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For many of us there are new words or new usages that we love to hate – or maybe just hate. Some of us dislike the increasingly widened use of ‘curate’ (as in a museum, not an apprentice vicar!), or of ‘paradigm’ (I’m sure it has a proper meaning, even if what that is escapes me …). For me a recent one has been ‘Congrats!’. For some reason it has grated on me. Irritated me beyond measure.

Sir Cliff didn’t sing ‘Congrats!”. What would have come next – ‘And celebrats!’? I don’t think that’d have come second in Eurovision. Twenty-second, perhaps.

Which words or usages have this effect on you?

When you’re writing, can you bring yourself to put these words into the mouths of your characters? If you just hate the unliteral use of ‘literally’, would you make one of your characters use it as showing rather than telling an aspect of their characters? Or, perhaps, are you so annoyed by it that you wouldn’t want any piece of work with your name on it to contain this solecism? Tricky one, eh?

I’ve changed my mind on ‘Congrats!’, for two reasons. The first was seeing Rafael Nadal use it twice in his victory speech after having just won the American Open: if one of the best tennis players the world has even seen can use it, speaking in a language not his mother tongue, clutching one of the sport’s biggest prizes, then who am I to criticise …

The second reason is more prosaic. I was composing a tweet. I needed to cut some characters to keep within the magic 140. And, yes, it was ‘ulation’ that went. There. I’ve admitted it. I’ve used it myself. It’s not so bad.

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