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."
As in "environmentally friendly". This includes "Green" and all of its variations, such as 'going green,' 'building green,' 'greening,' 'green technology,' 'green solutions' and more, drew the most attention from those who sent in nominations this year.
"This spawned 'green solutions,' 'green technology,' and the horrible use of the word as a verb, as in, 'We really need to think about greening our office.'" Mike McDermott of Philadelphia said.
CARBON FOOTPRINT or CARBON OFFSETTING –
"It is now considered fashionable for everyone, tree hugger or lumberjack alike, to pay money to questionable companies to 'offset' their own 'carbon footprint.' What a scam! Get rid of it immediately!" Ginger Hunt, London, England said.
Mike of Chicago says that when he hears the phrase 'carbon footprint,' "I envision microscopic impressions on the surface of the earth where an atom of carbon forgot to wear its shoes."
Christy Loop of Woodbridge, Va., says that 'leaving a carbon footprint' has become the new 'politically incorrect.' "How can we not, in one way or another, affect our natural environment?"
"The constant repetition of this word for months before the US election diluted whatever meaning it previously had. Even the comic offshoot 'mavericky' was terribly overused.
"You know it's time to banish this word when even the Maverick family, who descended from the rancher who inspired the term, says it's being mis-used." Scott Urbanowski, Kentwood, Mich.When I heard this term all through the election, my first thought was of the junky car model made by Ford during the 70s.
FIRST DUDE –
"Skateboard English is not an appropriate way to refer to the spouse of a high-ranking public official." Paul Ruschmann, Canton, Mich. said.
Yeah, First Redneck would have been more appropriate in this instance.
"Use of emergency funds to remove toxic assets from banks' balance sheets is not a bailout. When your cousin calls you from jail in the middle of the night, he wants a bailout." Ben Green, State College, PA said.
I tend to visualize someone in a leaky rowboat with a bucket trying to get rid of the water, myself when I hear this one
WALL STREET/MAIN STREET --
"The recent and continuing financial failings are not limited to 'Wall Street,' nor should one paint business, consumers, and small investors as ' Main Street .' Topeka (where I work), and Lawrence (where I live), Kansas, have no named ' Main Street .' How tiresome." Kent McAnally, Topeka, KS. said.
"I am so tired of hearing about everything affecting ' Main Street .' I know that with the 'Wall Street' collapse, the comparison is convenient, but really, let's find another way to talk about everyman or the middle class, or even, heaven forbid, 'Joe the Plumber.'" Stacey, Knoxville, Tenn.
It didn't take long for this one to become trite.
Internet and texting blues
"Especially on the Internet, many people seem to think they can make any boring name sound more attractive just by adding the word 'monkey' to it. Do a search to find the latest. It is no longer funny." Rogier Landman, Somerville, Mass.
I've not run across this one until reading this list.
Supposed to resemble a heart, or stand for the word 'love.' Used when sending those important text messages to loved ones. "Just say the word instead of making me turn my head sideways and wondering what 'less than three' means." Andrea Estrada, Chicago.
I hate this one with a passion. I've seen it on people's blogs and it always perplexed me. I'd like "WHAT is less than three?" The heart thing never occurred to me.
Overuse in news and entertainment
ICON or ICONIC –
Overused, especially among entertainers and in entertainment news." "Everyone and everything cannot be 'iconic.' Can't we switch to 'legendary' or 'famous for'? In our entertainment-driven culture, it seems everyone in show business is 'iconic' for some reason or another. "John Flood, Bray, Wicklow, Ireland said.
"It's becoming the new 'awesome' - overused to the point where everything from a fast-food restaurant chain to celebrities is 'iconic.'" Jodi Gill, New Berlin, WI said.
GAME CHANGER –
"It's game OVER for this cliché, which gets overused in the news media, political arenas and in business." Cynthia, Mt. Pleasant, MI said.
Yeah, we need a channel changer for game changer.
"Occurrences of this word are going up with gas prices.'Vacation' does not mean 'travel,' nor does travel always involve vacation. Let's send this word on a slow boat to nowhere." Dan Muldoon, Omaha, NE said.
Well, to be technical, the word "vacation" comes from the root word, "vacate", which means to leave one's current location, so, yeah, "vacation" does imply travel. And I've never come across the word "staycation" except in language rant articles.
DESPERATE SEARCH –
"Every time the news can't find something intelligent to report, they start on a 'desperate search' for someone, somewhere." Rick A. Hyatt, Saratoga, WY said.
NOT SO MUCH –
"I wish that the phrase was used not so much," says Tom Benson of Milwaukee, who notes that it is used widely in news media, especially in sports, i.e. 'The Gophers have a shot at the playoffs; the Chipmunks, not so much.'
"A favorite of snarky critics and bloggers." Jeff Baenen of Minneapolis said.
WINNER OF FIVE NOMINATIONS –
"It hasn't won an Academy Award yet. It has only been NOMINATED!" John Bohenek, Abilene, Tex.
Yeah, There's no "winning" involved if someone is but one of a group of nominees for an award. The winner is the winner, not the nominees.
IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN –
Nominated by Kathleen Brosemer of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., for "general overuse and meaninglessness. When is it not 'that time of year again?' From Valentine's sales to year-end charity letters, invitations to summer picnics and Christmas parties, it's 'that time' of year again. Just get to the point of the solicitation, invitation, and newsletter and cut out six useless and annoying words."
I have two nominations to this year's list:
Used to indicate a limited worldview or perception. As in, "She must be living in a bubble", to mean "She's living in her own little world."
I recently heard a talk radio host opine that since the election that Barack Obama has been "trapped in a media bubble".
Urgh. Someone needs to pop this particular use of bubble.
This one is on my list of "weasel words; that is, a pretentious word in which a simpler, more direct synonym exists.
I see "proffer" in novels quite often, though I've never in my entire life heard someone used it in conversation. I'm not even sure how to pronounce it. My mind reads "pro offer", as opposed to "amateur offer", but I'm suspecting it's merely said like its more common synonym "offer" with the "pr" sound in front of it.
So, why not simply say "offer" instead? It's a perfectly good word, along with the verb "hand", another synonym that "proffer" often is used for.
To see their lists from previous years: