Banished words for 2012

Each year Lake Superior State University composes its “List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness.”  These are words that are overused in everyday conversations or in the media. Some of 2012’s banished words or phrases include:

  • amazing
  • occupy
  • thank you in advance
  • the new normal
  • ginormous

What do you think of this year’s list?  What words do you think should be/shouldn’t have been included?

Later in the term we’ll discuss why we should avoid using cliches and buzzwords in our professional communication.



Filed under Language

5 responses to “Banished words for 2012

  1. John T.

    I have some strong feelings toward this article. I certainly feel it’s important to note how slang and popular “cliche” words can impact your interactions with others, but English in particular has such far-reaching differences that I can’t take this list of “banished” words seriously. Canadians have stylistic differences unique only to them. Common Canadian English conversations would be different from common American, British, Australian, or any other part of the world where English is commonly spoken. You could also argue that there are different slang words or nuances in western versus eastern Canadian speech. Different regions of the world are exposed to different media. I can use myself as an example here; I haven’t heard eight (out of a total of twelve) of their banished words. I’ve not heard them on television, in the paper, or in casual conversation. I feel I’m exposed to enough media that I’m qualified enough to say something like that.

    If you read those nominations, you’ll notice that most of them are written by American residents. LSSU doesn’t command respect of the world to take a fair global vote of what words to “banish”; that’s the rub of all this. Every English speaking region is going to have differences; declaring this list doesn’t hold a lot of meaning to me, seeing as how I could agree with only two or three of these overused/misused words.

  2. John, you’re absolutely right. This is a list produced by an American institution, so there will be some cultural differences at play here. I think LSSU generates their list from reader submissions, so that’s another issue to consider, in terms of which words are included.

    I mainly posted this link in jest, because it’s fun to think of annoying words we hear every day (though I’m definitely *not* in favor of banishing anything that’s language-related. Well, maybe the cliche “outside the box”).

    What are some words that you would add to a metaphorical Canadian Banished Words list? 🙂

    • John T.

      Here’re some bad ones I hear (which aren’t necessarily unique to Canada). Note that I’m pretty guilty of using a lot of these, so by no means do I want to put myself up on a pedestal.

      “Like”. Like, when you like, keep like, using this in like, ALL of your sentences? I’m guilty of using “Like” as a filler too. I need to eliminate that if I don’t want to sound -like- a teenager anymore.

      “Freezing”. No sir, you’re only cold, not frozen or freezing. Stop exaggerating, and wear more winter clothes.

      “Literally”. If someone is saying “Like” a lot, I bet they’d follow that up with “Literally” just to make sure that whoever they’re talking to, really gets the point.

      “Nice”. I’m pretty guilty of abusing this word, but make no mistake, it should be up there. One random fellow shares a success story with his circle of friends. By male convention, he is entitled to something along the lines of “Dude, nice!” and gratuitous amounts of high-fives.

      “Whatever”. I sure couldn’t give you a dictionary definition of this word. All that comes to my mind is angsty teenager apathy.

      “I’m a people person”. This phrase makes no sense to me. To be a “people person” supposedly means you enjoy and excel at interacting with other human beings. This isn’t a skill you should flaunt, it’s more like a prerequisite to living in modern society.

      A couple others which are brought about by internet media (and so, I guess not unique to Canada): “Fail”. and “Epic”. Sometimes those are used together (much to my disgust). Both of those words originated in “Gamer speak”. Now, someone has a “fail” haircut, or someone’s performance on an exam was just “epic”. I’m a gamer too, it grates on my nerves if I hear these in conversation.

  3. Keith

    If I’m not mistaken, when a university bans words they are creating a list of words that will be marked incorrect in someones writing. I kind of like this style. Colloquial phrases are improper etiquette in essays and formal documents, so I find it a good idea to teach this practice.

    • Hi Keith,

      I think this list by LSSU is meant to be more tongue-in-cheek than an actual banning of words. But, you’re right — it’s best to avoid these kinds of colloquial phrases in professional/formal types of contexts.


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