In Defense of the Most-Overused Buzzword on LinkedIn: 'Responsible'

It's better than "mature."
More
Reuters

LinkedIn combed through 259 million profiles and ranked the most commonly used words among 20 countries. Number one was responsible, which was twice as popular as any other word on the list. Here are the top ten:

1. Responsible 

2. Strategic

3. Creative  

4. Effective

5. Patient

6. Expert

7.  Organizational  

8. Driven

9. Innovative 

10. Analytical 

The most interesting finding? Patient, the fifth most-used word, appears in the top ten in just one country: ours. In fact, American profiles mention patience so much that we account for 50 percent of its worldwide mentions. Either we are uncommonly patient, or we think our fellow Americans are so impatient that it's a distinguishing quality. (The latter, certainly.)

Sustainable only made the top ten in the Netherlands. Enthusiastic only made the UK's list. Passionate is top-ten only in Australia and New Zealand. 

LinkedIn's report calls these words "overused." But the trouble with responsible is that it (a) is an essential quality, and (b) has no obvious synonyms. Trustworthy? You sound like an exceptional pet dog. Dependable? You sound like a car service, or perhaps a light bulb. Sensible? You sound like a moderately priced shoe. Mature? Just ... no. Update: As some pointed out on Twitter, many of the uses of responsible are probably job descriptions—as in "I was responsible for managing accounts for etc., etc."—which has even fewer applicable synonyms. 

We ought to be more patient with responsible.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In