Did you know that civil servants have been banned from using meaningless buzzwords and told to use Plain English instead? In a victory for commonsense, Whitehall officials have been instructed not to use long words where short ones will do – ‘buy’ instead of ‘purchase,’ ‘help’ instead of ‘assist’, ‘like’ instead of ‘such as’ and ‘use’ instead of ‘utilise’, for example.
Bureaucrats have also been forbidden from using Americanisms like “fill out a form” rather than “fill in a form”.
Here are those banned words:
- Agenda (unless it’s for a meeting)
- Collaborate (use ‘working with’ instead)
- Combat (except in a military context)
- Deliver (unless talking about pizza or post – definitely not priorities)
- Deploy (unless referring to the military or software)
- Foster (unless it’s about children)
- Key (only to be used in the context of locking or unlocking a door)
- Progress (used as a verb)
- Tackling (unless relating to sport)
If you haven’t noticed any improvements in government communications yet it’s quite likely due to the guidance being buried several clicks down on an obscure part of a government website. As a result, few are aware it exists. “The first we know about these things is when we read them in newspapers,” one official said. “None of us had any idea this was out there.”