The copywriter’s dictionary

Ryan Wallman
May 21, 2014



  • Copy that fails to make the reader believe.

Carbon copy

  • Copy that bears a striking similarity to that of a competitor.


  1. An over-punctuated piece of copy.
  2. Copy that is firmly up its own behind.


  • Copywriter-strength coffee. As in: “I probably shouldn’t have had two coppees; I think I can see through time”.

Coptical illusion

  • Copy so badly kerned that it appears to have a different meaning from that which was intended.

Copycat killer

  • A copywriter who puts an abrupt end to any request for a cat-related social media campaign.


  • Use of a copywriting cliché. As in: “I can’t believe this company describes itself as ‘innovative’ – what a copy-out”.


  • Copy characterised by vulgar or scatological references.


  • A compulsive preference for copy that states the flaming obvious. Highly prevalent in the automotive industry.

Copyrrhic victory

  • The result of sabotaging copy to thwart someone else’s achievement. As in: “I wasn’t prepared to let my art director get his way, so I had to opt for a copyrrhic victory”.


  • Copy written after consuming a cheap bottle of wine. Appears to be extraordinarily clever and witty at the time of writing but induces a sense of shame the following day.


  • Copy so unremarkable that it gets mistaken for the slug on a print proof.


  • Jargon-riddled copy intended to make the reader think “this company is too smart to bother with making this comprehensible”.


  • Copy based on an obscure 1980s pop-culture reference, which therefore appeals only to the writer’s generation.

Osso buccopy

  • Copy that’s delicious, on the proviso that you don’t look at it too closely.


  • Extremely dry copy that sucks all the interest out of a piece of communication. Often related to insurance products.


By Ryan Wallman, Head of Copy at Wellmark.

Connect with me on Google+ at +Ryan Wallman

For more silliness and irreverence, try:

‘Copy Copy Copy’ image by David Goehring, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons under a CC BY 2.0 licence.

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