26 Friends is a reference to the letters of the english alphabet. letters (and the words they make) are my main tools of trade.
26 Friends aims to inform, uplift, entertain and occasionally challenge readers.

Our most misused word?

It would be hard to think of a more misused word right now than ‘around’. This once low-key preposition (it can also be an adverb) most commonly means 'surrounding', 'approximately' or 'near by'. But every day it is thrust into the spotlight by being misused, often by prominent people including politicians, journalists and commentators. It's almost impossible to listen to a news broadcast or current affairs program or read a newspaper and not encounter the abuse of 'around'. Typically it is mistakenly used for either 'about' or 'with'.

"We'll be having a discussion around that policy during our next Cabinet meeting." (Sounds like these politicians will be avoiding talking about the policy.)

"I have some serious issues around Labor's new tax policy." (Actually, you have serious issues 'with' the new policy.)

I first heard 'around' being butchered in this way several years ago, during a work seminar. The speaker said something like: “We'll be talking around this campaign later in the day." Instantly I was confused. Why would we be so evasive?

Of course, once you first notice a word being misused, you start to notice it more and more. Misusing 'around' simply sounds pretentious, bureaucratic, inexact or sloppy.

As the award-winning author Don Watson once said: "The public language will only lift in tone and clarity when those who write and speak it take words seriously again."

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