Why You Should Avoid Waffle Words

The word “waffle can have bad connotations. It brings to mind a breakfast food with toppings rich in waffle topped with a pat of butter flavor and calories and the inability to decide. In British culture, it can mean that you’re rambling without saying anything meaningful. I’ve waffled over waffles, but eating these tasty, toasty, ironed creations regularly tends to expand the waistline.

You are what you eat, and your word choices reflect who you are. (Just don’t eat your words.) “Waffle words” weaken your writing; they’re timid, afraid to commit, and can make you look the same way. These are the words you should remove to strengthen your writing, and why:


1. Well — As a transitional word, it lacks substance.

Example: I’ve added more info about the new heating system we want to buy to the proposal. Well, let me know your opinion of it.
Revised: I’ve added more info about the new heating system we want to buy to the proposal. What do you think of it?

2. So — It’s one of “well”‘s cousins. If you can remove a word without affecting the overall meaning of a sentence, it’s not necessary.

Example: So, we should meet again after lunch.
Revised: Let’s meet again after lunch.

3. Sorry — I’ve been guilty of overusing it; I admit I’m an apologist. Sometimes we can use it to avoid hard feelings, and lean on it like a crutch. Overuse makes you look weak.

Example: Sorry, I just don’t think getting a new water cooler is a good idea.
Revised: We can’t afford to buy a new water cooler this quarter, so I’ve decided to buy one next spring instead.

4. Maybe — If you tend to waffle, this would one of your favorite words.

Example: Maybe we can go to lunch sometime next week.
Revised: How about lunch together next Tuesday?

5. I think/I believe/I feel/I guess/I suggest…  — They often don’t add anything to sentences. I’ve used them, usually to soften a statement, and certain phrases, such as “I feel,” can work for a psychological effect, to connect with people emotionally. But, without these phrases, your sentences can pack more punch.

Example: I think we should hire an accountant to file our tax return.
Revised: We should hire an accountant to file our tax return.


What do you think? What are some more ways to strengthen your writing?

Does your writing need more weight? See how business writing coaching can help you flex your verbal skills to tone up your writing.


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