8 Overused English Words to Avoid in Translation

Last Updated May 16, 2020

When translating into English, choosing the right words can make a big impact. But translation is often held back by overused (and frankly, boring) words.

While keeping things simple has its advantages, relying on overused words can cause translation errors and disrupt the author’s intentions—not to mention the text then becomes straightforward and dull.

When translating into English, it’s better to look for synonyms that will make the translation accurate, substantive, and captivating. This applies primarily to difficult and specialized content. Here is a list of words that are too often used as well as their substitutes.

8 Overused Words to Avoid

1. Good

“Good” is an extremely general but frequently used word in English translation.

While it doesn’t convey any strong meaning, it’s often used in cases like “good project”, “good film,” or “good collaboration.”

“Good” can be easily substituted with more compelling synonyms like:

  • perfect
  • unique
  • profitable
  • fruitful
  • beneficial

The key takeaway here is to choose a word that better fits the context and meaning of the original message.

2. Important

“Important” is another easily replaceable term. To say “a meeting was important” is quite general and doesn’t add any information for the reader.

Use other adjectives that carry more meaning, like:

  • urgent
  • key
  • relevant
  • valuable
  • major

3. Interesting

Much like “important” and “good”, saying something is “interesting” doesn’t carry any inherent meaning.

There are plenty of alternatives to “interesting” that are not only more captivating to read, but carry more information:

  • intriguing
  • engaging
  • entertaining
  • full of possibility
  • compelling
  • attractive

4. Like

Interpersonal relationships are so full of color and shades that you can rarely limit their description to just ‘liking’.

To create a compelling translation, you need to look for linguistic nuances and less obvious words. People can:

  • admire
  • adore
  • respect
  • inspire

5. Angry

It’s also worth avoiding overused phrases when describing human emotion.

It of course depends on the idea contained in the source text, but “angry” is another too-often used adjectives in English.

When the translation is about anger and annoyance, you can reach for adjectives such as:

  • irritated
  • exasperated
  • outraged
  • furious
  • resentful

6. Beautiful

When a translation is about highlighting beauty, a more sophisticated vocabulary should be your friend.

“Beautiful woman” says far too little. Instead, opt for language like:

  • dazzling
  • delightful
  • breath-taking
  • charming
  • alluring

7. Many

Be careful when talking about large quantities. “There were many people in the store” may not give a full picture of the situation.

“Many” can be easily replaced by more descriptive words, like:

  • numerous
  • abundant
  • countless
  • vast
  • innumerable

8. Things

Among the favorites of the most general English words are the “things” we own, buy, or do.

However, this imprecise term doesn’t carry as much value as describing the object or category in question. Use the available phrase palette to enrich the translation and strengthen the message.

The overall message: don’t be afraid to reach for less commonly used phrases. Sometimes, they will help to express the author’s intentions with the greatest accuracy. You should consult a thesaurus or online application that will provide you with a rich inventory of synonyms.

And in some cases, it will be necessary to ask for support from a professional translation agency where translators are specialized in specific fields and industries.

Contact us today if you require translation services.

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