Meaningless Meaningful Words

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

The songs of the dead are the lamentations of the living.
For gray-eyed Destiny now weaves apace, the first resounding note of war echoes across the land.
Movement flickered through it, like the swish of a bird across a clouded moon.


Did that sound painful and confusing to you?

Some people think that throwing around "meaningful" words such as "eternal", "chronicle", and so on makes language sound more important, more imposing, more at least... something. Same with uncalled-for similes, words such as "utilize" in place of "use", "dialogue" as a verb, and so on, especially if they're used incorrectly. This can be used in both character dialogue and narration.

Of course, big words and metaphors can be used right. They can even be built into a very good writing style. That's not what this trope is about. This trope refers to passages that use bad metaphors and so many "meaningful" words that it reduces them to Narm. At that point, it's bad. And meaningless.

Unfortunately, some writers just haven't gotten it yet. When this type of writing leaves the minds of melodramatic teenagers and enters mainstream TV and books, we all suffer. And when it enters news media and politics, we're really in trouble.

Not to be confused with Koan, which is when the expression actually means something, or Ice Cream Koan, which is when such phrases are meant to be meaningless. Contemplate Our Navels, Mind Screw and Vagueness Is Coming frequently contain aspects of this, however, and it's almost a requirement for Fauxlosophic Narration. A common staple of Purple Prose, Word Salad Philosophy and Mixed Metaphor. Concepts Are Cheap is possibly the worst outcome.

For naming conventions that rely on this trope, see Mad Lib Fantasy Title.

Examples of Meaningless Meaningful Words include:

Anime and Manga


Believe in the you who believes in the me who believes in that thing where you believe in the person who believes in the you who believes...


Comic Books


"Tune your ear to the frequency of despair, and cross-reference by the longitude and latitude of a heart in agony."

Upon reading this sentence Adam Cadre, who had been running a write-the-most-cringeworthy-sentence-you-can competition for the previous eight years, goes on a paragraph-long rant that starts with "Egad. That may well be the single worst sentence I have ever read."
  • The heroes in JLA: Act of God tried to sound deep but ended up sounding strange and confusing.

Wonder Woman: Two "Gods" humbled by an act of God... with no one else to turn to. But together will our humbling be canceled or doubled?



  • Parodized in the film version of Idiocracy when the idiotic people of the future who have some sort of authority throw around unnecessarily large words, often misusing or mispronouncing them. "Lets see if we can't commencerate these proceedings." "This test will help find you a job while you are a particular individual in jail."
  • The 1998 film The Man in the Iron Mask had a doozy of one. In reply to a perfectly sensible lament of the Queen's, Aramis came out with a memorable bit of important-sounding nonsense.

Queen: "I have raised a son who destroys lives instead of saving them, and I have failed to save a son who died within an iron mask.
Aramis: "No! That mask was Louis' creation. Now we have a chance to make a miracle -- to strip all masks away forever."

    • Considering the extent of his plan is to replace the nasty-creep brother on the throne with his nice-guy brother, that last statement makes absolutely no sense.
  • Happens in an otherwise perfect scene between Harry and Slughorn in Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince film. Slughorn tells a poignant story about Lily giving him a pet fish, but the script just couldn't leave it alone. It has to take it just a little too far by having Harry say "Or the fishbowl will always remain empty."
    • In the book, during Dumbledore's funeral, Harry listens to Elphias Doge give a eulogy, mentioning things like "strength of mind" or "nobility of spirit", and thinks it doesn't mean very much. He then remembers some of the first words he ever heard Dumbledore speak, at the beginning of his 1st year- "Nitwit, blubber, oddment, tweak!"- has to suppress a smile, and wonders what's the matter with him.
  • Due to Criswell's Fauxlosophic Narration, Plan 9 from Outer Space has a lot of this:

The grief from his wife's death became greater and greater agony. The home they had so long shared became a tomb, a sweet memory of her joyous living. The sky to which he had once looked was now only a covering for her dead body. The ever-beautiful flowers she had planted with her own hands became nothing more than the lost roses of her cheeks.


"Maybe feelings are feelings because we can't control them!"

  • Stock in trade for The Sphinx in Mystery Men. He's terribly mysterious. Mr Furious calls him out on it at one point.

Mr. Furious: Okay, am I the only one who finds these sayings just a little bit formulaic? "If you want to push something down, you have to pull it up. If you want to go left, you have to go right." It's...
The Sphinx: Your temper is very quick, my friend. But until you learn to master your rage...
Mr. Furious: ...your rage will become your master? That's what you were going to say. Right? Right?
The Sphinx: *beat* Not necessarily.

    • Heck, Mr. Furious loses the capacity to distinguish The Sphinx's mysterious sayings from his own meaningless brain farts:

The Sphinx: When you can balance a tack hammer on your head, you'll be able to fend off a balanced attack.
Mr. Furious: Okay, but why do I have these watermelons strapped to my feet?
The Sphinx: *beat* I don't remember telling you to do that.

  • Tootsie plays this for laughs with Jeff (played by Bill Murray), Michael Dorsey's playwright roommate. He waxes philosophical at Michael's birthday party in the beginning of the movie with a gaggle of followers who think he's the most profound man they've ever met, but he's pretty much spouting off pure gibberish.

I don't like it when people come up to me after my plays and say, "I really dug your message, man" or, "I really dug your play, man. I cried." You know. I like it when people come up to me the next day, or a week later, and they say, "I saw your play. What happened?"


Fellow Texans, I am proudly standing here to humbly see. I assure you, and I mean it- Now, who says I don't speak out as plain as day? And, fellow Texans, I'm for progress and the flag- long may it fly. I'm a poor boy, come to greatness. So, it follows that I cannot tell a lie.


(Chorus) Ooh I love to dance a little sidestep, now they see me now they don't-I've come and gone and, ooh I love to sweep around the wide step, cut a little swathe and lead the people on.


Now my good friends, it behooves me to be solemn and declare, I'm for goodness and for profit and for living clean and saying daily prayer. And now, my good friends, you can sleep nights, I'll continue to stand tall. You can trust me, for I promise, I shall keep a watchful eye upon ya'll...


Now, Miss Mona, I don't know her, though I've heard the name, oh yes. But, of course I've no close contact, so what she is doing I can only guess. And now, Miss Mona, she's a blemish on the face of that good town. I am taking certain steps here, someone somewhere's gonna have to close her down.

  • The 1992 Eddie Murphy movie The Distinguished Gentleman parodies the use of this among politicians. In the film, Murphy plays Thomas Jefferson Johnson, a con man who runs for Congress, and after he wins, he gives this speech:

Johnson: We ran a positive campaign. We campaigned on the issue. The issue is change. Change for the future. The people have spoken!
(the crowd cheers)
Johnson: Ask not what your country can do for you! You have nothing to fear but fear itself! If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen! Live free or die! And, in conclusion, read my lips!



  • The three quotes which headline the page were pulled from Eldest, Book Two of the Inheritance Trilogy Cycle. The first one is the opening line of the book, no less.
  • Parodied in the Discworld novel The Truth, in which William de Worde comments that the newspaper's tagline, "The Truth Shall Make You Free" (with the last word receiving typos as a Running Gag), sounds "very meaningful without, um, actually meaning anything."
    • Some of the typos, on the other hand... 'Fret' and 'Fere' especially.
    • Similarly, the banknotes in Making Money read "Doth Not A Penny To The Widow Outshine The Unconquered Sun". When asked what this actually means, Moist von Lipwig cheerfully admits he hasn't the slightest idea; he just threw together some words that sounded suitably impressive.
      • All the same, the title "The Unconquered Sun" (in Latin, sol invictus, also translatable as "invincible sun") was a title for the god Mithras. So at least that part does mean something, or did historically. Fridge Brilliance, perhaps, in that the joke is his accidentally stumbling upon an obscure historical fact via his bullshitting?
      • Knowing Pratchett and his fondness for Genius Bonus and Fridge Brilliance, this may indeed be reference to biblical 'Widow's Gift', historical 'Widow's Penny' and mythological Mithras (impressive concepts on their own) garbled and piled with no connection whatsoever for comedic purposes.
    • In general Moist has uncanny skill bluffing with deliberate Meaningless Meaningful Words (he is a Con Man, after all). One that comes to mind is his dramatic removal of a sack over his head during his test to become the Postmaster, proclaiming that "The Unfranked Man may walk in darkness, but the postman loves the light!" It doesn't mean anything at all... he just knew it was dramatic enough that the Brotherhood of Funny Hats could never bring themselves to disqualify him for it.
    • The pass phrases in Guards! Guards! The significant owl hoots in the night. The caged whale knows nothing of the mighty deeps.
      • That is actually parody of Spy Speak (it had to be so outrageously complex because Spy Speak is ridiculous in its own right).
  • In her essay From Elfland to Poughkeepsie, Ursula K. Le Guin took many of these on. The worst, she claimed, was "Ichor", the 'infallible touchstone of the 7th rate'. For the record, "ichor" is properly the blood of angels or gods, not "blood in general" or "any liquid." Le Guin makes a point of noting this.
  • Speaking of The Eye of Argon... 'nuff said.
  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the mice decide to claim that the Ultimate Question is "How many roads must a man walk down?" because it sounds deep without tying them down to any actual meaning.
    • What may be actually a subversion as the Ultimate Answer is a finite number...
  • In Twilight, Bella uses very melodramatic words to describe things. This was to make her sound smart, especially in contrast to the mediocre slang her classmates use.
  • Justified in Glen Cook's Black Company series. In the Books of the South, an overly melodramatic description of a stone plain is used repeatedly. Later on, the characters go to the Plain and find that the crucified demon, the glowing runes in the stones, and the freaky weather that are shown through the Purple Prose are not bad metaphors, they're simply accurate descriptions.
  • More Information Than You Require: "Say what you will, but a chicken has a long and pointy face."
  • George Orwell's archnemesis and the subject of his essay "Politics and the English Language." Read it.
  • Discussed in The Enchantress of Florence, where the traveller mocks the Emperor's use of the trope. He claims that "meaningful" maxims formulated by means of paradox often lead foolish men to think they've come up with wisdom. This offence almost got him killed by the vain Emperor, but the latter considered himself above such a thing and forgave him, which can be interpreted as an even greater act of vanity...
  • In Everworld, Token Evil Teammate and arguable Big Bad Senna purposely uses this when talking with her "friends" in an attempt to manipulate them. Unfortunately for her, most of them aren't going to accept it, especially Jalil.
  • P.G. Wodehouse uses quite a few of these for his character Madeline Bassett. I think the author describes it best through one of his characters:

She's one of those soppy girls, riddled from head to foot with whimsy. She holds the view that the stars are God's daisy chain, that rabbits are gnomes in attendance on the Fairy Queen, and that every time a fairy blows its wee nose a baby is born, which, as we know, is not the case. She's a drooper.


Live Action TV

  • Lampshaded in an episode of How I Met Your Mother in which Barney overuses and REALLY plays up (to the dismay of his friends) the word "legendary".
  • Doctor Who: Russell T. Davies seems to have a thing for the concept of "burning": the Doctor's homeworld burned; the Daleks burned; staring into the Time Vortex makes you burn; the Master's new Empire will burn across the universe... and so on. And considering it's unlikely we'll ever find out just what happened during the Time War, we have no idea if any burning actually took place.
    • Oh, and Davros flew into the jaws of the Nightmare Child at the Gates of Elysium. The Nightmare Child was something the Time Lords created or unleashed to fight the Daleks. In other words, he got eaten by a monster. It's really not that complicated.
    • This is taken to an almost tongue-in-cheek extreme in The End of Time, where The Nightmare Child is joined by the Skaro Degradations, the Could-Have-Been-King and his Army of Meanwhiles and Neverweres, and a whole host of other incredibly vague yet over-the-top-sounding beasties. The same episode tells us that novice Time Lords are first taken to view the Time Vortex through "a gap in the fabric of reality" called the Untempered Schism. To begin with, "schism" doesn't mean the same thing as "gap," but the real mystery is how either of them could be "tempered," or why it's notable that this one isn't.
    • Martha's explanation of her MacGuffin in "Journey's End" is Shaped Like Itself: "The Osterhagen Key is to be used if the suffering of the human race is so great, so without hope, that this becomes the final option." Well, yeah.
  • This writing style is consciously incorporated into a speech in the world of The West Wing:

Will: "...prove that self-determination is the watchword of all mankind."
Toby: "The watchword of all mankind"? I don't know what that means.
Will: Don't worry, neither will anyone else.

    • Not that Aaron "If fidelity to freedom of democracy is the code of our civic religion..." Sorkin has all the room in the world to talk, mind.
  • In an early episode of Robin Hood Robin and Marian have this rather baffling conversation:

Marian: You wander around as if nothing could hurt you. As if arrows would bounce off you. I do not think I’ve ever seen you hurt.
Robin: Oh, I have been hurt.
Marian: Tell me.
Robin is silent.
Marian: See? You think it is strong not to feel. But if you cannot admit you feel, how can you understand when others feel? How can you be a whole man?

    • Say whaaaat?
      • seems to mean something like the Superman argument where he has to understand people's suffering to want to save them; otherwise, he's just some guy. Of course, this ignores the fact that Superman is an alien with superpowers, so of course he'd have to make an extra effort to identify with humanity when rogue supers come out to play, rather than join the bad guys who are more like him than the Muggles he protects.
      • Or that by keeping a stiff upper lip approach and not admitting weakness, he can't empathise with the people he's purporting to protect and distancing himself from them, as well as from her. Fairly straightforward, it's similar to the accusations leveled at James Bond in GoldenEye.
  • From Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in the episode where the First Slayer is chasing the gang in their dreams, every word that the Cheese Man says.


  • One word: Esoteric
  • As of the American Idiot / 21st Century Breakdown era, Green Day has an unfortunate habit of throwing around pretty words that don't seem to fit in well with the song's meaning and gratuitous references to Christianity (especially crucifixion). For example, take this snippet from "Restless Heart Syndrome":

So what ails you is what impales you
I feel like I've been crucified to be satisfied

    • Reading a lyrics sheet of almost any song from these two albums is like tossing Word Salad. Many songs have large sections of lyrics that just don't make sense even in context. It's as if Dr. Seuss wrote the lyrics, only instead of making up nonsense words to fit rhymes, he makes up nonsense sentences.
  • As the lead singer of Yes, Jon Anderson built a successful career on writing and singing meaninglessly 'profound' lyrics: "Dawn of light lying between a silence and sold sources...." The only thing worse than hearing Jon Anderson sing these is hearing Steve Howe try to sing them.
  • "These Things" by She Wants Revenge seems to be about a love/hate relationship falling apart... but it's hard to tell as it seems to be made up of random phrases that the songwriter thought sounded poetic.
  • A live recording of Dar Williams' "It's Alright" includes her explanation of what inspired the song, which was, among other things, a friend telling her that she (the friend) had watched some program that said that "a warrior is really 100% vulnerable". Williams repeats this (several times, even) as if it's a great revelation, but while it sounds kinda deep, it's also vague enough as to not mean much of anything.
    • The entire song is like this.
  • This is extremely prevalent in music, as many bands don't even attempt to write lyrics that mean anything. For example, many Nirvana or Red Hot Chili Peppers songs don't actually have a discernable topic. This isn't a bad thing, as the words can be said to create an atmosphere that fits the music (imagine the difference, for example, if the probably deliberately meaningless Nirvana title "Rape Me" had been renamed "Kiss Me"). Unlike narrative works, music lyrics don't actually have to make sense.
    • Not a great example, since "Rape Me" is pretty clearly about Cobain's aversion to the press, and one of the few songs by them with a clear definition. Better examples include: Smells Like Teen Spirit or Territorial Pissings. RHCP's examples include pretty much all of their first few albums (see Fight Like a Brave for a good sample). For a more recent example, the love it or hate it Hump De Bump is pretty much a Trope Codifier.
  • Dragon Force (video game). The lyrics are meaningless.
  • To quote Mike Patton:

"[Lyrics] come from my head, my ass, my toilet, my pillow, places like that."
"I think that too many people think too much about my lyrics. I am more a person who works with the sound of a word than with its meaning. Often I just choose the words because of the rhythm not because of the meaning."



Trading Card Games

  • The flavor text of Bronze Calendar, from Magic the Gathering's Unglued joke set, is "Every page holds a month, every date a numeral." According to Mark Rosewater, it "makes fun of a certain style of flavor text where we sound lyrical but aren't really saying anything."

Video Games

  • Lampshaded in Silent Hill 3. If you examine a movie poster in Heather's bedroom, she remembers a line of dialog from it. "The sun always rises. It's corny, but it's true. But if you close your eyes, it always feels like night." Heather then goes on to comment that she always liked that line, but now she thinks it sounds stupid.
  • During the final few hours of Grandia II, most of the heroes continuously say things like "True power... true justice is in the heart" and talk an awful lot about "the power of the human heart".
  • The Kingdom Hearts series has its share of this. In Kingdom Hearts II, a villain tells you that "if light and darkness are eternal, then surely we Nobodies are the same. Eternal!" Ouch. It wasn't so much what was said, but the delivery, and especially the way the word "eternal" was emphasized and drawn out, as if it somehow had special meaning. Of course the heroes tell him to shut up and take his beating.
  • In Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, Genesis is constantly quoting from a play called Loveless. It contains lines like:

When the war of the beasts brings about the world's end
The goddess descends from the sky
Wings of light and dark spread afar
She guides us to bliss, her gift everlasting

    • It's fair to also add that in the original Final Fantasy VII, Cid claims to have seen the play, and quotes from it. The version he saw didn't suck as much.
    • In Dirge of Cerberus, Weiss Hojo goes on several extended and overwrought rants about all the horrible stuff he's going do to the human race now that he's back. Their only saving grace is that they're delivered oozing with Ham and Cheese by both characters' voice actors.
  • Bayonetta: Father Balder, the (apparent) Big Bad, delivers such a speech to Bayonetta in the penultimate chapter, repeating himself three whole times. The Reveal is actually easy to understand: ( Bayonetta is effectively half of God Herself, magically transported to the future. Only by meeting her past self could she recover from the Laser-Guided Amnesia and awaken.) However, Balder buries this information under so many Meaningless Meaningful Words that he is borderline incomprehensible. Interestingly, Luca actually Lampshades this shortly after he finishes.
  • The original Silent Hill's intro begins with the cryptic phrase "The fear of blood tends to create fear for the flesh." Yeah, I don't know either.
    • Wait, wouldn't you be just a tad bit concerned for your safety if you were in a creepy town with blood gratuitously smeared everywhere?
    • One possible interpretation is that it refers to Alessa reaching adolescence while in a crippled state, and her horrified confusion caused by the strange changes her body is undergoing.[1] It correlates with one of the game's main inspirations: Stephen King's Carrie.
    • In Shattered Memories, Kaufman goes into a long rant about sex during one of the session scenes that follows along the lines of "You're probably thinking 'why haven't we talked about sex yet? I thought you psychiatrists are supposed to be obsessed with sex.' It's not us, it's you. Sex is death. The flying leap into the abyss, the losing of one's self, the tiger in space! To deny sex is to deny death itself! You're either getting enough, or not. And you are obviously not getting enough... let's see this through."
  • Lampshaded in The Sith Lords, when Atton mocks "Jedi talk".

Atton: "Just so you Jedi know, the whole "cryptic routine" isn't mysterious, it's just irritating. If you really can see the future, you should be at the pazaak table."
Exile: "But to know the future, one must know yourself."
Atton: "What was that, some kind of joke? That's what I'm talking about. "Jedi talk". You two should start your own little Jedi Academy."
Exile: "But to teach, one must be willing to learn."
Atton: "All right, all right! Cut it out, I get it, I get it! The last Jedi in the galaxy, I get the comedian who runs around in her underwear. Not that I'm complaining, mind you."

    • Incidentally, when most Jedi speak this way, it comes across as this. Typically it's actually a Jedi Truth or a Cassandra Truth that's been very cunningly disguised, apparently for no reason except that the Jedi are pretentious assholes.
  • This is usually how Dr. Higginbotham from Little Big Planet 2 communicates.

"Huge Spaceship is not a spaceship; it is a broken thought on a petal wing."


Web Comics

  • In this strip, down a bit closer to the bottom, Penny Arcade addresses this sort of dialogue in their usual way.
  • A Modest Destiny: Morris, Full Stop. What can you expect, he's insane and the pope . WARNING: THE LAST HALF OF SEASON 4 IS DEFINITELY NOT SAFE FOR WORK, IN A BAD WAY.

Morris: Our shadow threatens to be our shadow no longer!
Ruby: Say what?
Morris: Parallel becomes tandem. Single file we march, but our matter cannot coexist!
Ruby: Do you have to be insane to become Pope, or does becoming Pope cause you to become insane?
Morris: Errraaarghh! Train hit train! Go boom!


Western Animation

  • In the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon, when Eric has been made Dungeon Master, his friends receive this nugget of esoteric wisdom: "You will find it, unless it finds you first. It is far off, though in truth it is very near"—to which the other kids reply, "Boooo!"
  • The Secret Saturdays.

 Zak: Sweet sounds of nature's beautifuliss majesty.
(Fisk gives him a weird look)
Zak: What? It's a word... in British.

  • An episode of The Simpsons brilliantly parodies the use of this in election speeches.

'Bill Clinton': We must move forwards, not downwards, upwards, not forwards, and ever twirling, twirling, twirling toward freedom!

    • An even better example from the executive session discussing the eponymous new character in The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show (also cp. the "Real World" folder):

Krusty: So he's proactive, huh?
Network Executive: Oh, God, yes. We're talking about a totally outrageous paradigm.
Writer #3: Excuse me, but "proactive" and "paradigm"? Aren't those just buzzwords that dumb people use to sound important? Not that I'm accusing you of anything like that. (pause) I'm fired, aren't I?
Roger Meyers, Jr.: Oh, yes.


Hadji: Every great fiction held strongly in human belief is the mistaken image of some great truth.
Jessie: What the heck does that mean?
Hadji: To be completely honest, I'm not entirely certain. But you must admit it does sound profound!


Real Life

  • An old American cliche back from when the country was both more religious and still New Deal was "The Brotherhood of Man Under The Fatherhood of God". Consequently such windy cliches became known as "Bomfog".
  • The blurbs on the back cover of books, discs, and everything else tend to have a lot of this. Apparently your new novel explores "themes of friendship and loss". Well, some of the characters certainly are friends... and some of them lose things...
    • Try every novel assigned in English classes. Some of the "explored" themes Completely Miss the Point. Most of the time, the "themes" are like what's said above- the characters are friends and they do lose things/loved ones. That's hardly the theme of the entire novel.
      • To drive point further, particular themes are usually used by authors (unless they are groundbreaking masters). They are explored by literature theorists or historians.
  • Sadly, this applies to every single corporate buzzword. Ever.
    • One might argue that that it is the inherent characteristic of buzzwords that almost always are scientific terms used in improper context.
    • Synergize, Synergy, Synergistic.
      • Speaking of which, this IBM commercial is a Take That to that concept. The employees devise a "corporate meeting" version of BINGO, because they're bored to tears with such meaningless meetings that are clogged full of those annoying buzzwords.
    • Best practices, in business, retail, food service...anywhere.
    • Any time the word "paradigm" comes up, and not in an ironic way. Nine times out of ten, if you asked the person who just used the word to define it, you'll either get more empty blather, an admission that they don't really know what it means, an insistence that it's one of those words you can't really define but you just know what it means, or a long paused followed by "I guess it basically means ... 'thing.'"
      • Just for the record: The American Heritage Dictionary defines paradigm thusly: 1. One that serves as a pattern or model. 2. A set or list of all the inflectional forms of a word or of one of its grammatical categories. (The paradigm of an irregular verb.) 3. A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.
      • The one common exception is in the software development/computer science fields, where it has a distinct, clearly-defined meaning similar to the above (used to refer to the competing design methodologies). Have fun telling the meaningless from the meaningful in a reasonably large company.
      • Its close sister is "thinking outside the box", which usually sprouts from the same speech. "New Paradigm" basically means "Here's another box I want you to think in."
      • "Paradigm" is used a lot in the social sciences, where it essentially means theoretical "fads" (for example, in the late 1800s in psychology, structuralism was all the rage - in the 1950s, it was behaviourism). Knowing the paradigm that was in place while a study or experiment was performed is important for understanding it and its limitations, so it has a real meaning in these fields.
      • People who weren't paying attention in classes tend to mix up paradigm. method and environment.
    • Anything new in a corporate environment is described as "exciting," and those involved are always "excited." Company drew up a new mission statment? Exciting! What do you think of the upcoming merger? I'm excited! Did you hear Shiela got a new plant on her desk? How exciting! Excitement is apparently the only emotion middle-management types are capable of feeling.
    • Advertising copy is equally bad. No, your new vegetable slicer is not "revolutionary," nor is it "extreme."
      • One of my favorites was a car ad where the tagline was "We've changed everything." It's a metal, glass and plastic box, powered by a fossil fuel engine, running down the road on rubber tires while controlled by a person sitting on the left side of the front seat using a steering wheel and pedals. So "everything" apparently means "nothing".
  • Really Bad Lawyers using Latin to hide the fact they don't know what the Latin means.
  • The Internet's abuse of the word "epic", as well as "awesome". "Fail" is getting there too.
  • As with the example from The Simpsons above, pretty much any election campaign in any country will see copious abuse of meaningless buzzwords, rhetoric and catchphrases from at least one, often both sides. Australians actually got sick of it in the 2010 election, where the catchphrase 'Moving Forward' lasted about a day.
  • A favorite of network slogan/mottos, which are generally designed to try and create a vague sense of camaraderie and connection, without actually making any promises or going over an easy soundbite. "Now, more than ever" is an excellent example of this, leading to many asking "What now more than ever?!"
    • Tru TV's "Not reality. Actuality" is almost shockingly meaningless.
  • 'Consume' is quite a popular substitute for 'use' in IT departments.


  • Egregious.
  • According to some, postmodernism. Exhibit 1. Or indeed, any use of "post-" as a prefix (postironic, postfeminism etc). The problem is how the writer has reached the conclusion that we're all "post" a certain movement, and "when" exactly that leaves us now.
    • The word 'postmodernism' itself. Even among seemingly well-educated people this term is often used as synonym of 'deconstruction' even though the latter is being used since ancient times, sometimes to the point of Deconstrutor Fleet. It makes you wonder if some 'experts' ever heard of Aristophanes, Villon, Cervantes or Rabelais.
  • This ru-net meme, which is basically a pseudo-psychological chunk of incoherent big words:
  • Is this trope subverted on this very wiki? No.
  • Just about any term used by politicians. Whose "values"? What is "traditional" anyway - is it a tradition of 20 years ago or of 100? The same word can mean different things coming from different politicians.
    • In 1984, Colorado Senator Gary Hart gave a strong showing in the race for Democratic nominee for President by running on a platform of "new ideas." However, the vagueness of the phrase, and his constant repetition thereof, made it so that his campaign sunk when Walter Mondale told him during a debate: "When I hear your new ideas I'm reminded of that ad, 'Where's the beef?'"
  • Some words are used just because they're bigger. 'Instantaneous' does not mean 'instant.' 'Irregardless' is a made up word that means 'regardless.'
  1. Alternatively she understands that the onset of her periods {Blood} means she is ready for childbirth {Flesh}, and thus the birth of the God is nigh.
  2. US only...sorry.