It is not uncommon for the Gazette to field a terse statement from a legal firm vowing to defend their client ‘vigorously’.
This set us thinking about where ‘vigorously’ comes on the Richter scale of adverbs used to demonstrate the heft of one’s case. ‘Strongly’ is common, but ‘robustly’ seems to be gaining ground as PR types ramp up the word inflation. ‘Enthusiastically’ is probably taking things too far.
Such muscle-flexing prompted discussion on Twitter about the best – and worst – language to use when talking up a case. Commenters suggested that ‘strenuously denied’ connotes the opposite, and ‘utmost endeavours’ often means ‘we’ll roll over at the earliest opportunity’.
One lawyer recounted how an opponent referred to a client’s defence, with a spoonful of sarcasm, as ‘boisterous’, while another described how adverbs can spread like a virus once counsel discovers a new one.
The best advice, inevitably, is to close the thesaurus and let your case speak for itself.