Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The 2011 Banished Word List

You may have seen this Yahoo News article yesterday - "Words 'Viral' and 'Epic' Consigned to College Trash." Each year, Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, publishes a list of words and phrases that are so overused they have lost all true meaning, and should thus be unceremoniously chucked into the intellectual trash can.

This year's list, which you can read here on the LSSU website, includes the following 14 words:

Viral - I've never quite understood what it means for something to "go viral." Stupid and overused and - like real viruses - there seems to be no linguistic cure.

Epic - at one time, an "epic" was something special, like a Cecil B. DeMille movie. Now it's just another overused word, particularly in conjunction with the next word in the list...

Fail - this used to be a badge of shame, as when a student failed to achieve promotion to the next grade. Now, it's just a tacky term for something stupid, or something really stupid when it's an epic fail. Chuck it out.

Wow Factor - grossly overused. Doesn't mean a thing any more, even when applied to the effect generated by Scarlett Johanssen.

A-Ha Moment - why not just say "oh, that's clear now"? Stupid.

Back Story - we used to call it history, which is more concise and meaningful. If you aren't talking about your slipped discs, don't use it.

BFF - I think this means "best female friend," but I'm not sure. In any case, it's part of that useless collection of linguistic shortcuts brought to us by e-mail and short messaging services (I couldn't bring myself to write SMS).

Man Up - wrong on so many levels. Can a woman man up? Can a man woman up? In any case, the Political Correctness Police would tell you it should be person up. Let's just give up on it.

Refudiate - the fact that a useless political cipher like Sarah Palin coined it is enough to make me never say it again.

Mama Grizzlies - the only time this term should be used is in conjunction with a bad-tempered far-right-wing woman who doesn't shave her legs.

The American People - oh, come on! This is the term a Republican uses when he (or she) is trying to convince you that he (or she) has the full support and enthusiastic approval of all 300-odd million of us. Emphasis on the odd part.

I'm Just Sayin' - Perhaps you are, but I'm not. Forget it.

Facebook/Google (when used as verbs) - I don't so much mind Google used as a verb (I google things all the time), but Facebook as a verb? Really dumb.

Live Life to the Fullest - can someone live life to the emptiest? What a dumb expression. Just drop it.

Okay, I've had my quota of linguistic grumpiness for today. I'm just sayin' 'Nuff said.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, there are 171,476 words in common use in the English language, along with another 47,156 that are obsolete and yet another 9,500 derivative words ... plenty to choose from to replace the 14 on LSSU's 2011 Banished Word List.

Have a good day. Enjoy the love of words. More thoughts tomorrow.



Amanda said...

BFF is Best Friends Forever. Just as awful.

Raquel's World said...

Mama Grizzlies- Didn't Sarah Palin create that?

John said...

Mama Grizzlies - the only time this term should be used is in conjunction with a bad-tempered far-right-wing woman who doesn't shave her legs.

This one should stay--I think there are still plenty of opportunities to use it.

Gotfam said...

I didn't know that that is what Mama Grizzlies meant. Yikes. I know what "bear" means in the gay world...and this is no where near that. I learned something today.

Mike said...

Your epic post has a great wow factor. The American People will send this post viral and no one will refudiate it. I'm just sayin'.

BFF - Amanda's right but I like Best F*****g Friend.

KathyA said...

They forgot 'surreal'. I'm just sayin' :)

PS "American people" is redundant.

lacochran's evil twin said...

"It is what it is" should be added!