Got a newsletter from my employer this week that used the word “ideate”. It rhymed with the other words in the sentence, but I didn’t bother reading past that first sentence because “ideate” bugged me so much. I know that we all make up words here and there, sometimes by accident and sometimes on purpose. Jokingly, I will add multiple endings to words like “fantabulosity”. More often, I will be at a loss for words and stumble over syllables until something that seems like the length of a real word has been reached. And oldie but a goodie – phototography. I must remind you, this is not the norm.
Most importantly, I never use these words in a business setting. My boss and coworkers are pretty laid back, but any time I have to address someone formally in the work environment, I reach back into the far corners of my brain and dust off college, high school, middle school, elementary school, and Sesame Street English.
Formal written English is a dying art. We can blame it on the schools, but that brings up a whole slew of different issues such as funding, testing, etc. I prefer to blame it on pop culture. Even when I was a kid, products and shows marketed towards kids used misspelled words like “kool” and “Xtreme” so that we’d know that they were meant for us Xtremely kool kids. Now, I see kids and young people text each other and write blogs using misspelled or very short versions of already-misspelled and pre-shortened words such as “kewl” or “kk”. Did we really need to shorten “ok” to “kk”? (I still write, “okay”. because I’m old and set in my dang ways.)
I suppose it’s fine if the youths want to have some fun with their hip lingo daddy-o. My problem is that this extends into the workplace now. There is no reason for a Fortune 500 company to use a word like “ideate” in a newsletter to all employees. It doesn’t make the employer seem hip, cool, relateable, or even amusing. It seemed more desperate and lazy to me. Granted, I’m a word nerd and it drives me nutty buckets when people send me emails at work telling me about how something “effects” them. Still, I think that work media meant to be dispersed to hundreds of thousands of employees can make an effort to use formal written English.
In that specific newsletter, I believe the newsletter writers were going for amusing since the other words ended in “-ate” and were verbs. However, nobody “ideates”. We can develop ideas, brainstorm, or come up with new ideas. We can write down our ideas, expand upon our ideas, and even trash our ideas. Whoever “ideated” that word should be “fireated”. What bothers me most is that I’m sure that person makes at least twice as much as me, but probably three times more than me. With all of that money, you would think that a person could afford high-end tools like dictionaries and thesauruses, but who am I to tell someone how to spend his or her money?
Then, I used my dictionary and realized that “ideate” is a real mo fo word.
There are multiple companies that use the word in their name. Know what they do? They ideate. Yeah, because it’s a verb. So, I’m going to shut the hell up about “ideate” now, but I stand by what I said about all the other stuff!