While proofreading a client’s newsletter, I flagged this: A person quoted in an article about the switch of IT support to a call centre in India calls the staff “a well-trained, highly incented and duly rewarded group of employees.” UGH!

I understand the intent, as the perpetrator explained: “Highly incented in this case means they work in a competitive environment where the high performers are rewarded both as individuals and in teams.” But really, don’t you think the word “motivated” might be a little more attractive?

By pure coincidence, I had encountered incent earlier in the day, in a list of top 10 business buzzwords at Encarta:

Incent: A nonword that is often used in business as a verb. Instead of creating incentives, management types may try to incent their team to sell more by offering — you guessed it — incentives.

For some reason, I can more easily stomach the other commonly verbed words given as examples: text (“Hey, text me the address”) and Google (“I googled him before the first date”). But incent is right up there with win/win and its evil cousin, win/win/win, as something I can’t bring myself to say. I’m sorry to say it’s going to appear in my client’s newsletter though.