“Look”: A Favorite Word of the Political Season

Too many sentences are launched with this imperious imperative.

In this election season, politicians and pundits have been holding forth on issues ranging from health care and national security to the state of the economy. Regardless of topic, they often begin their comments with Look.

Look, every American deserves affordable healthcare.
Look, we need to protect our national interests.
Look, the fundamentals of the economy are strong.

I have even heard Lookit. Look has a perfectly legitimate place in our language, but it’s overused and misused.

If you intend to establish a confrontational or condescending tone, express frustration, or have someone’s eyes turn in a particular direction, look may be just the word you need to start your sentence. However, if you are using look to fill space, consider a pause instead.




Carole Peretti • Tue, May 17, 2016 - 12:05 am EDT

I almost started my own blog about “look”. Hopefully it isn’t only six of us made nuts by that awful word. OH how I yearn for the days of my youth, when gifted speakers like JFK gave us something to really listen to. I will never get used to the way our modern society has stripped us of the arts. Yes, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and human beings were moved to draw, decorate, cook, write, build and sew-what a more interesting time to be alive and just observe!

Brandt Johnson • Tue, May 17, 2016 - 6:45 pm EDT
A “look” blog would have plenty of material to draw from these days! Thank you for your vivid historical perspective, Carole!

Roger Argo • Fri, April 15, 2016 - 12:14 am EDT

Thank you thank you thank you. I thought I was going crazy!  And I was every time I heard “LOOK” You are right on when you say it is condescending and arrogant. Paul Ryan uses it nearly every chance he gets. I like Speaker Ryan, but nearly as much as I would if he’d humble his language a tad.

Brandt Johnson • Fri, April 15, 2016 - 9:01 pm EDT
No, Roger, you are not going crazy! Thanks for your comment.

Liz P in MT • Mon, February 22, 2016 - 7:29 pm EST

I see your post is several years old, but it’s more relevant now than ever. I don’t EVER remember hearing “look” used as much as it is now, in 2016. It makes me feel like the speaker is physically “grabbing my face” and forcing me to “look” at them speak. Very rude. Does it make them feel more knowledgeable? Superior? Please, make it stop!

Brandt Johnson • Wed, February 24, 2016 - 9:31 am EST
Liz, what a vivid description of how “look” makes you feel! I wish I could stop all the face grabbing! Thank you so much for your post.

Minerva Moser • Thu, November 12, 2015 - 9:25 pm EST

Thank God I finally found this webpage!  I had been trying to find some recognition by other people that they are just as sick of hearing politicians, specifically, prefacing so many of their statements with “Look,...”  It seems rude to me.  I’m not sure why, but it does.  It has become so overused.  Journalists on television are doing it, too.  It’s like an infectious disease.  Every time I hear it now, I can’t help thinking, “There’s someone declaring his or her status as a politician.”

Brandt Johnson • Tue, November 24, 2015 - 9:25 am EST
I am glad you found this page, Minerva! I definitely share your disdain for over-“looking”!

susan • Wed, November 12, 2014 - 8:25 am EST

I am getting very annoyed at hearing too many media people and politicians peppering their comments with “look” continuously.  I stop hearing what they are trying to relate when they command me to “look”.

Brandt Johnson • Fri, November 14, 2014 - 2:46 pm EST
I agree that it can be annoying and distracting!
Thank you for your comment, Susan.