Banished Words

Since 1976 the Lake Superior State University has issued its annual list of banished words. Here is their introduction for the 2008 offering:

Lake Superior State University “maverick” word-watchers, fresh from the holiday “staycation” but without an economic “bailout” even after a “desperate search,” have issued their 34th annual List of Words to Be Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness. This year’s list may be more “green” than any of the previous lists and includes words and phrases that people from “Wall Street to Main Street” say they love “not so much” and wish to have erased from their “carbon footprint.”

Some examples from the current list:

  • Maverick [of course]
     “The constant repetition of this word for months before the US election diluted whatever meaning it previously had. Even the comic offshoot ‘mavericky’ was terribly overused. A minimum five-year banishment of both words is suggested so they will not be available during the next federal election.”
  • Bailout
    “Use of emergency funds to remove toxic assets from banks’ balance sheets is not a bailout. When your cousin calls you from jail in the middle of the night, he wants a bailout.”
  • Staycation
    “Occurrences of this word are going up with gas prices.’Vacation’ does not mean ‘travel,’ nor does travel always involve vacation. Let’s send this word on a slow boat to nowhere.”
  • Winner of Five Nominations
    “It hasn’t won an Academy Award yet. It has only been NOMINATED!”

Here are some random choices from previous years:

  • 1976: Implement and Viable – Gobbledygook disguised as intelligence: as in “that is not a viable alternative which we can implement.” Meaning: “We don’t want to do it and think you have a crazy idea here.”
  • 1985: Near miss – should be ‘near hit’ because it didn’t nearly miss, it actually did miss.
  • 2001: Negative growth – As opposed to positive shrinking. ‘Gifted’ from the world of “morons in three-piece suits trying to sugar-coat their incompetence”

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