Clash of the crutch words: play US election word bingo

What we say and how we say it can reveal our greatest ideas and strengths. But also expose our biggest weaknesses.

In a time of fake news, 140-character tweets and stirring speeches, words have meant everything in the languid US election. Trump and Biden are head-to-head not only in a battle of beliefs, but in a grand conflict of rhetoric. 

What we say and how we say it can reveal our greatest ideas and strengths. But it can also expose our biggest weaknesses. And no collection of words does this more than someone’s crutch words.  

Crutch words are words we use in both writing and speech to support ourselves when we need time to think or we’re not quite sure what to say.   

Examples of common crutch words are “clearly,” “well” and “so,” and “the thing is,” “personally” and ‘right?”.

We all have our own crutch words and that’s ok. It’s when they’re overused and your filler words start to take over the main content that people start to notice them — and then there’s no going back. 

Crutch words are a problem because they dilute the strength of your message. The fluff and clutter brought by repeated crutch words weakens the impact of the overall argument. They can also distract the listener or reader, bringing them out of your narrative. 

The world has been listening for months to Biden and Trump. We may not have a presidential winner quite yet but is there a clear loser when it comes to crutch words?


MaybeBelieve meStupid
Fire and furyWinningYou’ll find out
Millions and billionsA lot of moneyFake news

We can see that all Trump’s crutch words are direct and rather aggressive. With perhaps his favourite go-to filler word, “maybe”, contributing to his reputation to incorrectly frame possibilities as the hard truth. His crutch words boil neatly down to expose the terror he has inflicted so far while being in office.


C’mon man!C’mon man!C’mon man!
C’mon man!C’mon man!C’mon man!
C’mon man!C’mon man!C’mon man!

Biden, then, has pretty much one crutch word that he uses to place emphasis and regain the attention of the room: “C’mon man!”. Although it’s a rather chummy, seemingly incongruous turn of phrase, it has to be better than his 2012 go-to crutch word: “literally”. And even though Biden is said to be “fine”, and doesn’t exactly have that “je ne sais quoi”, his singular crutch word suggests he is at least consistent and focused in his good intentions, and not misogynistic or racist like, ehem, Trump. (BBC news)

Feel free to download these charts to play US election crutch word bingo when these figures next give a speech. You’re bound to get a full house. 

Do you want to make sure your B2B content is free of crutch words? Want to say goodbye to cliches? Would you like some help saying what you really want to say? 

Get in touch with our content team

Photo: Unsplash