Do we absolutely have to use absolutely so much?

One of today’s most over-used and misused words is ‘absolutely’.

‘Will it rain today?’ ‘Absolutely.’

‘Do you believe in global warming?’ ‘Absolutely.’

‘Does poor diet contribute to poor health?’ ‘Absolutely.’

Can’t think of anything else to say – add ‘Absolutely’. I recently heard a state MP being interviewed on radio. Within 2-3 minutes she had said ‘You’re absolutely right’ five times.

A simple ‘Yes’ would have done. Or perhaps ‘certainly’ or ‘definitely’. But not ‘absolutely’.

Absolutely means completely, entirely, free from limitation.
If we want to convey definiteness, as distinct from probability, then use ‘definitely’. If it is going to rain, then ‘absolutely’ doesn’t make the forecast any more certain than ‘yes’.

When a word is over-used and misused it loses impact and meaning. The power of a word comes from what it means, not from being able to use it in any number of responses.

Part of being credible and powerful is to use words with precision and to choose words for their capacity to convey what they mean.
Using a word by habit or because it is popular  is simply a sign of word choice laziness.

So should you drop this word?


Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.