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Science writer Carl Zimmer has put up a permanent home for his list of words banned from good science writing.

A battle for wordsmiths. May well-crafted verbal claymores ring and shields hold true to the onslaught…

Among those banished from the pages of good science writing are:

  • ‘Holy Grail’. (What? No one true quest?)
  • ‘Paradigm shift’. (There’s altogether too much of this shifty business…)
  • ‘Seminal’. (Apart from self-aggrandisment it’s easily, er, misread as mislaid wild oats all that.)
  • ‘We’. (We must step down from the royal all-knowing ‘we’ to the ranks of common soldier.)
  • ‘Missing link’ really has to go. (Although I’m sure creationists will demand that it stays!)

Carl seems to be happy to take suggestions, so wander on over. You’re welcome to suggest some here too.

Bear in mind, though, that’s he talking about “writing about science, not doing or reporting science”.

I feel like suggesting, in jest, that he banish ‘antecedent’, which he uses to describe one of the banished words (‘This’). No doubt he’d excuse himself on the grounds that his list isn’t science writing!


Some other science journalism posts in Code for life:

Beautiful and informative data presentation

Science communication bookshelf: suggestions, thoughts?

Scientists on TV: referees of evidence or expert’s opinion?

Genetic tests and personalised medicine, some science communication issues

Note to science communicator: alleles, not “disease genes”

Three kinds of knowledge about science journalism

Science journalism: critical analysis not debate

Sidebar scientists

Scientists can’t write?

Book review: Victorian Popularizers of Science