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Crutch words: What are they?

Crutch words are a group of words we use to fill up a gap when we are giving presentations or in day-to-day discussions, and we are not sure how to continue the conversation or we haven’t quite thought through the point we wanted to make.

Everyone uses crutch words from time to time, but it is very important to identify the best moment to use them as they may weaken the point we are trying to convey. When you use unnecessary words in your argument, it distracts and detracts from the main idea of the sentence.

As we’ve established before, everyone uses crutch words and everyone has their own “personal favorites”. Here we offer you a list of crutch words that are used so commonly that they should be avoided.

10 crutch words you should “totally” take out of your vocabulary 

  • Literally: This crutch word’s original meaning has literally been changed due to the misuse of the phrase by so many people! (see what I did there?), the original meaning of literally reads “In a literal manner or sense; exactly.”

Ex: “the driver took it literally when asked to go straight over the roundabout”, however the new meaning of literally is equal to that as “figuratively”. For example: “She literally drowned herself with work.”

Example of crutch use:

“I was at work and I literally saw Jeff eating everything he could find! I mean I literally felt disgusted by the sight, I literally hurled at what I saw”

  • Very: While the use of this adverb in the right way means “to a large degree”, many people tend to use this word paired with simpler adjectives instead of using the right word or to intensify words that can’t be intensified. For example: “That is very unique”, the word unique doesn’t have degrees so it is either unique or not unique.

Example of crutch use:

“I was very happy to see the new development at work. Lucas has worked very much on the project ”

Instead, you should say:

“I was very happy excited to see the new development at work. Lucas has worked very much a lot on the project ”


  • So: It is such a useful conjunction when used in the right way. However, many people tend to start their phrases using the word “so”. This, of course, shows the speaker isn’t sure how to begin the talk or simply how to ask a question without sounding rude.

Example of crutch use:

“So, has anyone spoken to the marketing team yet?”

  • Right?: A very common crutch word used by many of us (guilty of charge) to somehow validate the point we have made simply by adding it to the end of our sentences or as a way to check (a bit too constantly) if people are following on what you’re saying.

Example of crutch use:

“I was at work right? And then I saw my boss coming out of my manager’s office and just then I saw her crying right? And I literally had no idea how to console her”

  • Look: This already quite handy verb has been misused in ways it makes it sound rather threatening.

Example of crutch use:

“Look, Paul I know what the weather is like in France, I lived there.” – I didn’t even have to attach an audio file to this as you can clearly read the tension and distance which infuses the phrase. Now imagine if you were to actually say it.

  • Totally: the definition of the word totally says it means “completely; absolutely.” Many people use “totally” to express agreement or to emphasize something they’ve said.

Examples of crutch use:

“I am totally sorry about what happened”

“Don’t you think it is his fault? Totally”

  • Basically: This word means “the most fundamental simple way”, the overuse of the word is hurting the meaning of the word, and also, it can seem quite condescending to use it too often or seemingly out of place.

Examples of crutch use:

“We have a couple of business analyst but I basically do the hard work”

“She basically isn’t sure if she should accept the promotion”

  • Like: It is interspersed in dialogue to give a speaker more time to think or because the speaker has made it a habit to use the word. It gives a bad impression of you considering the most habitual users of this crutch word are teenagers.

Examples of crutch use:

“She was like, sure why not?”

“He told me like, I should figure something out or like, get a job or something”

  • Awesome: Things described by this word should, in fact, make you feel in “awe” of them. Currently, this word is used too liberally diminishing its real meaning.

Example of crutch use:

“A: The mail is here

B: Oh, awesome”

I wouldn’t categorise the mail arrival as something which makes me feel in “awe” of it.

  • The thing is…: In a professional setting especially, prefacing your comment or idea by saying “the thing is” dilutes completely the meaning of the idea you are about to explain.

Examples of crutch use:

“A: We need to find a way to increase the numbers this year.

B: Well, the thing is not really as dire as it seems”



What are some of your crutch words? Are they on the list? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to share this article with literally all your friends, they’ll totally love it.