What do the following groups have in common? Actors, musicians, 'Bake Off' contestants, football managers and people applying for a job.
Any ideas? No? Well I'll tell you. They are all guilty of the overuse of a word that has become one of my least favourite in the whole English language.
Yes, the dreaded 'P' word. Whenever there's a situation where someone needs, or wants, to talk themselves up, those ten letters are never far away.
“I'm so passionate about playing this role.”
“I'm a brain surgeon for a living, but I'm passionate about baking cupcakes.”
“They're a passionate bunch of players and I didn't think a 5-0 defeat reflected the match.”
“As an accountant, I'm passionate about auditing.”
It's everywhere: on television, in newspapers, on cv's. It's as if people believe that if they don't say it, then others will doubt their commitment or sincerity.
What's every bit as frustrating is when 'passionate' (I know, I've used it again) is uttered or written in the wrong context or at the expense of another, more suitable word.
Look at the four statements above. There are so many other words which could have been used. Without even putting too much thought into it, the following could be used instead: excited, overjoyed, love, happiest, determined, wholehearted, enjoy, excel.
Of course, passionate isn't the only word to suffer from this level of overkill. In the past, the term 'legend' was reserved for only the very best. To be bestowed with such an accolade, an individual would have to excel in their chose field or perform a never-to-be-forgotten act. Nowadays, people become legends by remembering to put the toilet seat down or by buying a takeaway on the way home.
From a copywriting perspective, there is a very fine line when it comes to words which are 'on-trend.' Hear or read them too often and they begin to lose their impact, becoming as attention grabbing as 'a' or 'the'.
That's why, in the near future at least, there are very few situations where I can imagine using the 'p' word. Unless a client absolutely demands it (or nothing else will do), I will be avoiding it and using something fresh and original.