I recently stumbled across an old YouTube video in which the late writer David Foster Wallace was asked about what he calls "puff words" — terms like "prior to" and "subsequent to."
Wallace's answer was striking. He didn't qualify it with "Well, there's some debate, but …" or "Depending on the context …" or "Though we should be careful not to label the practice as 'wrong' …"
No, Wallace didn't mince words. Using "utilize" instead of "use," he said, "in 99 cases out of 100 is just stupid." More syllables, Wallace said, add up to nothing but puffery: "Why say 'prior to' instead of 'before,'" he asked, "when the latter lets you say the same thing in fewer words? … Why did you just take up one-third of a second of my lifetime making me parse 'at this time' rather than just saying 'now'?"