Valve Developer Community:Avoid peacock terms

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This article is borrowed from Wikipedia [1]

In articles, try to avoid Peacock Terms that merely show off the subject of the article without imparting real information.

Some terms to watch for:

  • "an important..."
  • "one of the most important..."
  • "one of the best..."
  • "the most influential..."
  • "a significant..."
  • "intriguingly..."
  • "indisputable..."

These terms do not help establish the importance of an article. Let the facts speak for themselves. If the ice hockey player, canton, or species of beetle is worth the reader's time, it will come out in the facts. Insisting on its importance clutters the writing and adds nothing.


Consider the following two examples. Which do you think makes for more interesting reading?

William Peckenridge, eighth Duke of Omnium (1642? - May 8, 1691) is considered, by some people, to be the most important man ever to carry that title.
William Peckenridge, eighth Duke of Omnium (1642? - May 8, 1691) was personal counselor to King James I, general in the Wars of the Roses, a chemist, bandleader, and the director of the secret society known as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. He expanded the title of Omnium to include protectorship of Guiana and right of revocation for civil-service appointments in India.

The first example simply tells the reader that William Peckenridge was important. The second example shows the reader that he was important. Show; don't tell.

Inappropriate subjects

  • To be completed

See also