We writers—ahem, content creators—love precise word use. We tend to find ourselves irritated by the sloppy or silly and work hard to find, as the French would say, “le mot juste.”
To this end, I call your attention to a wonderful article from a few years back by Laura Hale Brockway. Entitled “32 alternatives to ‘a lot,’” it’s Ms. Brockway’s indictment of our tendency to use the term “a lot,” well, a lot when we want to describe an amount. A couple of her examples:
- “I try not to ask for a lot of help from the IT Department.”
- Our style guide does not appear to be used by a lot of people.” (Too true, alas.)
- There’s not a lot we can do about the CEO’s use of run-on sentences.
I must confess that I use “a lot” way too frequently. It is a convenient “grab ‘n go” expression, just waiting obligingly to be of service. But, as Ms. Brockway notes, “Its use in formal writing is lazy and colloquial. And as a quantifier, it’s meaningless. How much is ‘a lot,’ exactly?”
She suggests 32 alternatives, many of which I like a lot (woops). Consider, for example:
- A great deal
Check out her article for the rest of the list and, of course, give your word power muscles a work out by adding to it.
While I’m at it, I’d like to take dead aim at “awesome,” which has completely lost its meaning and, in my opinion, has become so annoying as to be worth banning from use ever again. Undoubtedly, you have candidates for your own list, and I’d like to see them.