Why you need to stop writing about ‘world-class’ things

'World-class' doesn't mean anything. Get rid of it.

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If there’s one thing you never write again, make it ‘world-class’. It doesn’t mean anything anymore. Even when it does have meaning, when you’re writing about something that is verifiably among the best in the world, there are better things to write than ‘world-class’. If it is the lightest laptop in the world, then say so. If it is the only solar-powered dog brush factory in the world, then be specific and call it that. Do not default to ‘world-class’.

So what’s the fuss about? The problem is, everyone’s using it. Look at these world-class pet toys and beds. And did you know that Norwich is world-class for business, and world-class for living? And have you ever thought about the top places in the world to park your car? Because here is the world-class parking company who think they have that world-class experience covered. (To be fair, this chauffeur does look excellent):

So maybe I'm being a bit mean - ‘world-class’ was probably a punchy thing to use, once. And now that everyone’s using it, everyone thinks that by not using it their thing becomes less than world-class. I see why people still do it, but it has to stop.

here's some World-class thought leadership

Overuse has elevated the 'world-class' to a plane of ridiculousness. You can’t be a successful business anymore. You definitely can’t be a person. You must be a world-class thought-leader striding through a glittering, glass-clad world-class airport, on your way to a meeting with, no doubt, another world-class talent and their entrepreneurial business director. You’re probably sitting in a world-class office facility as you read this. World-class biscuit with your coffee, ma’am?

You get the idea. World-class is no longer world-class – it’s a baggy, shapeless catch-all phrase for when you need to inflate and intensify something beyond itself. And in that way, it’s like lots of intensifiers: you can delete them, and you won’t miss them from the copy. 

If the balance of the sentence does rely on something being there, be specific – go back to the facts about the thing, and work it out from there. That way, you not only give people something real – you also begin to remove the unmistakable whiff of bullshit from your prose.

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