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Going viral on steroids: New York Times style editor on his pet peeves

June 23rd, 2010Posted by in Editors' pick

The New York Times’ style guide editor, Philip Corbett, shares some of the ‘phrases we love too much’ on the Times’ Topic blog today.

His pet peeves include the all too frequent use of “on steroids” to describe an extreme of something.

I thought the faddish use of “on steroids” to describe anything bigger or splashier had run its course. But three new examples in less than two weeks made me think again. Given its origins, the metaphor seems not only overdone but also a bit tone-deaf. After all, baseball players on steroids are not really new and improved; they’re cheating. Let’s consider giving this one a long rest.

Other modern turns of phrase, such as to ‘go viral’, also made his list.

In just two days recently, we reported that these things had “gone viral”: Helen Thomas’s comments on Israel, an obscure British blogger’s comments on the euro and a drinking game involving Smirnoff Ice. The phrase can be a handy shorthand, but it risks wearing out its freshness quickly. Let’s be judicious.

I personally see red every time someone giving a far-from-expert opinion on something is referred to as a ‘guru’.

See his full post here, and feel free to share your own overused phrase pet peeves below.

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