Lately I have been noticing a lot of unnecessarily complex words in the samples I read for business writing classes. Here is a sampling of 10 words I have seen, along with simpler words that match each writer’s meaning:
mitigate = lessen, relieve
utilize = use
endeavor = effort, work
superfluous = extra, excess
customarily = usually
abbreviated = short
additional = other
concordance = agreement
surmise = guess
fungible = flexible, interchangeable
Most business readers would stumble over the words concordance and fungible. Many would wonder about superfluous and surmise. Some would need to guess the meaning of mitigate.
The other five words–utilize, endeavor, customarily, abbreviated, additional–are simply longer words than necessary. When business readers want quick, concise messages, sentences filled with long words do not meet their needs.
I asked one of the writers, who used several of the words listed above, whether he thought about what his readers needed. His answer surprised me: He knew I would be reading his work, and he wanted to impress me!
But I appreciate crisp, clear, short words that communicate the message. I read business documents for information–not for impressive vocabulary.
How about you? Do you like an occasional impressive word in the documents you read? Or is simplicity your preference? How many of the 10 words listed above did you recognize instantly?