A crutch word means different things in speaking and writing. In speaking, a crutch word is a filler that gives you time to think about the next thing to say. Examples are um, well, like, literally, so, etc. They can make your speech sound cluttered and unfocused, and you should try to remove them.
In writing, crutch words mean something a little different. A crutch word in prose is a word you use a lot in most of your writing. It is usually a qualifier or a specific word that shows up frequently in your prose. Something like definitely, basically, just, as though, certainly, probably, etc. Crutch words are not inherently wrong, but they become a problem when you overuse them.
You can identify crutch words in your speech and writing and take them out. Go through your older and recent written works and highlight any word or phrase that seems to be repeated. When you identify your crutch words, keep in mind so you can catch yourself using it. Do the same thing with your speech. Record a few speeches and scan them for crutch words.« Back to Glossary Index