A Short Rant on “Shortly”

As a wordsmith, I cringe at the phrase “someone will be with you shortly.” (“On hold” phone messages, in particular, are plagued by this abysmal little promise.) I know the intended meaning for “shortly” is “in a short time.” But “shortly” can also mean “abruptly,” “sharply,” or “curtly.” Whenever I hear it, regardless of context, my subconcious girds for an argument.

A better choice is “soon.” It carries the intended meaning without the baggage. What’s more, it uses a mere four letters and one economic syllable.

Why risk coming across as brusque or unfriendly? Deep-six “shortly” from your service vernacular. And do it soon.

What do you think?