Cultural experiences and funny musings by two twenty-somethings living abroad

Isn’t it Ironic? (Top 5 Misused Words)


After going on a night out and hearing people misuse words here, there and everywhere, we thought it’d be a good idea to put together a short little list of the favourite words we all hear and misuse!


Often taken to mean, “completely destroy”, it really means, “to destroy 10%”. So when newsreaders say that people’s bank savings were decimated by the prolific actions of bankers, we can rest assured that 90% of our savings are still safe…. right?

In fairness though, many words take on new meanings over the course of time and “decimate” is just one of those words. According to a blog by Oxford dictionaries ( , the word had the meaning of both “completely destroy” and “destroy by 10%” when it first appeared, so I guess it’s alright to use both meanings, but it’s still ambiguous!


Oh one of my favourites. This is honestly one of the most misused words I know and I could talk about it (perhaps not so literally) for days. When someone says, “I’m literally being driven up the wall”, instead of wondering what’s bugging them, I’m more interested in whatever that thing may be that can drive people up walls and when someone says they were “literally brushed off their feet”, I’m wondering who would hit them so hard with a broomstick that it caused them to fall over. Nick Clegg also remarked once that you “see people literally in a different galaxy”. I don’t know about his eyesight, but I struggle to see ants on the pavement at the other end of the street let alone people in an entirely different galaxy. In any case, it’s a word that is incredibly misused as an intensifier and runs the risk of losing its meaning. The only problem though is that the words that should actually be used are somewhat pretentious: “figuratively” and “metaphorically”. Will we ever catch Jamie Redknapp saying, “In his youth, Michael Owen was metaphorically a greyhound”? Personally I doubt it.  But those sentences are so much better when a “like” is thrown in for good measure.


Believe it or not, it’s not another word for enormousness. It actually used to describe something that’s extremely evil. And I don’t think that’s what George Bush Senior thought it meant when he said he couldn’t believe the enormity of being elected as the president of the USA…


No, not the best, but the last! Imagine the rush of Apple users to the shops if and when Apple unveils its “Ultimate iPhone”. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be the proud owner of Apple’s last-ever-produced iPhone? Almost all businesses are guilty of this at some point


It’s another nice little word that we like to misuse. Alanis Morissette misused this word big time when penning her song “Ironic”, which, ironically, is not ironic. When it rains on your wedding day or you die the day after winning the lottery or you’re stuck in a traffic jam when you’re already late, it’s not ironic, it’s just good ol’ fashioned bad luck.



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This entry was posted on August 14, 2013 by in Things that make us go 'hmmmm' and tagged , .
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