July 20, 2014

Waffling Weasel Words by Brenda J Wood

"In her book, You Never Gave Me a Name, Katie Funk Wiebe wrote that one of her husband's professors at Syracuse University told her that she used too many "weasel words" like "perhaps" to avoid saying what she meant. A few paragraphs later, she tells how she ended an appeal for reason, by saying, "Perhaps I am wrong in this," and says, "There was that weasel word 'perhaps' again.'

From that moment on I noticed weasel words every time I wrote them or said them, and they seemed to pervade my emails with alarming frequency. I realized how often I weakened a point I really meant, by giving the receiver a way out of agreeing, in order to avoid being "wrong." Suddenly I found myself rereading statements that I thought I had made, only to find that I hadn't made them at all, but only a vague allusion to what I meant!"

Belinda Burston wrote this on her July 2 blog and I've been thinking about it ever since. So then I had to ask myself how many times do I speak of commitment, all the while knowing I've left ourselves a way out?

"Yes, we must have coffee together one day soon."

"Oh, perhaps I can babysit but I have to check my schedule."

Do we also waffle when we write? What does that say about us? Do we say what we mean and mean what we say? Or are our real selves and our true opinions hidden under waffling weasel words?

Brenda also writes at Heartfelt Devotionals.


  1. Oh my goodness, did I ever connect with this waffling and weasel words, and my effort to be inoffensive -we are Canadian and strive to be politically correct at all costs. Thanks for this ... I will contemplate this!

  2. Perhaps (waffle word!) we are too Canadian??
    Brenda J Wood

  3. Dear Lord--show me where I am a waffling weasel with my words and teach me how to not live in that world. Show me how to be bold for You, Jesus. Amen.
    (thanks for this post Brenda)


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