Sneaky Little Weasels


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They are everywhere. Striking when you least expect it. Sneaky. Damaging. Terrifying.

Weasel Words.

You know you’ve seen them.

You’re reading a book. Suddenly, you realize that the author has used the words “arching brows” on EVERY SINGLE PAGE. Or that characters keep “slouching into” various articles of clothing. Perhaps every bit of dialogue begins with “Well” or “So” or “As I was saying”.

Weasel Words make me nauseous.

Especially when I find them in….GASP….my OWN WORK!

Lately, I’ve noticed the word “just”. “He just couldn’t believe…”, “She just walked on over…”, “Just like her mother, she just couldn’t be just her just self. Even just for a just a minute…”


Thank goodness writers get several chances to eradicate the sneaky little weasels.

Tell me, if you’re a writer, what are some of your weasel words? Are you a reader? What weasel words have you encountered in a book? Do you talk? What weasel words pop out of your mouth? 

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15 thoughts on “Sneaky Little Weasels

  1. Marianne Badongen April 3, 2013 — 10:10 am

    In my newsletters and research writing, my weasel words would be “however”, “This writer thinks…”, “This writer feels…”, and “In light of all the evidence…”. These are just (he he) a few of what I can remember now.


      1. Marianne Badongen April 3, 2013 — 10:22 am

        I thought I was the only one with this issue. I constantly tell myself to get a wider vocabulary. Glad to see someone with a huge vocabulary struggles with the same problem.


      2. Tell you what…even Shakespeare has weasel words. 🙂


  2. My weasel words are “That” and “Suddenly.” I didn’t even realized I struggled with “That” until I was challenged to do a word search for it and see how many times it popped up. I was shocked to say the least. Some words just seem to slide in without being typed at all! 😀

    ~AKA Paul


    1. Yes! When editing “Paint Chips” the copy editor had to take out a lot of “that”! Ack!


  3. “That” is my big one. It’s one I am always on the prowl for.


      1. LOL. “that” we must!


      2. I recently when on a “low-that” diet, cutting “that” at every possible opportunity, only to have my proofreaders re-insert them. Now I don’t know what to do with “that.”


  4. My weasel words are: just, even, that, and so. In my WIP I find myself using the same phrases to describe anger and tears. Unfortunately, at this moment I can’t recall the phrase. Sigh!


    1. Oh, I understand exactly what you’re saying about describing emotions! Ugh! I do that exact thing.


  5. My weasel words are those academic-sounding show-off words, when a simple one will do just fine.


    1. If you’ve got it, flaunt it…in the first draft, at least. 🙂


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