Banned Words

Grant Barrett gbarrett at AMERICANDIALECT.ORG
Wed Jan 5 17:35:32 UTC 2000

>From Lake Superior University at

Following is the entirety of the 2000 Banished Words List

Millennium -- and the variations: 'the next millennium,' 'the new millennium,' 'into the next millennium,' 'millennium bug.' "It is the convenient topic for every graduation speech, every excuse to renew or to do anything," said Lois Linnert of New York, NY. "It's been attached to every promotion, ad, event that you can think of," said Dave of Duluth, Minn. Kevin Chu of Cupertino, Calif. said it goes hand-in-hand with the hype of Y2K, and Elaine Gosling of London, England, said, "If I wanted to be really grumpy I could point out that the millennium is not a moment which occurs at the end of the year, but a full thousand years!"

24/7 -- "24/7 is designed to make stressed people feel even more stressed. Although it sounds somewhat biblical, 24/7 refers instead to consumer demand for full service, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, something only a newborn should be allowed to request," said Kate Rabe Forgach of Sausalito, Calif. "It seems to be in keeping with the 'iconification' of our language, in which we exaggerate our achievements and abbreviate our terms," said David Tranter of Thunder Bay, Ont. Kari Jastorff of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. echoed the sentiments of many who nominated this expression: "Yeck!"

Know What I'm Sayin'? -- (and variations, 'You know what I mean?' and 'You see what I'm sayin'?') - "This phrase is repeated like a nervous tic by some people even after the most simple or obvious statement," said Joe Szymanski of Baltimore, MD. "It's likely I don't (know what they're sayin')," said Len Nelson of Green Bay, Wisc.

Thinking Outside the Box -- "Another overused phrase that unimaginative people use when they want to sound creative," said Kevin Dunseath of Calgary, Alb.

'E'-Anything -- "Once it was the second vowel of the alphabet, now it's the base of the language of technology...Maybe e-commerce is the future, but e-tailers, e-trade and e- communication are all E-grad cliches," said Allison Woodworth of E. Lansing, Mich. "If "e' stands for electronic, what the heck is electronic-tailing? Sounds like something a '90s Columbo would do," - Kevin Dunseath, Calgary, Alb. "Why not e-mediately for an online news site?" - Kate Rabe Forgach, Sausalito, Calif. "E-nough is e-nough!" - Emma Sams, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

Cybarian -- Another symptom of our electronic age. Proud librarian Cindy Dobrez of Grand Haven, Mich., said she can't understand why librarians need to rename themselves every time a new information resource becomes available. "Add a few filmstrip kits to a library and all of a sudden you must be a 'media specialist.' Now, with the Internet, some feel the need to be called 'cybarians.' Librarians help people find and use information in whatever format it is delivered."

It's All Good -- Similar to 'win-win,' banished in 1993. "Apparently applicable to almost any situation and meant to fill the same niche for American youth as *no worries' does for Australians. If I hear any of my employees use it, they will be fired." - Zachariah Love, Hollywood, Calif. "If the speaker is talking about a huge chocolate dessert buffet, then it is 'all good.'" - Cathy Cruz, from Wilf Smyth's class in Stratford Central Secondary School, Stratford, Ont.

Road Rage -- Nominated by David Newman of WJR-AM, Detroit, and Carrie Zollner, of Rochester, Mich., who said, "It's an over-used excuse for driving like a maniac."

Segue -- "Originally a musical term, now used in everyday speech. It's just pompous and pretentious," said Ken Scholz of Naperville, Ill. "Everyone is using it, even when inappropriate: 'Excuse me while I segue into another topic." - Karen of Ballwin, Missouri. "If I hear one more person on TV say this, I will throw up." - Joanne Smith, Lincoln, Nebraska.

First Annual -- Escaped banishment with 'first time ever' in 1982. "One might hope his event becomes an annual occurrence, but until the second year, it isn't annual! Use inaugural, premiere, debut, or first." - Amy Carter, Indianapolis, Ind.

Issues -- Everyone seems to have a bad case of 'issues' this year, along with influenza. It's a strange way of saying that something is bothering someone. "If people could no longer say it, they would be forced to articulate just what it is that is bothering them." - Leonard L. Schakel, Lakeland, Minn. "Why must we all have 'issues' to deal with? It's vague, undefined and typically used in the wrong context." - Rhonda Kitter, Anchorage, Alaska.

>From Politics:

Quality of Life -- As in, 'This is a quality of life issue!' "This political platform or non- platform is making its way into candidacies >from municipal courts to the presidency," said Ron Statler of Fresno, Calif.

For the Children -- Overused by politicians, said John Dunlap of Westland, Mich. "We must cut spending or raise taxes or limit any behavior or pass any law or go to the moon or ban guns....for the children."

At Risk -- We're all 'at risk' of being offended by this overused, misused phrase. "It apparently means 'high risk' without specifying the degree or nature of the risk," said Calvin Baker of Elmira, Mich. "Everyone is 'at risk' of something."

Sea Change -- Used to mean a 'dramatic change' or a 'groundswell of support.' According to Webster's, it is an archaic term that really means "a change brought about by the sea."

Wake-Up Call -- Not limited to late-sleepers in hotels, anymore, 'wake-up call' is used to mean 'a warning,' as in, 'This incident sends a wake-up call to Americans who haven't been paying attention to quality-of-life issues for the at-risk children." Both 'sea change' and 'wake-up call' were nominated by many folks, including listeners of David Newman's radio show on WJR in Detroit.

>From the World of Sports:

Came to Play -- "When referring to sports teams or team members doing well, as in 'The Wings came to play.' What else would they be doing?" - Ron Elliott, Leamington, Ont.

Flat-Out -- When used as an adverb. "It's overused by sports analysts, i.e. 'He can flat-out play/run/throw.'" - Russell Bowlus, Davis, Calif.

True Freshmen -- "As opposed to a false or three-year freshman, or what?" - Barry Campbell, Luther, Mich. "In my 76 years, I have yet to see a false freshman." - Thaddeus Poprawa, Fraser, Mich.

Verbing of Innocent Nouns:

To Action -- "When we were delegating projects at a marketing meeting, I was asked if I could 'action' a particular item on the list, meaning, could I take care of it?' I think the problem started when 'action items' became a popular way of describing high priority tasks." - Deborah Guyer, Cranford, NJ.

To Transition -- It started in business and, much like 'down-sizing,' it's often used to hide an ugly fact, said Julio Vega of San Jose, Calif. For example, 'Unit H is transitioning away from the company,' means the department is being closed. "What's wrong with *make a transition'?" asks Celia Smith of Atlanta, Georgia.

To Solution -- Another from the business. Maybe the e-business world. Pam Derringer of Marblehead, Mass., said software companies are guilty of starting it. Pete Eckholm of Rochester, Minn. said, "In today's business world, everyone is solutioning a problem rather than solving it."

To Summit -- Widely used when talking about adventurers climbing to the top of a mountain, i.e. "The party hopes to summit Mt. Everest tomorrow." - sent via e-mail from P. Haddox.

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