lazyjanegifBoyfriend D.J. is 49 years old. He’s a successful lawyer with four area offices. He cycles more than 200 miles a week and volunteers time for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

He is most definitely a full-grown man.

And sometimes I call him the most ridiculous of frat-boy nicknames.


I call D.J. and others “dude” out of a lazy habit, a contagion born of a relationship with a younger man. My Philadelphia ex-boyfriend, 7 years my junior, called me “dude” the first week he met me. His nickname made me stop mid-sentence.

“Did you just call me ‘dude’?” I asked.

“I call everybody ‘dude.’ I call my mother ‘dude,'” he said.

(He also loudly and theatrically passed gas for me that first week, thinking I’d find it humorous and him charming. I did not.)

Embarrassingly, I still use the word. As I said, it’s because I’m too lazy to think of other words, and I’ve settled into a comfortable habit.

I’m the same way with my writing sometimes, but I’m trying to improve. Here are five horribly lazy habits I have seen in marketing copy I’ve written for clients:

  • X Company is the leading provider of Y services
  • X product is your best solution
  • X service is a one-stop resource
  • Anything with the word maximize
  • X Company is the place/the answer/the solution

The problem with these words is that they no longer mean anything. Every company has become the leading provider. Every writer promises that you can use a product or service to maximize. We’ve seen these things so much that we no longer pay attention. They have become space holders on a page.

I frequently run across conversations about word choices that copywriters should avoid and techniques for improving your copy. Here are a handful…

A copywriter’s rant: Marketing with cheesy cliches and lazy words

Why jargon feeds on lazy minds

How to lose 30 pounds of word flab overnight

The two most important words in blogging

The Cliche Finder and The Political Cliche Site (just for fun)

PS — the graphic is one of my all-time favorite poems from one of my all-time favorite poets, Shel Silverstein.