May 18, 2021

Do you have a word shit list?

Image text: What words or phrases are on your shit list?Do you have a Word Shit List? These are the marketing buzzwords, internet clichés, and pop-culture-isms that are: played out, culturally appropriative, sexist, misrepresentative, or just plain annoying. It’s a list of language you’d like to exclude from your brand, for whatever reason. (See also: “I don’t want to” = a valid reason.)

There’s an element of personal preference here for sure—for example, my list includes super bro-marketing terms like “10x-ing” things, because I personally find that kind of talk extremely eye-roll inducing, AND—and this is important—it’s 👏🏼 not 👏🏼 what 👏🏼 my 👏🏼 readers 👏🏼 want 👏🏼 to 👏🏼 hear.

So, this isn’t about shitting on things just for the sake of it (although that kind of thing can be fun). It’s about who you are, and who you want to be, in your business.

I always make a Word Shit List for my clients, because it helps establish their voice and set parameters for what we do and don’t say inside their brands. Sometimes, a word will make the List because it has an undesirable connotation—like the word “coach” (for some people). Other times, *I* put words on the List, like ‘ninja’ or ‘tribe’, because they’re culturally insensitive and it’s my recommendation to stop using them.

In short, LANGUAGE MATTERS. Just ask Amanda Montell, whose book Cultish comes out this summer! (👈🏻 shameless / non sequitur plug for an author & sociolinguist I like)

Here are a few gems from my personal Shit List. What’s on yours??

  • serial entrepreneur
  • anything about rosé and/or implying that all women entrepreneurs are lushes
  • girlboss and all its attendant nonsense

Seriously. Add yours in the comments. Nothing is off limits! And feel free to dispute mine. Let’s. Get. Into. It.

Samantha Pollack

About Sam

Samantha Pollack writes creative copy (mostly emails) for feminist companies and/or thought leaders who are working to build a fairer, more connected culture. She’s also the founder of The Highly Sensitive Entrepreneur, a 6-week course that helps HSP business owners create healthier, more sustainable systems in their work. 

She publishes frequent essays on feminism, privilege, pop culture, entrepreneurship, the creative process, and more on her website, She currently lives in Asheville, NC, and while she can *technically* work from anywhere, she prefers her adventures laptop-free.

Emails for cult thought leaders.

(Personality included.)

Want to learn how to craft emails that inspire action and engagement WITHOUT the “tried and true” (cough: patriarchal) norms we’ve all been taught?

I’m doing it, and I can show you how to do it, too.

(But sometimes, I also like to write about the books I’m reading, or the creative process, or the entrepreneurial experience, or why I hate Steve Jobs, or how I met my BFF. I’ll send you emails like that, too.)

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*Just kidding. It’s only an email list.

Interested in working together?