University releases annual list of overused, misused, useless ‘Banished Words’


LSSU offers their annual List of Banished Words (Image courtesy MGN Online).

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mi. (WEHT) — The wordsmiths at Lake Superior State University (LSSU) have released their 45th annual List of Words they say should be banished for mis-use, over-use… and general uselessness.

The Word Banishment tradition, created by a former public relations director at the university, is now in its fifth decade.

Every year since 1976, LSSU has issued the list.

The staff has come up with this year’s list of words and phrases that people love to hate, consisting of nominations received from around the world throughout the year.

Through the years, LSSU has received tens of thousands of nominations for the list, which now includes more than a thousand entries.

This year’s list is culled from nominations received mostly through the university’s website.

Word-watchers target pet peeves from everyday speech, as well as from the news, fields of education, technology, advertising, politics and more.

The Most Nominated Word or Phrase for 2020

Quid pro quo: This phrase received the most nominations this year, with a noticeable spike in November.

Words that Attempt to Make Something More than It Is

Artisanal: One nominator described this word as an “obfuscation,” describing an “actual person doing something personal for another unknown person.”

Curated: Like “artisanal,” this seems to be another attempt at making something more than it is, especially when used in reference to social media (or Banished Words Lists).

Influencer: According to Urban Dictionary, “A word Instagram users use to describe themselves to make them feel famous and more important when no one really know who they are or care.”

Words Banished for Pretentiousness or Imprecision

Literally: Surprisingly, this word hasn’t already been banished, but here it is, one of the few words in English that has begun to serve as its own antonym. Many of the nominators cite this word’s use for figurative expressions or emphasis, which is literally annoying.

Living my best life: The committee very much enjoys exercising its authority in banishing words annually–literally the capstone of our year–but as Eric says, apart from reincarnation, are there “options for multiple lives”?

Mouthfeel: A word used by foodies to describe the texture of food or drink in the mouth, which the committee feels should be banished entirely from food reality TV shows. As one nominator asks, “Where else, exactly, would you like to touch your food or beverage?” This one just doesn’t feel right in the mouth.

Chirp:  This one is a new insult for the non-millennials on the committee. Before we get chirped for being out of touch, one nominator suggests, why don’t we leave it to the birds?

Jelly: An abbreviation of “jealous,” the committee agrees with the nominator of this word who suggested that it’s better left for toast.

Totes: Another abbreviation, this time of “totally.” Totes overused.

Vibe/vibe check: A new use of the 60s term, “good vibes.”

OK, Boomer: This phrase caught on late this year on the Internet as a response from millennials to the older generation. Boomers may remember, however, that generational tension is always present. In fact, it was the Boomers who gave us the declaration: “Don’t trust anyone over 30!”

For more information on this year’s list of Banished Words, or to nominate, click here.

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(This story was originally published on January 2, 2020)

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