The Vocab Detox: Phrases, Words and Slang Terms to Stop Using

The Vocab Detox: Phrases, Words and Slang Terms to Stop Using

Give these up if you know what’s good for you



There’s no reason to wait for a New Year to usher in a new you. That’s the great thing about detoxing your vocabulary. Unlike signing up to learn a new skill or taking up a new hobby, here, you get to work with something you already have (your words) and therefore can improve on straight away. Start tomorrow. Start today. Start this minute!


As it were, going about a vocab detox is easier said than done. It requires a constant state of awareness and a conscious effort to filter, fine-tune and fight the urge to use lingo you’ve grown accustomed to. Go ahead and put in the work, because the payoff is always worth it. A more thoughtful use of language can be what gets you an opportunity in the workplace, gives someone a good lasting impression or saves you from looking clueless—or worse, dumb.

Hey, words are free. It’s how you use them that may cost you.



It’s not the word per se that should be eliminated for your vocabulary; it’s the overuse of the word. Don’t wear out the well-meaning expression by over-apologizing to merely cushion an awkward or unideal situation. If you have nothing to be sorry about anyway, why apologize?

Now, on to apologies that are genuine: know that these are always welcome. What’s even better though is following them up with: “how can I make it right?” or “how can I fix this?” This not only shows concern, but initiative and a desire to right a wrong.



“I don’t know” 

The Vocab Detox: Phrases, Words and Slang Terms to Stop Using

Don’t expect to dazzle anyone with this phrase. “I don’t know” may be the figurative safe haven for people who are afraid to get things wrong (okay, understandable), but it is also the cop-out for those who don’t want to deal with decision-making. In this case, it may come off as uncooperative, lazy and uncaring. Instead of saying “I don’t know” in scenarios wherein you sincerely do not know the answer, try saying: “I’ll make it a point to find out.”




This one’s up for debate. Apparently “literally” is now an accepted—albeit informal—expression to denote emphasis. Still, the root word remains to be “literal” which means “to take words in their usual or most basic sense without metaphor or allegory.” Call us purists, but we’d rather stick to the old description and insist that “literally” and words like “actually” or “seriously” are not interchangeable.

So, no, Rachel Zoe who is obviously alive and well. You literally did not just die.



“I can’t”

Or do you mean you won’t?

“I can’t make it to dinner later” and “I can’t meet this deadline” are seemingly harmless responses (at least you responded, right?) but saying “I can’t” is like saying you’re fine letting external forces call the shots for you. It reflects self-doubt, self-judgment or giving into defeat before even getting started.

Contrary to your “I can’t”, know that you have a lot more control over what happens to you and, if not, control over how you respond to whatever happens to you.



“I can’t even”

“I can’t even” is said when the speaker ironically is in a state of speechlessness from either shock, exasperation or euphoria. Again, ironically, “I can’t even” is communicative enough without having to communicate much (context here is everything). Everyone has had days wherein they can’t even, making it by far the most relatable meme, but there’s got to be a better way to articulate yourself.



“Don’t blame me”

“Don’t blame me” is a defense mechanism that tells people you are only looking out for number one. In the spirit of team work and camaraderie, this is definitely not the direction you want to take the conversation in.

It comes in other forms like “it’s not my fault”, “but I wasn’t the one who…” and all other phrases that communicate sarcastically taking the blame just get an issue over and done with. (Everyone knows a person who loves to take the “sige na! Ako na! Ako na may kasalanan!” route.)




It’s alright (in fact, it’s inevitable) to pick up slang terms your friends or colleagues use. Modern-day slang and internet lingo have the amazing ability to bring people together even when taken offline. Besides, why take away the fun when you’re presented with a new, interesting way of saying the same old thing?

No matter how casual things become in the workplace and other rather formal settings, we still have to draw the line somewhere. Enter: “shook”.

This is what happens when you are shocked, surprised or can’t believe what you are seeing. It’s a slang term used so often, it’s lost its effectiveness and has also gotten very annoying. When every little thing can get you shook, then the expression loses its meaning, no?



“On fleek”

“On fleek” is another way of saying that something is on point, but please, pretty please, just go ahead and say “on point”. A person who uses “on fleek” in this day and age is the equivalent of that pa-hip tita of yours who constantly bugs you about how you haven’t accepted her Facebook friend invite. She’s not like a regular tita; she’s a cool tita.



“It’s so traffic”

Traffic is a noun and not an adjective. It is therefore incorrect to say “it’s so traffic.” Traffic jams? Yes. Heavy traffic? Yes. Sobrang traffic? It’s so traffic outside? No. Just no. Please express your frustrations about EDSA, C5 and the giant gridlock that is Manila correctly.



“Go here”

The Vocab Detox: Phrases, Words and Slang Terms to Stop Using

Here’s another widely used but incorrect phrase. When a speaker says “can you go here?” when asking a person to head to wherever they are, they should actually say “can you come here?” Use “go” for any location away from you if you are the speaker. When referring to things towards you and your location, use “come.”


The Vocab Detox: Phrases, Words and Slang Terms to Stop Using


The trials of past years may have gotten you shookt AF so you literally can’t even RN, but it’s time to let go of these phrases, words and slang terms that don’t do anything for you. If the words you want to use don’t add value to what you’re trying to say, perhaps it’s better to opt for silence.


Also think of it this way: 2018 might just be the year you can even.



Art Alexandra Lara

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