LSSU Banished Words list, 2008

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Wed Jan 2 22:06:13 UTC 2008

I kind of like "authored." In this world of ghostwritten books, it serves a
useful purpose. To "author" a book is to claim the words as one's own,
regardless of whether or not one actually wrote them.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Baker, John
Sent: Wednesday, January 02, 2008 9:17 AM
Subject: Re: LSSU Banished Words list, 2008

        Once again, we see how effective a list like this can be at
obtaining publicity.  I think I am not alone in having no other knowledge of
Lake Superior State University.

        What I find most striking is the presence of several specific and
useful words on this list.  Webinar, waterboarding, surge (when used in
reference to the 2007 temporary increase in U.S. forces in Iraq), and Black
Friday are all needed terms for which there are no equally handy

        Their complaints on "give back," "emotional," and that old stand-by,
"decimate," just seem silly, while phrases like "X is the new Y" and "under
the bus" are fads that will run their course in any case.  But I am with
them on author/authored.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Benjamin Zimmer
Sent: Wednesday, January 02, 2008 11:33 AM
Subject: LSSU Banished Words list, 2008

***This year, in a gesture of humanitarian relief, the committee restores
"truthiness," banned on last year's list, to formal use. This comes after
comedians and late-night hosts were thrown under the bus and rendered
speechless by a nationwide professional writers' strike.
The silence is deafening.***

PERFECT STORM - "Overused by the pundits on evening TV shows to mean just
about any coincidence." - Lynn Allen, Warren, Michigan.

"I read that 'Ontario is a perfect storm,' in reference to a report on
pollution levels in the Great Lakes. Ontario is the name of one of the lakes
and a Canadian province. This guy would have me believe it's a hurricane.
It's time for 'perfect storm' to get rained out." - Bob Smith, DeWitt,

"Hands off book titles as cheap descriptors!" - David Hollis, Hamilton, New

WEBINAR - A seminar on the web about any number of topics.
"Ouch! It hurts my brain. It should be crushed immediately before it
spreads." - Carol, Lams, Michigan.

"Yet another non-word trying to worm its way into the English language due
to the Internet. It belongs in the same school of non-thought that brought
us e-anything and i-anything." - Scott Lassiter, Houston, Texas.

WATERBOARDING - "Let's banish 'waterboarding' to the beach, where it belongs
with boogie boards and surfboards." - Patrick K. Egan, Sault Ste. Marie,

ORGANIC - Overused and misused to describe not only food, but computer
products or human behavior, and often used when describing something as
"natural," says Crystal Giordano of Brooklyn, New York. Another advertising
gimmick to make things sound better than they really are, according to Rick
DeVan of Willoughby, Ohio, who said he has heard claims such as "My business
is organic," and computers having "organic software."

"Things have gone too far when they begin marketing T-shirts as organic." -
Michelle Fitzpatrick, St. Petersburg, Florida.

"'Organic' is used to describe everything, from shampoo to meat.
Banishment! Improperly used!" - Susan Clark, Bristol, Maine.

"The possibility of a food item being inorganic, i.e., not being composed of
carbon atoms, is nil." - John Gomila, New Orleans, Louisiana.

"You see the word 'organic' written on everything from cereal to dog food."
- Michael, Sacramento, California.

"I'm tired of health food stores selling products that they say are organic.
All the food we eat is organic!" - Chad Jacobson, Park Falls, Wisconsin.

WORDSMITH/WORDSMITHING - "I've never read anything created by a wordsmith -
or via wordsmithing - that was pleasant to read." - Emily Kissane, St. Paul,

AUTHOR/AUTHORED - "In one of former TV commentator Edwin Newman's books, he
wonders if it would be correct to say that someone 'paintered' a picture?" -
Dorothy Betzweiser, Cincinnati, Ohio.

POST 9/11 - "'Our post-9/11 world,' is used now, and probably used more,
than AD, BC, or Y2K, time references. You'd think the United States didn't
have jet fighters, nuclear bombs, and secret agents, let alone electricity,
'pre-9/11.'" - Chazz Miner, Midland, Michigan.

SURGE - "'Surge' has become a reference to a military build-up. Give me the
old days, when it referenced storms and electrical power." - Michael F.
Raczko, Swanton, Ohio.

"Do I even have to say it? I can't be the first one to nominate it...put me
in line. From Iraq to Wall Street to the weather forecast - 'surge'
really ought to recede." - Mike Lara, Colorado.

"This word came out in the context of increasing the number of troops in
Iraq. Can be used to explain the expansion of many things (I have a surge in
my waist) and it's use will grow out of control...The new Chevy Surge, just
experience the roominess!" - Eric McMillan, Mentor, Ohio.

GIVE BACK - "This oleaginous phrase is an emergency submission to the
2008 list. The notion has arisen that as one's life progresses, one
accumulates a sort of deficit balance with society which must be neutralized
by charitable works or financial outlays. Are one's daily transactions
throughout life a form of theft?" - Richard Ong, Carthage, Missouri.

"Various media have been featuring a large number of people who 'just want
to give back.' Give back to whom? For what?" - Curtis Cooper, Hazel Park,

'BLANK' is the new 'BLANK' or 'X' is the new 'Y' - In spite of statements to
the contrary, 'Cold is (NOT) the new hot,' nor is '70 the new 50.' The idea
behind such comparisons was originally good, but we've all watched them
spiral out of reasonable uses into ludicrous ones and it's now time to
banish them from use. Or, to phrase it another way, 'Originally clever
advertising is now the new absurdity!'" - Lawrence Mickel, Coventry,

"Believed to have come into use in the 1960s, but it is getting tired.
The comparisons have become absurd." - Geoff Steinhart, Sault Ste.
Marie, Michigan.

"'Orange is the new black.' '50 is the new 30.' 'Chocolate is the new sex.'
'Sex is the new chocolate.' 'Fallacy is the new truth.' - Patrick Dillon,
East Lansing, Michigan.

BLACK FRIDAY - "The day after Thanksgiving that retailers use to keep
themselves out of the 'red' for the year. (And then followed by
"Cyber-Monday.") This is counter to the start of the Great Depression's use
of the term 'Black Tuesday,' which signaled the crash of the stock market
that sent the economy into a tailspin. - Carl Marschner, Melvindale,

BACK IN THE DAY - "Back in the day, we used 'back-in-the-day' to mean
something really historical. Now you hear ridiculous statements such as
'Back in the day, people used Blackberries without Blue Tooth.'" - Liz
Jameson, Tallahassee, Florida.

"This one might've already made the list back in the day, which was a
Wednesday, I think." - Tim Bradley, Los Angeles, California.

RANDOM - Popular with teenagers in many places.
"Over-used and usually out of context, i.e. 'You are so random!'
Really? Random is supposed to mean 'by chance.' So what I said was by
chance, and not by choice?" - Gabriel Brandel, Farmington Hills, Michigan.

"Outrageous mis- and overuse, mostly by teenagers, i.e. 'This random guy,
singing this random song...It was so random.' Grrrrr." - Leigh, Duncan,
Galway, Ireland.

"Overuse on a massive scale by my fellow youth. Every event, activity and
person can be 'sooo random' as of late. Banish it before I go vigilante." -
Ben Martin, Adelaide, South Australia.

"How can a person be random?" - Emma Halpin, Liverpool, Merseyside, United

SWEET - "Too many sweets will make you sick. It became popular with the
advent of the television show 'South Park' and by rights should have died of
natural causes, but the term continues to cling to life.
It is annoying when young children use it and have no idea why, but it
really sounds stupid coming from the mouths of adults. Please kill this
particular use of an otherwise fine word." - Wayne Braver, Manistique,

"Youth lingo overuse, similar to 'awesome.' I became sick of this one
immediately." - Gordon Johnson, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

DECIMATE - Word-watchers have been calling for the annihilation of this one
for several years.

"Used today in reference to widespread destruction or devastation. If you
will not banish this word, I ask that its use be 'decimated'
(reduced by one-tenth)." - Allan Dregseth, Fargo, North Dakota.

"I nominate 'decimate' as it applies to Man's and Nature's destructive fury
and the outcome of sporting contests. Decimate simply means a 10% reduction
- no more, no less. It may have derived notoriety because the ancient Romans
used decimation as a technique for prisoner of war population reduction or
an incentive for under-performing battle units. A group of 10 would be
assembled and lots drawn. The nine losers would win and the winner would die
at the hands of the losers - a variation on the instant lottery game.
Perhaps 'creamed' or 'emulsified' should be substituted. - Mark Dobias,
Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

"The word is so overused and misused, people use it when they should be
saying 'annihilate.' It's so bad that now there are two definitions, the
real one and the one that has taken over like a weed.
- Dane, Flowery Branch, Georgia.

"'Decimate' has been turned upside down. It means 'to destroy one tenth,'
but people are using it to mean 'to destroy nine tenths.' - David Welch,
Venice, Florida.

EMOTIONAL - "Reporters, short on vocabulary, often describe a scene as
'emotional.' Well sure, but which emotion? For a radio reporter to gravely
announce, 'There was an emotional send off to Joe Blow' tells me nothing,
other than the reporter perceived that the participants acted in an
emotional way. For instance: I had an emotional day today.
I started out feeling tired and a bit grumpy until I had my coffee. I was
distraught over a cat killing a bird on the other side of the street. I was
bemused by my reaction to the way nature works. I was intrigued this evening
to add a word or two to your suggestions. I was happy to see the words that
others had posted. Gosh, this has been an emotional day for me." - Brendan
Kennedy, Quesnel, British Columbia, Canada.

POP - "On every single one of the 45,000 decorating shows on cable TV (of
which I watch many) there is at LEAST one obligatory use of a phrase such as
... 'the addition of the red really makes it POP.' You know when it's coming
... you mouth it along with the decorator. There must be some other way of
describing the addition of an interesting detail." - Barbara, Arlington,

IT IS WHAT IT IS - "This pointless phrase, uttered initially by athletes on
the losing side of a contest, is making its way into general use. It
accomplishes the dual feat of adding nothing to the conversation while also
being phonetically and thematically redundant." - Jeffrey Skrenes, St. Paul,

"It means absolutely nothing and is mostly a cop out or a way to avoid
answering a question in a way that might require genuine thought or insight.
Listen to an interview with some coach or athlete in big-time sports and
you'll inevitably hear it." - Doug Compo, Brimley, Michigan.

"It seems to be everywhere and pervade every section of any newspaper I
read. It reminds me of 'Who is John Galt?' from 'Atlas Shrugged.' It implies
an acceptance of the status quo regardless of the circumstances. But it is
what it is." - Erik Pauna, Mondovi, Wisconsin.

"Only Yogi Berra should be allowed to utter such a circumlocution." - Jerry
Holloway, Belcamp, Maryland.

"This is migrating from primetime 'reality television' and embedding itself
into otherwise articulate persons' vocabularies. Of course it is what it
is...Otherwise, it wouldn't be what it would have been!" - Steve Olsen,
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada.

UNDER THE BUS - "For overuse. I frequently hear this in the cliché-filled
sports world, where it's used to describe misplaced blame - i.e. 'After
Sunday's loss, the fans threw T.O. under the bus."
- Mark R. Hinkston, Racine, Wisconsin.

"Please, just 'blame' them." - Mike Lekan, Kettering, Ohio.

"Just wondering when someone saying something negative became the same as a
mob hit. Since every sportscaster in the US uses it, is a call for the media
to start issuing a thesaurus to everyone in front of a camera." - Mark
Bockhaus, Appleton, Wisconsin.

The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list