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14 Most Persuasive English Words

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My friend and partner in ministry Bob Garwig [minister of the local Presbyterian Church (USA)] sent what he says are the 14 most persuasive words in the English language:

  • save
  • discover
  • safety
  • health
  • you
  • guarantee
  • love
  • easy
  • how to
  • money
  • proven
  • free
  • results
  • new

I am not sure who came up with Bob’s list, but these sorts of lists have a long lineage. Mark Liberman and Geoffrey K. Pullum at their “Language Log” found a similar list dating back to an article by Bennett Cerf from November 1963. (Cerf lists “discovery” instead of “discover” and does not list “safety”, “health”, “how to” or “free.” You can find the Language Log lists here. They show the progression/evolution of this list through the 1960’s and 70’s.

I found a similar list from Wayne Berry, “Australia’s TOP GUN Sales coach & sales speaker.” He lists the 16 most Persuasive Words. He does not have safety (he has “safe” instead), you, love, or “how to.” But he adds “good, own, freedom, best, investment.” You can find Berry’s List here.

I am not sure what such lists show, except that there are certain key words that some “experts, somewhere, sometime felt were helpful at getting people to buy, do, think whatever you want. Frankly, I am glad the proclamation of the gospel is not that complicated!

(Thanks Bob for the list!! Another member of our Thursday pastors prayer group issued the challenge to use all 14 of Bob’s words in this Sunday’s sermon. I think I’ll pass…)

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