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Swap Out These 7 Overused Writing Words for Clearer Writing

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

Whether you’re a brand new writer or an old pro, be on the lookout for specific, overused writing words in your content.

7 overused writing words with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #FreelanceWriting #amwriting #ContentWriting

These words are vague and nondescript. It’s tempting to use them because they’re an easy “out.” 

But they weaken your content. As you re-write, exchange them for different writing words that are vivid, colorful, imaginative, or even graphic.

Weak writing words fall into one of three categories.

  • Intensifiers (like literally, totally, really, very, absolutely)
  • Descriptors (like awesome, amazing, unbelievable)
  • Fillers (like basically, honestly) 

You’re better than that!

Keep your antennae up for these 7 overused writing words and swap them with a more specific, descriptive ones. You’ll strengthen your writing.

7 Overused Writing Words to Swap Out


Use this descriptor and your reader understands the negative connotation, but what kind of undesirability do you mean? 

Swap it out with: awful, corrupt, defective, disagreeable, evil, harmful, inadequate, injurious, low quality, naughty, poor, offensive, repulsive, unfavorable, unsatisfactory, wicked


We know it’s good to replace “good”: both Grammarly and Thesaurus Online identify “good” as one of the most-overused words. Do you mean a good child, a good steak, a good opportunity? Drill down and get specific by asking, “In what way is this ‘good’”?

Swap it out with: advantageous, accomplished, appropriate, competent, decent, fine, functional, helpful, high-quality, lovely, noble, pleasant, principled, reliable, satisfactory, serviceable, suitable, striking, upright, useful, virtuous, well-behaved


Avoid the trap of intensifying “good.” And be sure to specify the type of “greatness.” Are you describing size, number, fame, quality, or significance?

Swap it out with: distinguished, eminent, expert, Immense, magnificent, numerous, prodigious, proficient, profound, remarkable, superior, tremendous, vast


Beware of this filler that covers a wide spectrum. Important can mean curious … or life-altering. 

Swap it out with: central, critical, crucial, dire, essential, foundational, grave, indispensable, key, meaningful, necessary, notable, noteworthy, remarkable, serious, significant, substantial, valuable, vital, weighty


“Interesting” is another convenient filler to plug in when you don’t want to take a stand. Replace this word with one that places your description more clearly on the continuum. Does it pique your attention … or grip you with suspense? Are you amused … or exasperated?

Swap it out with: absorbing, appealing, bizarre, critical, crucial, curious, engaging, entertaining, fascinating, gripping, intriguing, major, odd, peculiar, powerful, significant, thought-provoking, unique, unusual

Lots, A Lot

This one is the classic intensifier. We know you mean more. How much?

Swap it out with: adequate, ample, abundant, heaps of, loads of, many, much, plenty, profuse, sufficient


I guess “nice” is a descriptor, but it’s hard to know what it means beyond “vanilla.”

Swap it out with: acceptable, amiable, charming, commendable, considerate, cordial, correct, courteous, delightful, divine, gracious, kind, lovely, pleasant, polite, respectable, satisfying, sympathetic, warm-hearted, well-mannered 

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