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Are there words in your language that you would like to never hear again?

Well, each year Lake Superior State University compiles a List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness for 2013.

Nominations for banned words can be made year-round for this list, which was first launched in 1976.

The list this year – with accompanying comments from nominators – can be seen below:

  • fiscal cliff – “Makes me want to throw someone over a real cliff”
  • kick the can down the road – “I would definitely like to kick some cans of the human variety every time I hear politicians use this phrase to describe a circumstance that hasn’t gone their way.”
  • double down – “The next time I see or hear the phrase, I am going to double over.”
  • job creators/creation – “One of the most overplayed buzz terms of the 2012 presidential campaign. Apparently ‘lowering unemployment’ doesn’t have the same impact.”
  • passion/passionate – “Diabetes is not just Big Pharma’s business, it’s their passion! This or that actor is passionate! about some issue somewhere. A DC lobbyist is passionate! about passing (or blocking) some proposed law. My passion! is simple: Banish this phony-baloney word.”
  • YOLO (You Only Live Once) – “Just gives people, especially teens, a reason to do stupid things.”
  • spoiler alert – “Used as an obnoxious way to show one has trivial information and is about to use it, no matter what.”
  • bucket list – “Getting this phrase on the Banished Word List is on my bucket list!”
  • trending – “I’m sick of chirpy entertainment commentators constantly informing us of what ‘is trending right now.’ I used to like a good trend until this.”
  • superfood – “It’s food. It’s either healthful or it’s not. There is no ‘super’ involved.”
  • boneless wings – “Can we just call them chicken (pieces)?”
  • guru – “Unless you’re teaching transcendental meditation, Hinduism or Buddhism, please don’t call yourself a guru just because you think you’re an expert at something. It’s silly and pretentious. Let other people call you that, if they must.”

Some of these words really do seem to be all we hear these days in the media, although I feel the words “passion/passionate” have been wronged. To have a passion for something is a great thing, however I would agree that to an extent it has been overused. As online communication becomes ever more popular the way in which words are used and how people view them can be mapped more easily. In fact one of the words on the list, “trending”, is the term for an aspect of social media which reveals not just what the general internet population finds interesting but also the words they are using. “YOLO” the evidently controversial acronym used to inspire a generation was one of these “trending” words and it shows how the many minds of today’s avid social media users work.

Looking back through the lists of past years it is interesting to see the words that have been nominated. In fact, in previous years there have also been suggestions of words which people felt should be restored to regular usage. One list that amused me in particular was that from 1978 when there were words on a “six-month embargo” because they were “not evil in themselves but [were] soiled by association.”

A glance at these lists is a glance back in time as you can see how the popularity of words changes from year to year – and how it can get heated when people disagree on usage!

Language is personal. What words do you think have been made redundant in the English language? How about in other languages?

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