The Words That Will Be Banished in 2013

The Atlantic
The Words That Will Be Banished in 2013
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The Words That Will Be Banished in 2013

The words themselves may change, but one thing is consistent year to year. People love to talk about the words they hate. Recently we compiled an entire dictionary of words that stuck in people's craw for one reason or another this year. Michigan's Lake Superior State University is on this bandwagon (in fact, maybe they sort of started it) and has issued their list of "Words to be Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness" for the 38th year in a row, reports the AP. Hooray!

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According to LSSU's Banished Word Facebook page, the list, which is made up of nominations sent in throughout the year, "dates back to Dec. 31, 1975, when former LSSU Public Relations Director Bill Rabe and some colleagues cooked up the whimsical idea to banish overused words and phrases from the language." Of course, none of these words have truly been banned, and even if they were, there's hardly a force in place to enforce their banishment. (Baby bump continues to rear its ugly head despite being on a previous year's list, for instance. Epic also thrives.) But we don't need more word cops; that's not the point. The point is word-snarking.

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So, what's on the list? You can probably guess, just as you can also guess, or know, that there are words that didn't make the terrible cut which people think should have. No worst words list is ever complete! Says one Facebook commenter, "When I didn't see literally on the list, I literally cried. Well, maybe I only figuratively cried, but I want to be dramatic." It's always the way with words, isn't it? Read on for what did make the final cut, and why:

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Fiscal cliff. This was the word that got the most nominations — surprise, surprise — because it was everywhere. "If Congress acts to keep the country from tumbling over the cliff, LSSU believes this banishment should get some of the credit," the school explains.

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Kick the can down the road. "Usually used in politics, this typically means that someone or some group is neglecting its responsibilities. This was seized upon during the current administration and is used as a cliché by all parties...Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Libertarians, Tories, Whigs, Socialists, Communists, Fashionistas…" said Mike Cloran of Cincinnati, Ohio, suggesting the banishment of the phrase to LSSU. 

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Double down. "It's not even colorful. Hit me!" explained Allan Ryan of Boston, Mass, with his nomination.

Job creators/creation. These buzzwords and phrases are simply meaningless, say the people. 

Passion/passionate. Say enthusiasm instead. 

YOLO. "I only live once, so I'd prefer to be able to do it without ever seeing YOLO again," said Brendan Cotter, of Grosse Pte. Park, Mich, suggesting the initialism be banished. Others pointed out that living once is fairly obvious, and therefore hardly needs its own pithy designation: "Who lives more than once?" asked P.P. of Los Angeles, Calif.

Spoiler alert. I think this is handy for reviews when not deployed ham-handedly, a fair warning that should be issued, but others disagree: "Used as an obnoxious way to show one has trivial information and is about to use it, no matter what," said Joseph Joly, Fremont, Calif, to LSSU. Tone here is important, I think.

Bucket list. Yes, this is horrible. "Getting this phrase on the Banished Word List is on my bucket list!" said Frederick Fish of Georgia.

Trending. "A trend is something temporary, thank goodness; however, it is not a verb, and I'm tired of news stations telling me what trite 'news' is 'trending,'" said Kyle Melton of White Lake, Mich.

Superfood. Falls prey to the old "what does this even mean?" question.

Guru. As a job title or designation of expertise, so obnoxious. 

Really, there's only one nomination on this list we have much beef with. Someone actually wants to ban Boneless Wings, suggesting instead that "we just call them chicken (pieces)?" I stand behind boneless wing for specificity and ease of eating. Chicken pieces are hardly the same thing.

But wait! We're not yet done with words, because if all goes well, we never will be. Stay tuned for the American Dialect Society's announcement of the Word of the Year, the first week in January, 2013. And stay tuned past that for more words we hate that will never grow old! (LSSU is already accepting submissions for 2014.)

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