Once again, Lake Superior State University has released its List of Words to be Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness. This tradition began in 1976 and has continued as a service to word lovers everywhere.
Following is the 2014 list with my thoughts on each word/phrase LSSU suggests banning, because we are collectively sick of hearing them:
Selfie. I remember when I finally got a smartphone that allowed me to flip the lens so that I could more easily take a picture of myself. No longer did I have to hold my arm out to Timbuktu, pray that I got the angle right, and snap a less-than-flattering photo to upload to social media or send to a friend. Because of course, someday, for some reason, you have to take a “selfie” — a self-snapped photo of yourself. Especially if you’re prime minister of Denmark and sitting in between the POTUS and the British prime minister.
Twerk. Do we just get to banish the word or the whole practice of twerking? Miley Cyrus brought the spotlight to this word in 2013, with her wild performance at the MTV Video Music Awards as she “danced” with Robin Thicke. But my favorite story of twerking in 2013 involved Jimmy Kimmel, and the unbelievable scam he and his crew pulled on YouTube watchers and news media everywhere.
Hashtag. Thanks to Twitter and other social media sites, hashtags turned the pound sign (#) into something entirely different. Companies, organizations, celebrities, and party people come up with hashtags that range from product titles to profanity. And it’s even moved into conversation, with people trying to emphasize a point by prefacing it with “hashtag.” Seriously? Not everything should be a hashtag.
Twittersphere. I’m not sure why Twitter got picked on. There’s been a movement to make everything into a “sphere” these days: the blogosphere, the Twittersphere, the Facebooksphere, the atmosphere (oh wait, that’s a real one). But you get the point.
Mister Mom. I didn’t know this was overused. Or even used. Indeed, the last time I’ve really considered this phrase is when Michael Keaton put out a film by that title in 1983.
T-Bone. This is a verb description of an automobile accident, apparently overused in news reports. I guess it’s overused in traffic reports, though I don’t listen to those since I work from home and don’t commute. But now, this is overuse of “t-bone”:
___ on Steroids. If something is super-big, it’s obviously on performance-enhancing drugs. Didn’t we learn that with Barry Bonds home run record and Alex Rodriguez’s ego?
-Ageddon and -Pocalypse. These endings get added to words to manufacture a sense of crisis. But as I’ve pointed out, “Armageddon” and “Apocalypse” have real backgrounds in all of that end-of-the-world, grab-your-granny-and-hide stuff. Whereas running out of chocolate should not create a “chocopocalypse”; you’ll be okay.
Intellectually/Morally Bankrupt. This phrase occurs often in the world of politics. Thus, its unbelievable overuse.
Obamacare. It’s going to be difficult to keep away from this one, since this health care bill finally goes into full effect this year. Actually, I’m in favor of all bill titles having a character limit, like what exists in the Twittersphere. If you name something the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” you should expect others to give it a nickname that will actually fit in a hashtag.
Adversity. Specifically used in sports. The objections to its constant use apparently involve frustration that athletes are said to overcome “adversity” to make the professional leagues, when some feel their stories don’t ring as true on the adversity scale as, say, starving children and wounded soldiers. I can’t say this one bugs me so much, but that’s probably because I haven’t watch a full game of anything in maybe two years.
Fan Base. The problem here is the word “base” — like fans are all gathered a base camp awaiting their hero. Certainly, “fans” gets the point across and saves you one word. So I can see why this phrase would irritate some.
Be sure to check out the 2014 list with comments from its creators and their lists from previous years. It’s fun to see what they’ve suggested banning, and I mostly agree with their lists. LSSU also takes nominations of overused words and phrases all year long, so if you’ve got a word or phrase you’re sick of hearing, go ahead and nominate it for the next list!
What words were you glad to see on Lake Superior State University’s Banished Words list? What words would you like to add?