Can we stop ‘going forward’?

In reading and listening to news items, I find many people using the phrase ‘going forward’. It has become so overused that I find it grating to hear. It is often redundant but seems to be a more a rhetorical device, a filler, to end a sentence. For example, an analyst discussing financial news might say “It is not clear what the Fed will do going forward” when “It is not clear what the Fed will do” conveys the same sentiment. After all, ‘will do’ implies the future and besides, the Fed cannot go backwards anyway.

Other phrases that have become cliches are ‘perfect storm’ and ‘think outside the box’. Mercifully the latter seems to seems to be going out of vogue, probably because everyone is sick of hearing it so much and it is the kind of corporate jargon that managers like to inflict on their employees.

These are my personal pet peeves. My dislike of them is largely because of their overuse, not necessarily because there is something wrong with them. This article lists other ‘junk’ words and phrases that the author thinks people should try to avoid for various reasons.


  1. rrutis1 says

    I work with a lot of sales and management people on energy projects. They love, love, love to use that phrase…it does not improve my thinking of sales and management.

    My personal favorite(?) is “very unique”. It seem like the usage of this has increased a lot in the last 10 years or so. I wonder if usages like this are just (relatively) temporary and will disappear as language continues to evolve?

  2. tuatara says

    This is the first time I have heard the term “going forward” since… the last time I heard it used.
    I like the term “going forward” precisely three times less than anyone else.

  3. Holms says

    ‘Going forward’ is bad, but ‘as of right now’ is far worse. Both of them can usually be left unwritten without any change of meaning, as each is usually implicit, but ‘as of right now’ seems especially perverse with how much empty clutter it adds to a sentence. And if the speaker needs make the present tense specific, they can just say ‘currently’ or similar.

    Oh and ‘reached out to’ to mean ‘contacted’ can also die. Please.

  4. dangerousbeans says

    A previous workplace was very fond of “moving feast”. I still don’t know what they meant

  5. billseymour says

    dangerousbeans:  I think “moving feast” is a term that some religions use to denote holy days that depend on phases of the moon since they “move” relative to the Gregorian calendar..

  6. says

    Can we get rid of the word “utilize?” What’s the difference between “using” something and “utilizing” it? There isn’t any — they mean the same thing, so why bother with a three-syllable word when the older one-syllable word still works?

    I also think we should avoid saying “[N] times [less/smaller] than…” It’s very unclear. One should be saying “1/[N] as [much/big] as…” If that’s what is meant, of course.

    Oh, and “proactive?” What other kind of “active” is there? There’s “active” and “reactive.” “Proactive” is just redundant. “Aggressive” might be appropriate here.

  7. sonofrojblake says

    Proactive is the explicit opposite of reactive. I think that’s fair enough.

    We should just pick one out of”flammable” and”inflammable” and delete the other from existence.

  8. chigau (違う) says

    Weather forecasters almost always talk about “the overnight period”. Why?

  9. sonofrojblake says

    The one that’s really boiling my head at the moment is the word “compute”. In my mind, that’s a verb -- “does not compute”, “we can compute the orbit manually!”, and so on.

    Just lately, though, it seems to have become a noun, as in “if we’re going to train this AI to replace the President’s press secretary, we’re going to need more compute.”

    It seems like a (to me) appallingly lazy contraction of “computing power”, and I have no idea why it provokes the level of simmering rage in me every time I see it. Most other grammatical abominations common nowadays (e.g. people who use “affect” when they mean “effect” or vice versa, people who say “pacific” when they mean “specific”, and (although this one seems to be quite a noughties thing that is now dying away) people who use the word “so” at the beginning of EVERY FUCKING SENTENCE.

  10. sonofrojblake says

    … I didn’t closet that bracket or finish the though before I clicked “Post Comment”. Bugger.


    … ) don’t bother me that much, but “compute” in its modern context I find absolutely infuriating. It’s most odd.

  11. lanir says

    I don’t think I use any of these phrases personally except for “thinking outside the box.” I only use that one in reference to litter boxes, generally with the fond hope that any given cat I’m near does not start thinking outside the box.

  12. says

    As George Carlin said, “Something either flams or it doesn’t.”

    And the “So…” thing, I agree, especially when it is used to start a declarative sentence and the speaker raises their pitch at the end giving the impression of a question. For example, “So, I was going to the store the other day?” Are you telling me, or are you looking for confirmation because you’ve forgotten?

    Related question: How much daily speech is created by simply combining stock phrases with a few items unique to the situation?

  13. says

    I agree with some of these, but see subtle differences in others. Adding “going forward”, to me, means that the plans will be long term, and not just immediate. “Very unique” is inaccurate by denotation, but has the connotation of being unique enough to standout from a group. “Utilize” is more narrow than “use”, implying that the use is for the intended purpose, at least to me.

  14. billseymour says

    I sometimes begin a sentence with “so” as a one-syllable version of “because” when it explains something in the previous sentence.  I should probably connect the two with a semicolon, but I’m afraid of writing run-on sentences.

  15. billseymour says

    Oops, what I just posted is wrong.  My “so” replaces “because of [what I said in the previous sentence]” which explains the behavior I’m about to mention.

  16. cartomancer says

    “Going forward” is largely meaningless filler, but there are some contexts that cry out for meaningless filler. Sometimes bureaucratic impositions require you to fill space with verbiage, so these kinds of nothing-phrases are helpful in that regard.

    As for the flammable / inflammable confusion, I rather like that one, because it can be used to teach people that there are actually two in- prefixes from Latin, one meaning “not” (e.g. inauditus = not heard) the other meaning “into” (e.g. ingressus = having stepped into), and care should be taken to identify which is being used. I can imagine that if you don’t teach Latin for a living it might seem superfluous though.

    Obviously there are less/fewer and number/amount which so many people get wrong. But those are well documented already. As is who, whom and whose.

    Probably my biggest peeve, though, is when Americans write “a couple…” without the entirely necessary and required “of” to follow. It’s not “a couple days”, it’s a couple OF days. “Couple” is not a adjective, it’s a noun. Please cease doing this immediately.

  17. jrkrideau says

    My current peeve is “lived experience”. I would think it would be difficult to do much with one’s “dead experience”.

  18. Ridana says

    Catching up on what I missed:
    I agree that “reached out to” can be nuked from orbit. As can “be nuked from orbit.”
    “Active” is just doing something. “Reactive” is doing something in response to something. “Proactive” is doing something in anticipation of a situation you foresee occurring. Building a house on a flood plain is active. Rebuilding the house on stilts is reactive. Building a dam or levee before you build the house is proactive.
    I have never seen “compute” used that way before. I hope that remains ever true.
    “A Moveable Feast” was the title of Hemingway’s account of his time in 20s Paris. So maybe they’re trying to be literary, or it’s just a pretentious way of acknowledging that things may change without notice.
    The questioning inflection at the end of sentences is a feature or Australian and some New Zealand English. The American equivalent is “know what I mean’ or “knowwhamean?” I.e., a semi-useless verbal filler to make sure your listener is following along and not disagreeing.
    “Lived experience” is emphasized, as opposed to vicarious experience garnered from others and media. Its opposite is not “dead experience.” The testimonials of people who have experienced in their daily lives the situation under discussion is more valuable than the opinions of people who have not, but think they know all about it anyway because they have a friend. Know what I mean?

  19. Holms says

    After an irritating conversation today…

    Species pronounced ‘spee-sheez’ can fuck off. The middle c is an unvoiced sibilant, thank you very much.

    Similarly, processes, the plural of process, shall not be pronounced as ‘process-eez’. That last vowel is not ee, it is a schwa dammit! For some reason the people that do this have no problem pronouncing it the other way -- the proper way -- when it is in any other form, e.g. ‘the computer processes instructions’.

    pross-ess, proe-sess, please yourself. Just the last syllable -eez bugs me.

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