Weasel Words

Weasel Words

Weasel words are vague and do not add specific detail to your writing. Removing them ensures your writing sounds formal, confident, and meaningful.

Let's look at how to identify a weasel word and what you can do to reduce the number of them in your writing.

What Are They and How to Avoid Them?

Weasel words are vague expressions that lack precision and can weaken your writing. These words and phrases, such as “some,” “many,” “could,” or “might,” often fail to provide concrete information, leading to ambiguity.

Here’s an example of weasel words:

  • Many people might find this product useful.

In this sentence, “many” and “might” are vague and don’t provide clear information. A more definitive statement would be, “70% of customers find this product useful.”

Using weasel words makes your writing less direct and can remove the power from your statements. By using specific details and clear language, you enhance your writing’s strength.

Sometimes, it is hard to avoid weasel words, especially when dealing with uncertain information. But most of the time, you’ll want to replace them with concrete data.

How Weasel Words Affect Your Readers

Weasel words can create confusion in your readers. If you’re using vague terms, you might construct a sentence that leaves the reader wondering about the specifics.

  • The team could win the game.

This sentence is grammatically correct, but who is the team? What game? And why only “could”? It feels incomplete, leaving readers without a clear picture.

Depending on the context, weasel words can make your statements open to interpretation, causing uncertainty about the message.

Consider these examples:

  • Some errors were made in the report.

Who made the errors? What were they?

  • Measures might be taken to improve safety.

What measures? By whom? When?

When Are Weasel Words Okay?

Sometimes, weasel words might be appropriate:

  • The results may vary depending on individual circumstances.

In this case, the uncertainty is inherent to the situation, and “may” is appropriate.

Weasel words are also common in legal, scientific, or speculative contexts, where absolute certainty is not always possible. As the writer, you have the discretion to use or avoid weasel words based on the context.


Weasel words, while sometimes necessary, often detract from the clarity and strength of your writing. Being aware of them and replacing them with specific, concrete information whenever possible will make your writing more direct, clear, and persuasive. Whether in business, academia, or casual writing, avoiding weasel words can significantly improve your communication.