Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Banned Words for 2008

Michigan's Lake Superior State University has released its annual "List of Words and Phrases Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness." Following is the 2008 list:

• perfect storm

A cliche plundered from the title of a book, this expression is overused on TV to mean just about any coincidence.

• Webinar


I've not heard this one, but it apparently is a seminar that takes place online.

• waterboarding

I don't know about you, but when I hear this, I think of surfing and water sports, not torture.

• organic


When misused to describe not only food, but computer products or human behavior, and when used to describe something as "natural".

• wordsmith/wordsmithing

A pretentious cliche for "writing"

• author/authored

When used as a verb. We don't say that an artist "paintered" a painting, so we shouldn't say that an author, "authored a new best seller".

• post 9/11


I'm long been against reducing this tragedy to a sound bite. We don't refer to the attack on Pearl Harbor as "12/7", so I don't see why we refer to the terrorist attacks as 9/11.

• surge

When used to refer to a military build-up. Storms surge, not armies

• give back


When used to refer to the more fortunate members of society performing acts of charity. It makes me want to ask, "What did they steal and who are they giving it back to?"

• `blank' is the new `blank'

As in "50 is the new 30". I wish!

• Black Friday

To refer to the day after Thanksgiving as the first shopping day for Christmas.

• back in the day


I have to admit I'm guilty of this one.

• random

Mainly teenage use, as in, "You are so random!" It's used out of context much in the same way teens say "awesome", which was on last year's list.

• sweet

One that I love to hate. Used mainly by teens to mean, "Great!" or "Wonderful" or the ever-ubiquitous, "Awesome".

• decimate

A common exaggeration. "Decimate" means to "reduce by one-tenth", but most who use it mean "nearly completely wiped out".

• emotional


Used in a vague fashion commonly by news reporters, "It was an emotional day when they lost their home in a fire". Instead of referencing actual emotions, such as "distraught", "stunned", and so on, they simply say "emotional" to refer to all emotions.

• pop

I've not heard this one, but it refers mainly to decorators who say such drivel as "the addition of the red really makes it POP." Bleargh.

• It is what it is

A meaningless phrase used to avoid actually answering a question. Heard mainly in sports.

• under the bus

I'm guilty of this one too, as it makes me laugh. But I agree that it's getting worn out.


I made several suggestions of my own for last year's list which you can read on my New Year's Day entry of last year. I've only got one new suggestion for 2008:

• Pony up


Meaning to contribute money, usually after some prodding. As in, "He ponied up 20 bucks to pay his share of the bar tab." This one should be stampeded to death by a herd of wild horses.

Feel free to add words or phrases you love to hate.

1 comment:

Kathy Frederick said...

I absolutely hate "webinar." It sounds stupid to say, but I don't know what else to call it. I had to mention a couple of them I "attended" in my recent performance appraisal. There's no other word that fits, but I still hate it! Glad you threw the list together. It was a fun read.