Can’t Wait to Ship It – Ship It Real Good? Read This First.

shipping containers stacked on dockIt’s time we had a little … talk.

About that “s”-word.

No, not that one.

Ship. THAT one.

Now, don’t get me wrong. “Ship” is a perfectly acceptable word.


See these big containers up above? The ones that look like railroad cars without the wheels? Yeah, those are what we call shipping containers.

And unless the thing you’re ostensibly “shipping” could, conceivably, at some point between you/your place of business and the home/office/yurt/whatever of your end purchaser, travel INSIDE ONE OF THESE, you are NOT shipping.

You are finishing something. Something even maybe huge for you, in which case – yay! Congrats! I am SUPER proud of you!

(But you’re still not shipping.)

You are getting ready to launch a new service, maybe. Or maybe you’ve completed your awesome writing project and are about to upload it to Amazon for sale as a Kindle ebook.

(You, too, are still not shipping.)

“OK, OK,” you may be saying right about now, “but ANNIE, language evolves, and words come to mean new things!”

Yes, pumpkin. You are absolutely 100% correct on that point. You’re still not shipping.

“But, but ANNIE,” you may sputter, “I kinda AM shipping ’cause it’s similar!”

Touché, my lamb. Totally solid point. And yet, similar isn’t shipping, either.

ANNIE!” you fairly roar. “It’s just a … a … METAPHOR! Or something!”

“Something” is thoroughly correct, my poppet. But what it ain’t? Is an accurate use of the word “shipping.”

“Well so what?” you mumble. “Who’s it hurting?”

You mean besides me?

Excellent question, you rock star, you. (Still not shipping.)

OK, all joking aside, here’s where I’m coming from:

  1. Words are important. They mean stuff. They mean specific stuff. When we use them to mean other stuff, we weaken their impact, both individually and as a whole. (Do I need to remind you here that literally literally doesn’t mean literally anymore?!)
  2. You don’t want to sound like That Guy. You know what I mean. You know WHO I mean. That. Guy. The one (because That Guy can be either male or female) who sounds like a reject extra from an early ’90’s movie about day traders.

Ditch the ship. Unless you’re talking about ‘shipping. In which case, I TOTALLY ‘ship Caskett.

Which is a completely different thing than shipping caskets.

P.T. Barnum was a man of many words, which he used to promote hoaxes and circus acts. These days, a whole cadre of words belong to a genre known as jargon. These jibber-jabber nonsense words have come to be a nuisance for legitimate businesspeople and the elixir of life for the more unscrupulous snake oil salesmen in our midst. This month’s Word Carnival explores jargon in depth across a variety of industries, but one thing’s for certain: there’s no double-speak here, just on-the-money advice for anyone tired of flim-flam. Find all the awesome posts from our Word Carnies here!

Photo credit: Tristan Taussac via photopin cc

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Melanie Kissell September 24, 2014 at 12:31 am

All I can say is:
Your SHIP has sailed on this one, Annie!! 😉

You’ve probably figured out by now that I’m a word nerd and a full-fledged member of the Grammar Police. So, naturally, this part really hit home: “Words are important. They mean stuff. They mean specific stuff. When we use them to mean other stuff, we weaken their impact, both individually and as a whole.” People are murdering the English language these days, especially online. It’s almost impossible to get through one whole day without a barrage of buzzwords and misused words.

Wonderful post! Thanks for shipping. (Goofy grin)

Annie Sisk September 24, 2014 at 7:12 am

Aw, thanks, Mel. Ship happens. 🙂 (I can do this all day.)

Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef September 24, 2014 at 8:33 am

This post made me think of that Kmart commercial (I shipped my pants) and then I couldn’t stop laughing. Here’s hoping we can put that “did you ship?” thing to rest.

Sharon Hurley Hall September 24, 2014 at 1:40 pm

No ship, Sherlock! This is a coffee-snorter of a post, Annie.

Carol Lynn Rivera September 24, 2014 at 2:22 pm

This is one of those jargon-y things that simply doesn’t need to exist. Like, when you have a perfectly acceptable and specific word you could use that doesn’t sound idiotic…. like, “did you finish that project?” It seems so unnecessary to co-opt a whole other word for saying the thing you can already say quite clearly! I think this type of word just makes people feel important. “Yeah, baby, I know how to lingo it up with all the cool people!”

Ashley Welton September 24, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Hahahah, Annie you made me laugh with this one.

And THIS is the crux of it all, “Words are important. They mean stuff. They mean specific stuff. When we use them to mean other stuff, we weaken their impact, both individually and as a whole.”

Consider this comment shipped. 😉

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