Shop this outfit. No, actually, please don’t.

Model with 'Shop this outfit' caption

Since when did ‘shop’ become a transitive verb?

There was a time when you ‘went shopping’, ‘did the shopping’ or ‘shopped for’ something. You didn’t shop anything – or anyone, unless you were some kind of criminal.

So I was surprised when I checked out Marks and Spencer’s nice new website recently to find several instructions to ‘Shop this outfit’. And it doesn’t stop there: there’s ‘Shop new arrivals’, ‘Shop more occasion outfits’ and ‘Shop our edit’ (how is that even a sentence?). In fact, it’s all over the shop (sorry). Continue reading


Buzzword of the year 2012: disruptive

Somewhere in the middle of 2012 I found myself asking ‘Since when did disruptive become a compliment?’ In my youth, being disruptive would be something you were sent to the head teacher for. And not so long ago it might have got you before a magistrate. But now it has become something to aspire to. Continue reading

I am a creative communicator. Or I used to be when the words meant something different.

Every year, LinkedIn release their list of the most over-used buzzwords in people’s profiles. And every year, journalists write about it. Partly because newsroom cuts mean that churnalism is getting more prevalent. And partly because writers can’t resist news (even if it’s spurious non-news) about words. Continue reading

‘Further action’ and other stock epithets

Notice: Further action may be taken on unauthorised carsI came across two interesting crimes against English on my travels. They don’t at first seem to have much in common, apart from a disregard for the essence of a coherent sentence. But when I thought about it I found there was a link.

In a ladies’ toilet in a Dublin office block I saw this notice: ‘We would kindly ask all users not to discard toilet tissue in the sanitary bins provided.’ The word ‘kindly’ seems a bit out of place here (although it’s nice that they are trying to be polite). That’s not the crime, though. Continue reading