Words Matter: Hate

by Randy Murray on May 17, 2012

Too few people understand the power of words. Words matter, they have impact, but often not with the impact we anticipate.

Writers in particular must choose and use words carefully. Words are our basic tools.

Today’s word that matters: hate.

I’ve been seeing the word hate used frequently in recent times. People appear to be hating a very large number of things. If you’re a Twitter user, search for the word hate. It’s striking and disturbing.

Here are two particular phrases I’ve seen recently:

“Hate the sin, not the sinner.”
“Hate the belief, not the believer.”

I also notice an abundance of usage that throws out the word hate. For example, “I hate it when _blank_ happens.”

Hate is a particularly powerful word and emotion. Writers (and others) might consider reserving it, like a particularly strong swear word. Hate implies that you should do something about the thing you hate, that you should take action, perhaps violent action.

Is that what you really mean? Do you really hate someone for what they believe? Are you so filled with anger and revulsion at a common occurrence? If you really hate something, someone, what are you going to do about it, about them?

If you do, if you are, then perhaps you need professional help. I’m serious about that. If you are constantly filled with hate, something is wrong with you.

Perhaps you don’t hate as much as you think and that may lead you to select different, better words that more accurately describe your feelings, emotions, and dictate less violent actions. It’s more likely that there are far more things that you dislike or that aggravate you than there are things that you hate.

If you reserve a word like hate for times when it’s completely accurate and appropriate, then it becomes more powerful. Use it when that’s what you mean. And when you use a powerful word and emotion like hate, be clear about what you intend to do about it.

When you find that you’re not using a word effectively, that you’re using it wrong, plant it in your word garden. Learn to use it correctly, perhaps use it less.

And create the impact you want, when you want.


The Words Matter: Hate by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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