12 Words Never to Say

A few years ago there was a very sad court case in Florida where Casey Anthony was on trial charged with the first-degree murder of her 2-year old daughter, Caylee.

expert-witness-tnFor the most part, the line-up of experts testifying was impressive.

But some were un-impressive.

One of the defense experts was an award-winning forensic botanist who sounded unsure about part of her testimony.

Many of her answers included the words “possibly,” and “probably” and it “could have been” this or that.

These were not very definitive statements for jury members who were looking for answers.

There are 12 wishy-washy words that experts and marketers should never, ever use – either in letters, emails, in person or on the telephone.

12 Words to Never, Ever Use
By Ian Lurie

Using “wishy-washy” words gives the impression that you are not quite sure whether your information is correct or if your product is worth buying.

So why should the listener believe you?


“The technician will probably be there around four o’clock.”


If you needed a technician, wouldn’t you want to know a more definite time when the technician would arrive?

“Probably” is one of those wishy-washy words not to say.

More Wish-Washy (Weasel) Words

fairly (as in ‘fairly decent’)


kind of










On the other hand, there ARE effective words known as Positive Power Words you can use in emails, phone calls and direct mail letters.

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  1. Another phrase that I too often see in reply correspondence is the statement (usually given after a less-than-positive answer to my inquiry) is “I hope that helps.”……I absolutely hate that phrase as it says to me “I know you may not like my answer, but that’s the best I can do”…….ughhhhh…

    • “I hope that helps” could also mean s/he is not really sure of the answer. Either way, it leaves the listener with an uncomfortable feeling. Thanks, Chris, for posting your comment!

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