Understanding Tortured Phrases in Academic Writing

Understanding Tortured Phrases in Academic Writing

Tortured phrases are often unintentionally coined in academic writing, resulting in awkward or nonsensical language. This phenomenon can occur due to various reasons, including overreliance on AI-generated text, lack of proper understanding of the context, the need to speed up the writing process, and the use of overlapping phrases.

Common Reasons Behind the Coining of Tortured Phrases

  • Overreliance on AI-generated text: In a rush to publish more academic content, authors may rely too heavily on AI-generated text, leading to the appearance of awkward phrases.
  • Lack of proper understanding: Authors may not fully grasp the context of the text they are incorporating into their writing, resulting in the use of inappropriate language.
  • Need to speed up the writing process: To save time, authors may opt to use AI-generated text without thorough validation, which can result in the inclusion of nonsensical phrases.
  • Overlapping phrases: Sometimes, phrases that are similar to established idioms or expressions but use different words can inadvertently create tortured phrases.

How to Avoid Tortured Phrases

To prevent the occurrence of tortured phrases in academic writing, authors should consider the following strategies:

  • Proper validation of AI-generated text: Before incorporating AI-generated text into their work, authors should ensure its accuracy and appropriateness.
  • Understanding the context: Authors should strive to understand the context of the text they are using and ensure that it aligns with the overall message of their writing.
  • Avoid using similar phrases: Instead of relying on slightly altered versions of established phrases, authors should aim to use language that is clear, concise, and accurate.


In conclusion, understanding the concept of tortured phrases, identifying the reasons behind their occurrence, and implementing strategies to avoid them are essential aspects of producing high-quality academic writing. By validating AI-generated text, grasping the context of the material being used, and avoiding the use of similar phrases, authors can minimize the presence of tortured phrases in their work, thereby enhancing its clarity and effectiveness.

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