Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Monitor the Hackneyed Things You Repeat Repeatedly Over and Over Again, Excessively

Old King Tut song

From www.remember.com– an interesting website.

Hackneyed: A phrase or action that is used so many times it becomes commonplace and dull.

My mother, Creola Kincaid Lewis, told me that her parents ordered her to stop making Egyptian-dancer hand gestures after she had done it dozens of times in one evening. Those hand gestures were popular with teenaged girls that year–1924–because King Tut’s tomb with all its well-persevered artifacts had been discovered and was a cultural phenomenon.

My grandfather, Henry Kincaid, said, “Sis, a few times was funny, but now you’re overdoing it, so stop it.”  We could all use that advice.

I won’t give them further attention by listing the popular once-funny-or-cute-or significant-but-now-overdone and hackneyed phrases or actions that distract from communications or reduce it to a trite level. I will just challenge you to notice yourself and vow to reduce the number of times you do, say or write that thing. Then, replace it with something more sincere, personal or original.

Most of us also have figures of speech, comments and opinions that we have said, using the same words every time, hundreds of times, to the point of dullness. Someone I know says, in almost every conversation, “I was a multi-tasker before multi-tasking was a word.” The first time she said it, it was an interesting addition to her comments. After hearing her say it hundreds of times, Henry Kincaid would tell her to stop it.

You can test yourself in several ways:

*What phrases do you use repeatedly that you think are particularly impressive, insightful, funny or current?
*What are the ways you describe yourself or others that immediately come to mind when you’re talking?
*What are the phrases you have read on the Internet or heard on a talk-show or TV or in a movie, that you have adopted for daily use?

Listen to yourself and be on the lookout for overused, hackneyed expressions. Even though you may think it is no worries if you don’t, those who communicate with you regularly will think you are awesome if you do. I’ll do a little Egyptian-dancer gesture to celebrate!

August 24th, 2014 Posted by | Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development | 6 comments


  1. The Internet has screwed up a lot of words and created new ones. My boss told me he had scored a great item. Then he told me to see if we could hack a solution for our scheduling problem. Then when I said I’d work on it he said, “Awesome”, which he says incessantly. I think he thinks it sounds youthful. You know me, so you know how I react mentally to things like that.

    Comment by Graham J. | August 25, 2014

  2. Tina, the group I’m in, that you know about, is extremely committed to our ideas. But, we made a vow to avoid saying things we hear from people who just want to vent and rant. “You don’t hear XXX condemning that, do you?” “You’ll notice XXX doesn’t show up to protest that.” “Where was XXX when this happened?” “How’s that working for you?” “I guess we should outlaw XX.”

    We also have stopped using negative sounding names for people in political parties we don’t agree with. It was a strong decision on our part and I was proud that we made those changes. Two people left the group because they said we had gotten too “P.C.”, which was another phrase we decided not to use!

    Now, let’s see that Egyptian gesture. Ha!

    Comment by Mike | August 25, 2014

  3. Hello, Ms. Rowe, thank you for the church security material. People in churches also tend to say the same phrases repeatedly, without really thinking about what they are saying. I had the habit of saying “praise the Lord”, every few sentences, until someone called it to my attention. It took me several months to break that habit but now I only say it when it has true significance.

    Thank you again for your help.

    Comment by deaconjones | August 25, 2014

  4. Another interesting article I can apply. I smiled at the reference to “no worries”, which has been called the national motto of Australia. I hear it mostly from young people who want to convey being easy-going, but I think it’s too informal for work situations. Keep going strong! P.

    Comment by P.L. | August 25, 2014

  5. Some of it is just pop culture like your mother’s 1924 gestures and they will go away to be replaced by something else. Texting has also created some shorthand that is convenient but not appropriate for work. I’m more concerned with the mindless responses to serious issues, mentioned by another commenter.

    Comment by Careerest | August 26, 2014

  6. I hope you’ll do an article about the ones we talked about in class… misuse of terms like shaming, blaming and phobic. It’s hard to have a real conversation anymore because people seem to not be thinking for themselves and their vocabulary is shrinking.

    Comment by Old Guy | August 26, 2014

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