Couldn't We Care Less About The Word 'Pivot,' Irregardless Of The Consequences? : Editorial Guidance from the Managing Editor Standards & Practices Editor Mark Memmott writes occasional notes about the issues journalists encounter and the way NPR handles them. They often expand on topics covered in the Ethics Handbook.

Couldn't We Care Less About The Word 'Pivot,' Irregardless Of The Consequences?

Scott Simon weighed in last month about the word "pivot," which he's tired of hearing in stories about politicians. "The hundredth time you've heard it bounce off the echo chamber of pundits and analysts, it begins to smack of smug insider-ness," he said.

"Pivot" is a word we use a lot when discussing politicians and their shifting positions. It shows up in about 100 stories we posted or broadcast in the past year.

Scott has a point. We don't have to use the same word every time. Just as each tornado does not have to "sound like a freight train," every politician's pirouette does not have to be called a pivot. Let's try to use some other words. "Change" or "switch" or "shift" offer possibilities. Maybe it's a simple "turn."

Today's other potentially pedantic points:

– Just say "regardless." "Irregardless" means "without without regard" and just doesn't make sense.

– If you're "flaunting," that means you're proudly showing off. If you're "flouting," you're showing scorn or contempt; rejecting or defying.

– In almost all cases, you really mean to say "couldn't care less," not "could care less."

– "Sink, sank, sunk." "Spring, sprang, sprung." Watch your tenses.

Redundancies and clichés are almost always wastes of time and space. In the vast majority of cases we're better off without them.