that is its point: to sound quite casual and noncommittal about the experience of spending years and hundreds of thousands on college, just to be able to cite it off the cuff as a casual reminiscence. "When I was at Uni, we totes used to go out every night for ramen and martinis..."

  5. We could go on to phrases as well. My least favorite/most overused: "Horses for courses." "It's not the arrow it's the Indian." "It's not the camera but what's six inches behind." Bokeh has ceased (in the popular mind) to be a word that describes the quality of out of focus areas of an image and now means (to the unread masses) just "out of focus" areas. Sad.

  6. Isn't "uni" kind of a Britishism?

    A couple of these are pure marketing (both good and bad) and a couple seem like the fault of social media's drive towards "efficient" communication. It's only too bad that efficiency in communication is sometimes in direct conflict with clarity.

  7. Uni was at least the standard term for University in the 20+ years I lived in the UK. If people started talking about 'When I was at University' it typically leads to a pretentious ramble. Otherwise, it was almost universally referred to as uni.

    Also, there's a certain irony reading about this on the Visual Science Lab blog

  8. The one that personally grates for me, is when did the word 'addictive' transform to be 'addicting' ?

  9. Kirk,

    Blog is derived from weB LOG, except that I never could understand why what you write on them was a "log" which is usually a boring catalog of data that needs to be recorded at specified intervals, like the core temperature of your home nuclear reactor.

    If they are "articles" maybe the site should be called a Barticle? No, that sounds too much like barnacle. Of course they do tend to collect over time like barnacles.

    The format is actually more like journals. Bjournal? It has a nice Scandinavian sound to it. :-)

    My personal annoyance is "have got" and its iterations, "we've got", "they've got", etc. If you say "we have" the addition of "got" is redundant. What's really annoying is that it has become so common I even catch myself saying it. Now THAT is annoying.

  10. One of my favorites: Nother. As in "I need a whole nother day to get this project done".

  11. My contributions --

    - At the end of the day...
    - Uptick
    - Oh my god
    - "I was like....", and "he/she was like...", "I shot like a 1000 frames today", etc.
    - "I know, right?"

    These are just a few. Don't even get me started on bad grammar which is so pervasive on the doesn't portray a good image of our educational system, I think.

  12. "The bottom line." "Where the rubber meets the road."
    "Nice capture." ( yes, it was an ethical trap....).

    Gordon, "Uni" is perverse no matter how long it's been in use.

    " University" sounds pretension because it's not preceded by the necessary determiner.

    "The" University (If you went to UT Austin).

    There are thousands of Universities. Not all are equivalent. How are we to know which one? Or what kind?

    Can't we just say, "When I was in school?" Isn't that much less pretentious than Uni or University?

  13. True enough, the University that I went to has only been around for 215 years and is considered something of a 'fly-by-night' 'johnny-come-lately' polytechnic school in the local area, compared to the other real Uni founded 560 years ago. I figure after half a millenium of usage that 'uni' is ok, though.

  14. We like them new and fresh here in Texas and even rename the Universities from time to time when they seem stale.


  15. They get uppity if kept around too long.

    I think the use of school is country-centric too - in the US it gets used more broadly than in the UK.

    I always thought the distinction was that you went to school to be taught and you went to university to learn, though the style of teaching in universities seems to have devolved back to teaching again.

  16. I may be too parochial. After all, my whole state is a little over one hundred years old.

  17. I'm probably biased - my elementary school was about 166 years old and had John Logie Baird as an alumni.

  18. "At the end of the day" for "finally".
    "Rezzi" for "Reservation", as at a restaurant.
    "Combo" for "Combination"
    All of the now-standard internet confusions of "your" and "you're", "there" and "they're", "then" and "than", "to and "too". Our schools have failed.
    "Hookup" for whatever that means at that moment.
    "Your picture has great depth of field."

  19. Scott, you pushed me over the edge with "Rezzi." Do you know the genesis of that one? I'd love to blame the right abbreviator......

  20. I've edited out references to drinking, drunken and pub. Hope the nod to "political correctness" doesn't abrade some in the wrong direction....

  21. Re: "Rezzi": No idea, really. It's just a word I've heard around Detroit. Makes me crazy.

    The spelling is mine, and is phonetic, not Italian.

  22. The Urban Dictionary Rezzi:fun and spontaneous, trustworthy, but defensive. good friend.exuberant, may have a swearing problem. In photog giber in could me the op of bokeh. OMG I am one of them!

  23. My wife bought me a Members Only jacket in the eighties. Always hated the name, but it was all I had that looked sort of formal.

    How about Tex-Mex? That one always bugged me.

  24. Kirk, keep taking the pills! lol, (whoops!)

    I'm fairly relaxed with this new speak. One of the only phrases that grinds is when someone claims they can give more than 100%.

    Kirk, I'm a 120% behind this post.

  25. "That being said...."

    This one gets on my last nerve.

  26. As a non-native speaking person, i find the wide-spread misuse of "its" and "it's", and generally speaking the (mis)use of accents and apostrophes by many of you native english-speaking gentlemens to be quite unnerving; it's like listening to your preferred music played on a defective instrument.
    There's a very nice book about all these mis-usage: "The Panda eats, shoots and leaves"- Now, about commas, isn't it? :)


  27. oops..the 4th word in my previous post got deleted, it was (of course) "english".


  28. Oh, almost forgot: "Begs the question" to mean "requires that we ask the question". The phrase has a very specific meaning, and that ain't it.

    This has become really popular with news-caster types in the last few years.

  29. How about "Goes without saying" which is usually followed up with what should have gone without saying.

  30. Well, to be completely honest...
    Essentially, what it comes down to is...
    Uber- (anything)...

  31. And what's so wrong with the old-fashioned way of making money that today we "monetize?"

  32. I'm sorry Kirk, but you cannot take an englishman's brolly away. Its just not cricket. Toodle pip

  33. You can use the n-gram viewer to see trends on word usage in literature over the last couple of hundred years

  34. "Loose" for "lose" drives me bats.

    Kirk - I've been meaning to ask for ages and your post gives me an opportunity. Where your About Me information states that you've taught at "the" University level - is this an American / Texan turn of phrase?

    Keep up the great blog btw - it's better, IMHO (is "IMHO" allowed??) since you thought about giving up - more impassioned.

  35. "I'm not saying, I'm just saying" drives me up a wall.

    And why was the word "gay" stolen.

  36. Patrick, I guess that's an American phrase. What I mean is that I taught, as an adjunct, for the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas at Austin. I am now on the advisory board for the Austin Community Colleges. Our ACC Photography program is the second or third largest associate degree program in the United States. I help to consult on future curriculum.

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  39. Job creators." I hope to win the lottery so that I may become one, though.

    Let me try again:

    "YMMV" Well, it's not a word nor even a phrase any longer, but was originally a car ad disclaimer which meant the information you just heard is probably only possible in a dream world under perfect conditions and you will likely never achieve those results.

    Apparently now used on forums and such after posting in order to distance oneself from responsibility for the contents of the post.

  40. Kirk,
    You would absolutely hate Australia, known locally as Oz (the aural equivalent of Aus, the abbreviation). Here, you can stop by Macca's for brekkie (McDonald's for breakfast) which is betta (better) than than waiting till the arvo (afternoon) to eat. Be sure to pay the rego (car registration) on time, so you don't get a fine and Bob's your uncle (all will be fine).

    These are only a few of the slang words and distortions in use here. Australia is known as the land of the diminutive. Austrialia also imported rhyming slang from the mother country and made it it's own private code.

    Dropping the "er" for an "a" is so common that you find it in business names and advertising. After investing millions and millions in branding, McDonald's often advertises using Macca's, not McDonald's.

    Although I am not a speaker or writer of perfect English (if, indeed, that is even possible), it is often discouraging to see and hear what Australians do to the language. They seem to think it is cute, fun and very Aussie (Australian) to slaughter the language--sometimes to the point of becoming unintelligible to other native English speakers.

    What seems to be lost on them is that the purpose of language is to allow us to communicate with each other. When, you subvert that, then language becomes a tool to exclude others. And "exclusion" in the land down under is a topic not suited to this forum. After all, no dramas means no worries, right mate? Wouldn't want to be whinger or a wanker.

    Cheers. JD-former Yank

  41. What makes my teeth itch is this one: using "quote" as a noun. As in, "I heard a great quote the other day..."

    No, no you didn't.

    What you heard is a quotation.

    If you repeat it to me, you are quoting a quotation to me.

    Quote is a verb, not a noun.

    Quotation is a noun, not a verb.

    They are not inter-changeable.

    Great post Kirk :)

  42. English is not my mother language. Reading this article has been amusing and instructive as well: now I can understand a little more form what I read in the web.
    Thanks , grazie

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  44. "My bad." Hate it, Hate, it, hate it!

  45. "Blog" refers to the collective thing. You post articles to your blog, just like one might make entries in a journal — if one hears "I wrote a journal on this", one expects a whole book. Likewise, "my blog on this" means you have a whole blog on a topic — it doesn't refer to a single specific entry.

  46. Here are a few examples of my most hated contortions of the English language:

    "I could care less" - NO, you meant to say, "I COULDN'T care less." If one says he 'could care less,' that would indicate he actually cares.

    "What it is, is ..." no explanation can make sense of this.

    Irregardless - The "ir" prefix is redundant - Regardless will always suffice.

  47. I'm going to go ahead and add mine, even though I'm late to the party.

    "Unsweetened Tea"

    No such thing. Unless you sweetened it, prior to UN-sweetening it.

    Tea, or plain tea.

    P.S. Not mine, check out comedian Hal Sparks: Charmageddon for more made-up words.


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