Mormon Buzzwords

Or, words and phrases we don’t need.

Have you ever listened to a presentation or speech and realized that you are hearing so much jargon and hype that the words themselves have become meaningless?  In my field of work I’ve listened to so many sales pitches which promise to synergize a new paradigm that will enable us to leverage technology so we can hit the ground running at the end of the day that my eyes now automatically glaze over.  The words are used to obfuscate rather than enlighten, and their very presence indicates that the speaker isn’t serious about what he is doing.

When LDS people teach lessons or talk among themselves about their beliefs, we often use our own buzzwords.  My task here today is to give two of them a thorough beating.  Those words are 1)astray, and 2)inappropriate.

Let’s deal with inappropriate first.  The reason this word is useless is because it is employed to cover anything and everything.  First-degree murder is inappropriate, and so is leaning back on your chair and everything in between.   This word doesn’t describe anything that is objectively right or wrong, it just tells us that the speaker disapproves of the action to which it is applied.  It allows us to be lazy and not directly spell out why we object to something, we just need to say it is inappropriate.  Then we expect everybody to pay attention as if our pronouncement came down from Sinai on tablets.  And another thing.  I hate to say this, sisters, but the Relief Society is the biggest offender here.  Whatever it is that renders you genetically incapable of holding the priesthood must also impel you to say “that’s inappropriate!” when you see a kid with his shirttail out.  Let us cease and desist from this practice immediately.

When somebody goes astray, what does it mean?  Has he stopped attending church?  Quit paying tithing?  Given up on personal prayer?  Left the church entirely?  I have no idea and neither do you.  Our working definition of someone who has gone astray appears to be someone who disagrees with us.

I’d like to hear which buzzwords you think need to be granted emeritus status, and why.  Bonus points to anyone who can explain the origin and meaning of the idea that God would never allow the prophet to lead the church astray.


  1. Left Field says:

    I think we should retire “this day” as a synonym for “today.” I don’t know why. It just annoys me.

  2. Matt W. says:


    This post is totally inappropriate. I feel you’ve really gone astray here.

  3. Mark Brown says:

    Matt, exactly! I’m glad you stopped by this day to comment.

  4. I’m not sure if it’s the true origin, but the notion that the Lord will never permit the prophet to lead the church astray is spelled out in OD1. As to what exactly that is supposed to mean, your guess is as good as mine.

  5. #’s 2 & 3–lol.

    Ditto to #4’s “what exactly that is supposed to mean, your guess is as good as mine”.

    Another word we hear/use quite often but which I suspect lacks wide-ranging consensus is “sustain”. “Do you sustain your leaders?” can mean many different things to different people. Some may even take issue with the idea that you can truly sustain your leaders even if you disagree with them.

  6. Aaron Brown says:

    I do think “astray” in the phrase “the Lord will never permit the prophet to lead the church astray” is so vague that it permits individual Mormons to invest it with whatever meaning they want. And alas, we all know what the bulk of us want. Sigh.

    Mark, the problem you decry is an inevitable feature of language that we’ll never be able to completely resolve. Almost anything we say can be broken down and analyzed, and complaints about imprecise meanings can be legitimately leveled. But in the end, I think it’s worthwhile to identify the terms that our community most frequently uses in a vacuous or vague-to-the-point-of-meaningless way, which appears to be what you’re doing here. So, bravo to you sir!

  7. Reverence. The way we commonly use it has nothing to do with what it actually means, and it drives me batty. Folding arms and keeping little kids still has NOTHING whatsoever to do with real reverence.

    Oh. And moisture. Please… just stop with the praying for it.

  8. Opportunity

  9. I sustain the “reverence” vote, Tracy. Good one.

  10. I disagree. What better word than inappropriate can a parent use? Sure, I can sometimes substitute “rude” or “disrespectful.” But what about movies? “It has some objectionable material or themes that I don’t want you to be exposed to at this particular juncture in your life” is a little long.
    How about my daughter wanting her friend to come along to the father-child campout. I guess I could use “not ok” instead of “not appropriate.”

  11. “Opportunity” was a pet peeve of a favorite BYU professor of mine. Said we should more often pray and thank God for the ACTUAL blessing rather than the “opportunity”. So not that my sustaining vote matters, but I “sustain” that one too, bbell.

  12. Left Field (1) – Aragorn strenuously objects to your blacklisting of “this day.”

  13. Tracy (7) – Indeed, reverence is more than just quietly sitting. It’s thinking of Father above.

  14. Aaron Brown says:

    bbell, Clean Cut,

    Check out:

    Sounds like I need to reopen this series with a “Part 2”.

  15. Mark Brown says:


    My response is that telling kids something is inappropriate doesn’t help them develop their own moral reasoning. If the idea is for them to someday be able to make decisions on their own, we need to help them see why something is wrong. It also helps parents understand their own reactions. I might think a piece of music or a TV show is inappropriate, but my refusal to use that word pushes me to examine why I dislike it.

  16. even. “our prophet, even Thomas S. Monson…” it is an affectation meant, presumably, to emulate ga speak. horribly pretentious.

  17. #4
    I wouldn’t say “the prophet will not lead you astray” is spelled out in OD1, because it actually isn’t part of OD1, but an “explanatory” footnote added in the 1979 edition. I would really like to know more about the circumstances of Woodruff’s address. My impression was that he was trying to keep people from leaving the church because previous leaders (I think John Taylor) had said the church would never give polygamy up. If so, quoting that speech to provide that infamous dogmatic assertion seems a bit ironic, but I digress…(If someone can disabuse me of my erroneous history, please do)

    As for the OP, how about the pronouns, Thee, Thou, Thy, Thine, etc. It seems like nobody ever uses them correctly, and our people just end up sounding like idiots.

  18. I would like to nominate “key indicators.” It’s a relatively new buzzword–maybe many people haven’t heard it yet–but I think its use is growing, particularly in leadership meetings.

    When used to mean that some statistic has a reliable correlation with something else, then its fine. But I’ve already seen it mindlessly slapped on a handout in a way that didn’t make sense.

  19. Mark – I agree with “inappropriate” being a half-meaningless buzzword, but I don’t think it’s mal-usage is uniquely Mormon. In my midwestern upbringing, I heard it much more at school than anywhere else. Ms. Noesen’s words still send shivers down my spine.

    As for the general notion of buzzwords, one person’s buzzword or cliche is another person’s sincere, heartfelt expression. I like the general theme of the post, and I think it is good to reevalute what we mean when we say certain things. At the same time, I think we also have to be careful not to blanketly dismiss others’ thoughts because they were expressed in what we had pre-determined to be a gauche manner.

  20. #1 Left Field – that’s awesome that the first phrase you mentioned was “this day.” I was just having that same conversation during an visiting teaching appointment today. It’s not like we ever use “this day” in any other setting other than church. Our bishop uses it whenever he conducts. It is grating.

  21. Martine says:

    Micromanage. In YSA wards you often hear people bear testimony of their lives being ‘micromanaged’. I assume they enjoy this and are appreciative, but it just sounds obnoxious and intrusive.

  22. I vote for “supernal.” I only ever hear it in General Conference, and I keep a running tally, usually 3-4 mentions in a weekend. I second “opportunity” and “moisture” too.

  23. Mark B. says:


    As in “Brother Jones will give us the closing prayer.”

  24. Matt Rasmussen says:

    ‘preciate ya!

  25. Latter-day Guy says:

    Ditto to marta’s #16; appositive phrases beginning with “even” are anathema. May we also can “supernal,” please?

  26. Giving thanks for things “in our lives”– the Gospel, the Book of Mormon, the Church, the Savior.

  27. GatoraideMomma says:

    Ever notice how some of our church related word sound like prison talk? We release people, we’re in wards like prisons and mental hospitals, we excommunicate which is not prison talk, but close to execute them and get rid of them; we are to “endure to the end”…sounds like to the end of a sentence whether it’s life, a long meeting, or a calling.

  28. Left Field says:

    That’s the Hollywood Aragorn. The real Aragorn didn’t give that speech.

    “This day” is most annoying when it’s just used as filler. Usually it’s just a verbal period at the end of a sentence, and can be simply omitted. “We welcome you to sacrament meeting this day.” “We thank thee for the blessings we have received this day.” “The quick little fox jumps over the lazy brown dog this day.”

  29. I vote for wholesome, makes me think of Wonderbread.

  30. Worthy

  31. Mike S says:

    I’d vote for “beyond a shadow of a doubt”. Doubts are abstract nouns. Can they cast a shadow? And how can you be “beyond” a shadow? And in the context it is used, it raises a whole other can of worms.

  32. “Tender mercies” is one that bothers my wife and me. It’s always been in our scriptures, but nobody used it until Elder Bednar gave that talk.

    And what does it mean anyway? Anything can be a tender mercy, from a timely green light to your dog coming back after it ran away. It drives us crazy but we can’t put our finger on why.

    One of my pet peeves is “and that’s how I know that {insert principle} is true,” like “tithing” or “the Church.” On my mission we would use it to end a story that we thought would be cool but turns out to be really boring, much like how someone will end a story with “and then Steve stabbed him” or “and then I found fifty bucks.” My wife and I use this in-joke daily to break the monotony or save ourselves from disapproving looks at our inappropriate story.

    And that’s how I know that tithing is a true principle.

  33. Paul Swenson says:

    How about, “in the name of thy son, Jesus Christ,” when bearing one’s testimony?

  34. Kristine says:

    OK, we’ve just about reached the point in the thread when someone will come along and feel compelled to call us to repentance for judging our fellow-Saints so harshly, remind us that we’re all just trying to do our best, and possibly say how self-conscious and nervous they will be the next time they have to pray/speak/bear testimony, knowing that there may be evil snobs like the folks who hang out at BCC in their ward (disguised as nice people).

    There–saved you the trouble.

  35. #33, Paul, I agree with that one.

  36. Ted (32),
    Thank you for bringing up the phrase that bugs me more than most:

    On my mission/When I was a missionary/When I was on my mission

    This phrase is abused so obscenely by instructors in EQ who continually use anecdote after anecdote from their “best two years” in place of (supposedly existent) spiritual experiences from the decade-plus that has passed since their triumphal return home.

  37. all time is ‘choices’

  38. I sustain the motion to ban “opportunity,” as in someone getting up to bear their testimony and saying “I recently had the opportunity…” instead of just saying “I did…” Brevity, people!

    Along the lines of #36, I propose we also ban its even more irritating cousin: “On the mission…”

  39. When I think of Tender Mercies, I think of the film. Bednar totally poached from Horton Foote.

  40. Mark Brown says:

    Ann, totally. I guess that’s why I don’t mind now when people say it at church all the time. I heart Robert Duvall and Tess Harper.

  41. If we could ban all the Mormon substitutes for the good, old-fashioned cuss words, I would be happy. “Frickin'” and “fetch” are the worst ones, imo – but the list could turn this into the longest thread in the history of the Bloggernacle.

  42. “Nourish” can go away, not because it’s used incorrectly, but just because it’s overused.

    I also fully sustain the opportunity to micromanage use of the word “moisture” in our prayers. Please, heaven, let us have a bit MORE than just moisture this day as we enter the umpteenth year of drought in [your western state name here]. Heck, let’s go totally off the hook and ask for RAIN!

    And yeah, someone saying “In the name of thy son…” to close when they’ve been imparting their testimony to US in the congregation, heavily imbued with mission anecdotes all along the way. That can go away too. Poor sucker doesn’t know he’s supposed to KEEP BEING SPIRITUAL after his glorious return with honor and a host of parasites.

    I’m having way too much fun with this. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt I’ll be back later as others occur to me.

  43. Also “nourish and strengthen” as if the nourishing wasn’t enough. Of course, it’s probably mostly as a prayer of hope over refreshments (there’s another one) that have no business being associated with nourishment nor strength.

  44. Marjorie Conder says:

    I just came from a meeting where I learned we had a “volunteer opportunity”, at which point I was assigned to do something with no input or feedback from me. Let’s ban “volunteer” if it really isn’t–which it almost never is.

  45. JamesM says:


    Yes, we usually get “blessings” on account of adherence to a particular principle, but as a buzzword it drives me nuts.

  46. I want to ban most shortenings of longer words. I had a roommate who called our bishop “Bish” and it made me want to tear out my eardrums.

    Also, I’m not a fan of how the word “indeed” is used. Like, “We are indeed grateful for this day” and “Thomas S. Monson is indeed our prophet.” Seriously! What’s wrong with just being grateful for something? Or President Monson just being our prophet?

  47. All you people decrying “Tender Mercies” would get on a little better if you’d just pretend it was Roy Orbison’s voice instead. Mercy!

  48. We thank thee oh God for our prophet (basically, reciting hymns in prayer)…”even” Thomas S. Monson. It sounds like they’re trying to sound like someone they’re not: “Yeah, we’re grateful for our prophet. Even this guy.”

    Phrases that hurt my ears:

    “it hit me so hard”
    “I would be ungrateful if…”

  49. “I don’t tell them this enough . . .”

    Then tell them – not us.

  50. Bruce Rogers says:

    Post #4. Those who practice polygamy today say that “the Church was led astray” by Wilford Woodruff, but our leaders have told us that the Lord will not allow that. I am willing to accept that.

  51. Latter-day Guy says:
  52. Oh, people already got to the “even” one that I wanted to submit.

    I like supernal. I used it the other day! D’oh!

  53. The two that drive me crazy are these: the temple ‘in our midst’ Can’t they just say nearby? Does it HAVE to be in our midst? The other is the opportunity to ‘sit at the feet’ of the prophets during general conference, or if some leader came to speak. Every time I hear those I want to bang my head against a wall.

  54. leisurelyviking says:

    Some of my personal pet peeves are “with every fiber of my being” and “I don’t know where I’d be without the church.” The first is so overused it doesn’t seem meaningful anymore. The second makes me think the person either hasn’t thought much about the church’s effect on their actions, or else they’re really morally depraved and require constant reminders and threats of a less happy afterlife to keep them from doing terrible things.

  55. Wesley Powell says:

    “…that we might be able to…”
    I hear this line in Sacrament Meeting prayers 5 or 6 or more times with some people. Once you focus on it, it’s hard not to crack up.

  56. Ditto #32, if I hear any more tender mercies, it will be a tender mercy if I don’t vomit. It was a tender mercy that you brought it up, helping me see that the Lord is mindful of my tender annoyance at the overuse of the term “tender mercies.”

    Also, what’s up with “the Spirit was so strong”?

    What the crap is that supposed to mean, anyway? If I apply it to myself I guess I could say that “I am so strong” in this comment thread right now — meaning that I am here.

    Or are we meant to understand that he’s ripped? Or rather, that he was… it seems to imply that he hasn’t been exercising his spiritual muscles. Definitely inappropriate.

    Also, let “return missionary” henceforth be banished. It makes it sound like the person in question was sent home early for being defective… you know, a return. Put the ever-lovin’ -ed on the end for all of our sakes.

  57. Peter LLC says:

    I simply cannot abide the use of Latin at church, e.g., “inter alia,” “per se” and “ipso facto” or French à la “adroit,” “chapeau” or “gaffe.”

  58. I would like to thank you for posting this and I would like to suggest you add something else to the use of inappropriate buzzwords that might lead us astray. I would like to nominate “I/We would like to”

    But I won’t, because that would be too committal of me. So I’ll just leave it at I would like to…

  59. Gavin P says:


    When used at church, it makes my hair stand on end.

    “The media tries to tell us…” “There are so many awful messages in the media…”

    Hate to break it to you but MoTab is media. The book we are all reading from is also a form of media. I guess we could get rid off all television, radio, books, etc. but then what would I do with all my time?

  60. The Right Trousers says:

    I’d like to make a distinction. There are vacuous words and phrases, and as a sub-category of those, there are *filler* words and phrases. I just can’t get worked up about the latter sort.

    In general, we Saints are not professional public speakers. Most of us do not practice finding the most brief and precise ways to say things. In all of our extemporaneous settings – and there are a LOT – we are too concerned about what we are saying or are going to say to spend time making it efficient.

    Most people look down on “um,” “uh,” and pauses in speech. So what can you do if your brain hasn’t caught up with your mouth yet? Say “moisture” instead of “rain,” or “I’m appreciative of” instead of “thank you for,” or “opportunity to,” “even,” or “indeed” instead of nothing. Filler words and phrases serve a purpose among amateur speakers: they keep us from looking slow-witted.

  61. The Right Trousers says:

    Contradicting myself slightly, I second “moisture” for most annoying filler. I think we should say “precipitation” instead, which sounds smarter and has three more syllables.

    I also second “nourish and strengthen,” and especially the long form: “nourish and strengthen our bodies and do us the good that we need.” It should be “supply our hearts, minds and auxiliary organs with vital nutrients and energy, that our spirits may inhabit a well-functioning tabernacle of clay.”

    I also think “not poison us” is often appropriate.

  62. Thomas Parkin says:

    I’m grateful that we have oracles to counsel us on when it is inappropriate not to wear nylons, and such. I know with every fiber of my being that we will be saying some of these things in the highest kingdom, even the Celestial Kingdom. If you fail to say them you might find yourself standing out in some fricken moisture that isn’t as wholesome as you might have wished.

    (I really get a shiver, not in a good way, when I hear how some missionaries say “Jesus Christ” lately. As if the words are a tool for some kind of conjuring. Honestly gives me the creeps a little.)

  63. Latter-day Guy says:

    “I also think “not poison us” is often appropriate.”

    Particularly at BSA activities.

  64. “Inappropriate” is an American buzzword, not a Mormon one. Last year Edward Skideslski wrote a rather scathing attack on our use of the word for Prospect. You can read that piece <a href="”>here.

  65. Oops, it appears I linked that badly. I’ll just provide the url:

  66. Thomas – you’re funny!!!

  67. Thomas Parkin says:

    Thanks, meems. I’ll try to be pleased rather than proud. I’m praying that I can take what I learn here on BCC and use it in my everyday life. ~

  68. “I’m eternally grateful” – Used when bearing a testimony!

  69. Benjamin says:

    While not exactly a buzz word, I still struggle to understand the Mormon love affair with the middle initial.

    I’ll also voice my agreement with ditching “When I was on my mission….” As soon as I hear that phrase I stop listening. It annoys me so much that I almost never talk about my own experiences as a missionary, and if I do feel compelled to say anything, I’ll talk about something that happened to me when I lived in Kyiv.

  70. Nameless says:

    These are phrases I guess rather than single words but I am tired of “bless her heart”, as in “Her casserole was inedible, bless her heart.” Also I hate it when someone announces that “The priesthood will now fold and stack the chairs.” This could be immediately following a meeting where priesthood is defined as “the power to act in God’s name.”

  71. oudenos says:

    I really love “a whole nother,” I even heard a world famous professor say it recently.

    Also, the construction “I would be remiss if….” Gag.

    Edify, in all of its forms.

    And thusly. Thusly is rad.

  72. 70# — What? God doesn’t think the chairs need to be stacked? I suppose He *could* do it Himself, but that’s why He has priesthood holders for, right?

  73. It's Not Me says:

    Some of this is funny, but I have to say that a few of you appear to be a bit neurotic about your pet peeves.

  74. Mark B. says:


    Seventy-one comments and nobody’s blasted noble? Usually only in prayers in General Conference, but I can hear it coming a mile away. So I can cringe in anticipation.

    I’m just waiting for it to show up in the sustaining of church officers: “we sustain Thomas S. Monson as … with Henry B. Eyring as noble first counselor ….”

  75. For me, the Mormon (mis-)use of “even” to introduce an appositive phrase is the one that really must go, e.g. “our beloved prophet, even Thomas S. Monson”.

    It is difficult enough to figure out exactly why some General Authorities use it to put a flourish on the Church President’s position during General Conference prayers or talks but it is much more perplexing when it shows up in regular old opening and closing prayers or language in weekly Church meetings or Sacrament Meetings.

  76. Dave P. says:

    Not only the idea that “God would never allow the prophet to lead the people astray,” but how about other, similar things like the idea that general authorities are all automatically an elite class that can do no wrong? Or what about the idea that the Quorom of the Twelve are all-knowing scholars of the scriptures and have all the answers? Or even the myth, yes, MYTH that the church is perfect?

    “The church is perfect, but the members aren’t,” is an entire phrase that needs to be abolished. The gospel is perfect, but the church and gospel are not one and the same. As fas as I know, the church is still under condemnation for its treating lightly of the Book of Mormon.

  77. Last Lemming says:

    “The world”–the implication being “everyone but us,” when it actually means “a subset of ‘everyone but us’, plus a fair number of us, too.”

  78. #50–Bruce: “Those who practice polygamy today say that “the Church was led astray” by Wilford Woodruff, but our leaders have told us that the Lord will not allow that. I am willing to accept that.”

    The problem is the circular reasoning. “Our leaders said X and I know it’s true because our leaders said so”. Moreover, it doesn’t get us any closer to consensus as to what is meant by “astray”. Does it mean that the Church can do no wrong? Or perhaps that the Church won’t be allowed to unravel or be completely ruined by the actions of a prophet–even if he is infallible, etc?

  79. Dave P (76)–I’d like to think that that myth is not as ubiquitous as you might think. Regardless, it’s always good to get the message out that we have a perfect Savior, not a perfect Church.

  80. I have to admit, I’m lost on the “inappropriate” thing—I haven’t heard it much, if at all, at church.

    And Benjamin (69),
    In all three fields I’ve worked in, nearly everybody uses their middle initial on business cards, websites, and publications. The weird Mormon thing is using a first initial, followed by middle and last names.

  81. re # 80, the strange thing about Mormon use of the middle initial is how it is used in speech and not just writing. This makes things seem overly formal. There is only one Dallin Oaks so there is no need to differentiate him by saying Dallin H. Oaks when introducing him in General Conference or when writing about him.

    The practice might have started when there was a need to differentiate references to Joseph F. Smith from references to Joseph Smith.

    But it rings of a needless and in some ways distancing formality to feel obligated to say a General Authority’s middle initial every time you speak of him, whether in Sunday School class or a talk or conversation with friends over dinner.

  82. Benjamin says:

    Sam, it’s interesting you say that nearly everyone uses their middle initial in your fields. Where I work, almost nobody does (although it seems to be more common among the PhDs).

    What actually bothers me more is when I’m asked to put together the Officers Sustaining form for Ward Conference and I get cross eyed looks when I explain that I put down everyone’s preferred name and didn’t just automatically put down their first name, middle initial, and last name.

  83. I would be happy to see the phrase “please bless that…” disappear. I am pretty certain that it is missing several key grammatical elements.


    I use my middle initial for no other reason than all of the children in my family have the same initials, and we’ve also proudly included the T. Well, except for my oldest brother, who goes by his middle name (like my dad does), and therefore includes the A, instead (at least professionally).

  84. SLO Sapo says:

    Not exactly a buzzword, but using “recommend” as a noun just doesn’t sound right.

  85. Mark B. says:

    I heard that Alfred Prufrock used to go by first name initial, middle name, last name. What a prig!

  86. Left Field says:

    How about “When I was living in Utah…”

    Missionaries who come to Louisiana and thank the Lord for the moisture we have just received should be sent back to whatever desert they came from. The Lord blesses us with more moisture around here than we can use, thanks. And please don’t thank the Lord for the oil either.

    Middle initials are pretty standard in my field. Probably because “J. T. Anderson” in the Literature Cited is much more likely to be identified with the right person than is “J. Anderson.” I’m working on a publication now where the instructions to authors requires everyone mentioned in the Acknowledgments to be identified full first name and middle initial.

  87. Collin says:

    A friend of mine used to replace the phrase “the world” with “the Jews” every time he heard it in church to point out how ridiculous the phrase was.

  88. Yeah, john f., using the middle initial in speaking is the strange part. But in writing? Pretty standard.

  89. “volunteer opportunity” is code for “guilted into”

  90. When I started going to BYU as a convert of the church for barely a year, I remember being so confused by being bombarded with the term “trials.” Trials meant any bump in the road — bad grades, breakups, hangnails. And EVERYone was thankful for them.

  91. I’m glad to see “moisture”, “Thy son” when not in prayers, and “able to” pointed out here.

    The way “immorality” is used in the church has long bugged me. And I could go a while without hearing “sublime” in a conference talk again.

    And what about “succor”? How many visitors/investigators (now there’s another one)/new members must be wondering why the Lord wants to sucker us?

    I mentioned this in a recent post which deals with this topic indirectly:

  92. Thomas Parkin says:

    Dallin is the kind of name you think of and think you’re the only person thinking of it only later to discover that it was the most popular name for boys that year. Dallin’s parents seem to have gotten away with it – but I guarantee that if I were to name my son Dallin, everyone else would, too. I suppose one ought to feel happy with a name whether or not everyone else also has it. It also has that mysterious relation of particular consonants to particular vowels that makes it so masculine. Perhaps someone can explain this to me. ‘Track’ also has this. But ‘Willow’ doesn’t. Well, if its a boy will name him Muck; if it’s a girl, Emily. ~

    re: the world. Good one, Collin.

  93. Mike RM says:

    One I’ve noticed among other Christians that I haven’t noticed among Mormons is the word “just” used in prayers. For example, “I just want to thank you.”

  94. Mathew says:

    I associate the word “moisture” with old men in brown suits and, possibly, bolo ties. One of them would appear at the beginning or end of meetings, bow his head so that the strict part in hair held in place with Brylcreem was visible, and launch into a long prayer about atoning blood, crops (where “moisture” was usually filed as a sub-set), live stock, protection, families and a list of specific individuals who were known to be suffering in some way. Those are pleasant memories for me and likely for that reason I am tickled by the anachronistic usage of “moisture” in prayer.

  95. Yeah, in the academic world, the initials don’t bother me at all because it makes it a lot easier to track down the right author / source or whatever. The more ways to distinguish between common names the better.

    But in the GA realm, we definitely go overboard. Sometimes I just leave out the initials in church when teaching a lesson to watch everyone involuntarily cringe.

  96. 70 – just a clarification, “bless her/his/your heart” after an insult is also a Southern thing, unassociated with the church.

  97. Latter-day Guy says:

    “And what about “succor”? How many visitors/investigators (now there’s another one)/new members must be wondering why the Lord wants to sucker us?”

    Oh it could be far worse… like if the bible were printed long enough ago to use the “long s” symbol. (See here. The fun begins at 26:40.)

  98. So, I understand the whole aversion to “When I was on my mission,” and all — it causes me a fair amount of irritation to — but sometimes it just depends on how it’s said. It bothers me the most when its couched in a sanctimonious tone, as if being forced into admitting that, yes, the speaker did serve an “honorable full-time mission” (and finished in the office to boot), but acknowledging that fact must be said with downcast eyes, as if speaking it publicly is an offense to their abject humility.

    Then there are people like me who have been spectacular spiritual failures since their mission, so we have nothing else to fall back on when looking for a spiritual story. I still try to circumlocute the preamble though, just for the sake of good form.

  99. rick h says:

    #5 – Sustain is a great one. A couple of years ago I was asked to speak on “sustaining church leaders.” I ended up quoting extensively from a talk by Elder Nelson (I think) about what to do when you disagree with your leaders. I’m not sure if I quite defined it, though.

  100. rick h says:

    And does it seem a bit odd that addresses by GAs are always “talks” rather than “speeches?”

  101. 101 RicK H- I agree “talk” is so boring. I like “discourse” It sounds dignified and intelligent.

  102. #100 … we definately don’t want to call them ‘sermons’ though since that for some reason is a heretical term in mormon culture it seems

  103. Rick, don’t you mean Elder “Neltsen”?

  104. Latter-day Guy says:

    102, What about “homily”?

  105. B. Russ says:

    Oooh Oooh, can I nominate “Exhort” and it’s moron brother “Challenge”.
    The Gospel gives me enough challenges by itself, I don’t need any from you, thank you very much.

    Also, I say we keep moisture. It always makes me think of mother nature getting hot n’ heavy with a guy she likes. I get to laugh to myself every prayer – every springtime.

  106. #97: I hadn’t even thought of that! Oh what fun indeed.

  107. “The Gospel gives me enough challenges by itself, I don’t need any from you, thank you very much.”

    lol. amen.

  108. B. Russ says:

    Its not a buzzword or buzzphrase, but along very similar lines, preambles to talks:

    Yes, we know that the bishop called you four days ago.
    We already know that you knew what he was calling about.
    We know you were upset with the poor man for asking you to talk.
    No, no, this really is a great story, please keep going. It really will make your talk better to tell us how much you didn’t want to give it, how unprepared you are, etc. Fascinating stuff. Really.

    Also, I don’t need you to tell me what you’re talking about today, your talk should probably be pretty self-explanatory. Go ahead, just jump right in.

    One last thought, jokes can be good, but only if they’re good jokes.

  109. I’m reminded of a jackass of a companion I had while waiting for a visa in the Riverside, CA mission, Elder Felt. He was a typical of many a 20-year-old entrusted with his first taste of power who liked to pull petty rank and enjoyed educating his greenie about how to think like a missionary. One day I said I would try to do something he thought was important whereupon he threw a piece of paper on the ground and told me to “try” to pick it up. As I reached down he stopped me short and said I couldn’t pick it up as I had only committed to “trying”, not actually doing. Stunned into silence by the complete innanity of it all I just looked at him giving him the chance to grandly direct me to “Now, “strive” to pick it up.”

    I received my visa some time after and never saw him again (although I heard he later became an MP which I take as a testament to his bad character). One of the few regrets I have in life is that I didn’t strive to punch Elder Felt in the nuts when he stopped me as I reached down to pick up that piece of paper.

    So I nominate “strive” to the list.

  110. B. Russ says:

    Do or Do Not, there is no strive.

  111. Yoda should have been punched in the balls too.

  112. Adventure, Balls, a Jedi has not these things.

  113. Mathew, it may not really fit the post, but I love your story. Some things are so funny they’ve simply got to be real life.

  114. John Taber says:

    “We would like to welcome President J. Jonah Jameson who is seated on the stand. President Jameson presides at this meeting and has asked that I, Brother Parker, conduct.”

    Of course Pres. Jameson is on the stand – he’s the stake president. This whole phrasing has permeated stake conferences here, and is reaching into sacrament meetings.

  115. #114–don’t you know that’s just the unwritten order of things? :)

  116. Wes Brown says:

    Please, stop using the term “on fire” to describe any emotion (missionaries especially). It belongs in 1990s NBA Jam jargon.

    Also, the phrase “every fiber of my being” should be bleeped every time it’s used. Just say “me”.

  117. B. Russ says:

    Wes Brown has the ball, boomshakalaka, he’s on fire!

  118. …And President Jameson takes the opportunity to express the gratitude of every fiber of his being for the moisture we’ve received… He’s striving to exhort us to live up to the challenges he’s extended. He’s on fire!

  119. I have to admit that it is nice living in Seattle where I don’t have to listen to old people praying for “moisture.” “Thy Son” used not in prayers is a biggie.
    However, as a mother of a son with a language disorder, I have to listen to him pause before speaking and use the filler words “in fact” at the beginning of so many sentences. The research I’ve done says that it really is a compensating strategy to give his brain time to send messages since oral motor planning is an issue.
    So, by all means don’t worry about me. I don’t ever say nourish and strength or shadow of a doubt, so I’m sure you this conversation won’t intimidate me. However, when someone reads out loud you really never know if they’ve spent decades overcoming dyslexia. When someone speaks you also don’t know how much time their mother has invested in making them practice so their speech and language sounds almost normal.
    How’s that for a call to repentance. Too harsh? Not harsh enough?

  120. #56 – “What the crap” is on my list, as well. Way high up on the list.

  121. “Also, I say we keep moisture. It always makes me think of mother nature getting hot n’ heavy with a guy she likes. I get to laugh to myself every prayer – every springtime.”

    *desperately trying to scrub this from my brain*

  122. re #119 – Kristine, where are you when we need an evaluation?

  123. Wesley Powell says:

    I’ve got to nominate “low hanging fruit”, that seems to be the hot one in my area right now.

    All I can think of is “Does your fruit hang low, does it wobble to and fro…”

  124. jks, that reminds me that we’ve got to have you guys over sometime for dinner.

  125. #123 – never mind. I’ll wait for gst to address that one.

  126. “And does it seem a bit odd that addresses by GAs are always “talks” rather than “speeches?””

    In sacrament meeting, they’re more like book reports.

  127. Late to the party, but my nominations for actual buzzwords are:

    – Overarching
    – 3 Fold
    – Corrilation

  128. “In sacrament meeting, they’re more like book reports”

    Touché! Good one. :)

  129. Wes Brown says:

    I may be asking too much, but it would be nice to hear someone just “share a personal story and belief” instead of “bare a tesimony”.

  130. Kristine says:


    Not too harsh. I’m right there with you. Only my son tends to repeat random phrases rather than standard filler phrases. And I took him to speech therapy weekly for a year so that he could learn to say “r’s” and the therapist finally gave up–he can do it, but won’t be bothered because he doesn’t care what he sounds like. (Then again, we live in Massachusetts, so “r” is kind of optional).

    I kind of love having our own dialect, even if I rarely speak it myself.

  131. rick h says:

    Kristine, people used to ask if my then-7-year-old son had ever lived in Boston because that’s what his “r’s” sounded like.

  132. The first time I said, without thinking, “Mosiur” instead of “Mosiah” I knew I had been in Boston too long.

  133. Kristine says:


  134. CS Eric says:

    I think it is so special that nobody has mentioned my favorite phrase. And bless your hearts, my second favorite has only been listed once.

  135. Mai Li says:

    Hearing someone talk about how strong the spirit is has the same effect on me that someone running their fingers down a chalkboard has.

  136. B. Russ says:

    135 Why do you hate the spirit? Are you bad?

  137. Even the Prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, was never just “the prophet.” He was always “our beloved prophet.” Is even Thomas S. Monson also beloved? I rarely hear churchspeak these days, so I wonder how it’s changed in the last 18 months.

    Jesus the Christ. Or better yet, even Jesus, the Christ.

  138. #78

    Using fundamentalism to combat Fundamentalism = bad idea.
    Quoting speeches without context= bad idea

  139. Mark B. says:

    We’d like to recognize the presence of _______.

    I don’t know if I’d recognize my own presence, whatever it is. But there were a whole lot of other folks who seemed to know it when they saw it.

  140. TyInTheSky says:

    “In the world but not of the world.” A load of crap. Ashes-to-ashes-and-dust-to-dust notwithstanding, we’re all of the world. Last I checked, every atomic particle in me came from the world and I certainly live in it, so why can’t we just say, “don’t be bad because others are”? Perhaps we could say, “don’t use buzzwords just because others do”?

  141. Is it “bare” a testimony or “bear” a testimony?

    If it’s bare, it makes me think of a flasher. If it’s bear, I think of holding something precious, like the ring-bearer at a wedding. But then it makes no sense to say “I’d like to bear my testimony,” because you already are. It makes more sense to say “I bear a testimony.”

    Anyway, I hate the phrase. If anything, I’d say I will “share” my testimony.

  142. “Serving others” probably should be a positive phrase, but it feels self-righteous to me because I feel like we often use it to put ourselves above those we are serving…Like “look at me how righteous I am, this “other” person needs my help…” The word “others” just makes me think of distant mysterious people like “the others” on “Lost.” I’d rather feel like I’m helping my friend who has a name, than serving an “other.”

  143. Mark B. says:

    Sharing is for kiddies with toys in the sand box. I have to reach for the airsickness bag every time I hear someone wanting to “share” a testimony.

    Be bold! Declare, bear witness. Say “I believe!” Or “I hope to believe.” But if you want to share something, head for the sandbox.

  144. Mark B. says:

    Oh, you may bear witness if you want. But don’t bare it, unless you’re thinking of Fletch. And I don’t want to be there.

  145. “Jesus the Christ. Or better yet, even Jesus, the Christ.”

    Actually, I prefer that over Jesus Christ, since that phrase loses sight of the fact that Christ is his title, not his last name. Jesus the Messiah.

  146. Left Field says:

    “Bear” is a perfectly appropriate verb with reference to testimony.

    From Merriam-Webster:
    “to give as testimony “

  147. Mark, I really like your nominations in the post. Thanks everyone who’s given me a good chuckle.

    Emily #141, I like the idea of saying “I’d like to flash my testimony.”

    It’s already come up a few times, but “the world” is one that I hate, I think because it shows up a lot both in General Conference and in (my) local meetings. The world is not a monolith, and it doesn’t send wholly evil messages.

  148. reader Rachel says:

    I’m not sure what I’m going to say, but the spirit was so strong, I just couldn’t sit back there any more without getting up (and repeating stock phrases, rambling on in an unprepared, incoherent and entirely generic way). Now where are the tissues?

  149. #61 & 62
    You guys are my friends. I cried from laughing.

    Emily in #141 – I’ve actually had the same question. I agree that “bare” is right out. “Bear” makes more sense, but I still have been unsure of the phrase “I’d like to bear my testimony” . It just made me think of someone burdened by their knowledge of the truth.

    But then, I googled “bear” and found one definition I really like: To produce/yield/come to fruition (like plants) and To offer; render. When I think of bearing a testimony in that sense–offering it up as a product of my spiritual knowledge–then I kind of dig it.

  150. I agree that we should be careful in judging the way folks speak.

    Then again, I’m often surprised at how poorly many LDS folks present themselves when speaking in public. I always thought that callings and missions and prayers and talks (i.e. sermons) would make us much more eloquent than other groups without those experiences. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. In fact, sometimes I think talking in church makes people stupider (yes, that was intentional).

  151. It was mentioned earlier, only briefly, about the person conducting the meeting thanking “The Priesthood.”

    “We would like to thank THE PRIESTHOOD for the reverent manner in administering the Sacrament.”

    As though The Priesthood were some disembodied power instead of thanking the actual “Brethren of the Priesthood” or “members of the Aaronic Priesthood quorums”

  152. Persephile says:

    The phrase “must needs” is a particular bugbear. Yes, it’s scriptural, but the creep into conference-speak happens when it’s used to make things sound… well, more holy and Mormonish.

  153. Mark B. – “Be bold! Declare, bear witness. Say “I believe!” Or “I hope to believe.” But if you want to share something, head for the sandbox.” – YES!

    Along these lines I’d like to find a new word for “testimony” because it’s definition is warped in LDS culture. It now seems to mean ‘a rambling biography, a list of trials and illnesses, coupled with a declarative statement of self-righteousness’.

    I went to high school in Utah so throughout my adult I’ve worked on banishing many of these words from my vocabulary – thanks for making the list longer.

  154. Uh oh. You happened to pick my favourite thing to be irritated about. Ready? *clears throat*

    -“I’m so grateful”

    -“I always learn more as I prepare these talks/lessons”

    -“I feel so unworthy”

    -“I was asked to speak on [topic] so I looked up [topic] in the dictionary”

    -“investigator” Found this one insulting when I was LEARNING ABOUT the church for the first time. I was like, “Investigating? Um. Well, is there something you’re hiding?

    -I second “even” as in “even the Lord Jesus Christ”. People say that and have no idea what the heck they’re saying. And actually, it’s usually, “even Christ Jesus”. Just to be original? Jazz it up a bit? Oh, just go get a tattoo.

    -“key” For some reason, this drives me insane and has been driving me insane ever since Oprah circa 1993. It seems to me that she started this and it’s just become common syntax such that no one questions it. Maybe people really are using it correctly and I only just noticed it in 1993 because before that, well, I was a child. But it seems to me that something should be “THE key” to something else, not just “key”. “And it’s really key that the movies not be inappropriate.” Shouldn’t it be “the key” followed by “to” followed by whatever it’s the key to?

    -Totally agree about the middle initial thing. One of the first things I noticed. Just another sign of the excessive formality in the church.

    -How about the use of Brother and Sister? I’m so over it. It’s creepy and just weird when *I* refer to myself as Natasha and the person I’m talking to calls me “Sister”. I don’t like kids calling me Sister. I only use it for flirting purposes, to tell you the truth.

    -“testimony”! “Witness” is also obnoxious. I haven’t found any better substitutes, though. How about “I’m going to say something and I want you to know that I really, really meeeean it.”?

    -“home/visit teach” as in “I’m off to home teach the Carters”. This just sounds stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid. And that we even have a difference between home teaching and visiting teaching. WHY?

    -“Young Mens and Young Womens” That’s grammatically incorrect. Or is it “Young Mens’ and Young Womens'” I think it is. But their what? Their meeting? Okay, how about just calling it “youth group night”?

    -“amazing” This is just overused by anyone. “This cookie is amazing.” Actually, it’s really just butter and eggs and flour and sugar.

    My favourite comments here were 56, 57, 58 and 61. (Sorry, 59 and 60.)

    41- Ray, I find substitute swears so stupid that they’re funny. Add a “Frick!” expletive in and you’ve got comedy. Didn’t you watch Scrubs back when it was good? A friend used to say “flippin’ ‘eck” (Translation: “flipping heck” in a British accent) and I thought it was very adorable. Then again, I also found her very adorable.

  155. And acronyms. All of them.

  156. (You know, you should really have an “edit” feature on this blog that runs out after five minutes.)

  157. California Condor says:


    I agree with you about Mormons looking up a word like “faith” or “hope” in a dictionary for a talk. We all know what those words mean so it’s a waste of time to say their definitions.

    Since most people have middle names, in a way I think they are mundane. It would be stylish not to have one.

    However, I like acronyms. They work.

    @Mark Brown

    I think buzzwords–including “astray” and “inappropriate”– are just fine.

  158. California Condor says:

    Also, a lot of Mormon talks start out with a 5 minute story about the speaker being asked to give the talk. And not wanting to give the talk. And about advice to hide from the bishopric. That shtick is so overdone.

  159. Can we also stop “Thanking the priesthood for reverently passing the sacrament”

    WTF? What else are those young boys going to do? Treat the passing like a football game? Toss the trays back and forth?

  160. Kristine says:

    MMW–maybe you don’t have a 12-year-old. The bishopric may not be sincerely grateful that none of the things you suggest have happened, but I am always breathing a huge sigh of relief when my son sits down with us!

  161. Kristine – I adore your comments! No – I don’t have a 12 year old. This entire post has had me laughing my guts out. … Like…they’re a mess all over the floor. Oh how I need my BCC.

  162. GatoraideMomma says:

    Did anyone mention the phras: “Love the sinner, but hate the sin?” Really, who actually loves someone who is doing a SIN you despise?
    I actually think “inappropriate” can be used very effectively. To me it means whatever you, my kids, etc., is doing right now or is thinking of doing or wearing, or saying, or taking, or giving, etc., won’t really fit in or work out comfortably with the circumstances surrounding it. Like son is planning to wear a white tee-shirt and torn jeans to formal wedding reception, or bragging about your acceptance to BYU around someone who can’t go to college for whatever reason, etc.

  163. GatoraideMomma:

    Um, me. I have loved a lot of people who have sinned in ways I despised. I had a friend who had molested his grandchildren, one of whom I dated. He wasn’t still sinning but he was still receiving therapy to prevent further sinning, so that suggests to me that he still kinda wanted to molest kids. That one was a harder one but because I found out about his sins after getting to know and loving him, it changed everything for me.

    Separating the sin from the person seems fairly easy to me. Because, you see, I sin, too.

  164. rjamesh says:

    It’s been a long time since I laughed this hard. I rarely post here but had to this time………Anyway, how about this?

    “We thank thee for the refreshments that have been provided this night. We also give thanks for those who, while clearly lacking any clue concerning why most of us are so unhealthy, took the time to prepare these little goodies. We don’t in any way anticipate being nourished by this mess that is completely devoid of any nutritional value. We only ask that we might live another day. In the name……..”

  165. 154- Key is an adjective as well as a noun and a verb:

  166. I’ll give it one more try. It stripped out the brackets in the address:
    key is an adjective

  167. It’s okay, Shawn, I figured out the link. :-)

    Well, chalk it up to stylistic differences of opinion. Oprah and others want to use the word “key” as an adjective and I beg you to slap me upside the head if I ever do. It just sounds yucky, to be technical.

  168. Mark D. says:

    There is a bit of a difference between saying, for example, “This is a key doctrine” and “This is key”. The latter makes my ears hurt.

  169. Thank you, Mark!

    Can I buy you a chocolate milk?

  170. I couldn’t read this without thinking about evolving language and monkeys and copying the alpha male in the group.

    LOL. I spend a lot of time in corporate America, and I see this stuff all the time. It is absolutely connected to male social hierarchies.

    However, the particular construction mentioned in this post is the special category I call pompous pseudoarchaic. It’s designed to add gravitas to any utterance. It’s the voice of God in the filmstrip; however, for the life of me, I can’t figure out what what makes us think that the Almighty, who created heaven and earth, doesn’t know how to use contractions.

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