SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – After much twerking and gnashing of hashtags, the word-watchers at Lake Superior State University have released their 39th annual List of Words to be Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness.
The list, compiled from nominations sent to LSSU throughout the year, is released each year on New Year's Eve. It dates back to Dec. 31, 1975, when former LSSU Public Relations Director Bill Rabe and some colleagues cooked up the whimsical idea to banish overused words and phrases from the language. They issued the first list on New Year's Day 1976. Much to the delight of word enthusiasts everywhere, the list has stayed the course into a fourth decade.
Through the years, LSSU has received tens of thousands of nominations for the list, which is closing in on its 1,000th banishment.
This year's list is culled from nominations received mostly through the university's website, www.lssu.edu/banished. Editors of the list consider pet peeves from everyday speech, as well as from the news, fields of education, technology, advertising, politics and more. A committee makes a final cut in late December.
So, let's dispense with the selfies, come down from the twittersphere and T-bone this year's banish-pocalypse on steroids.
SELFIE — Has the honor of receiving the most nominations this year.
“People have taken pictures of themselves for almost as long as George Eastman's company made film and cameras. Suddenly, with the advent of smartphones, snapping a ‘pic’ of one's own image has acquired a vastly overused term that seems to pop up on almost every form of social media available to us….A self-snapped picture need not have a name all its own beyond ‘photograph.’ It may only be a matter of time before photos of one's self and a friend will become ‘dualies.’ LSSU has an almost self-imposed duty to carry out this banishment now.” --- Lawrence, Coventry, Conn. and Ryan, North Andover, Mass.
“Named ‘Word of the Year’ by Oxford Dictionary? Give me a break! Ugh, get rid of it.” – Bruce, Ottawa, Ont.
“Myselfie disparages the word because it's too selfie-serving. But enough about me, how about yourselfie?” – Lisa, New York, NY
“It's a lame word. It's all about me, me, me. Put the smartphone away. Nobody cares about you.” -- David, Lake Mills, Wisc.
Dayna of Rochester Hills, Mich., laments how many people observe “Selfie Sunday” in social media, and Josh of Tucson, Ariz., asks, “Why can’t we have more selflessies?”
TWERK/TWERKING — Another word that made the Oxford Dictionaries Online this year. Cassidy of Manheim, Penn. said, “All evidence of Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance must be deleted,” but it seems that many had just as much fun as Miley did on stage when they submitted their nominations.
“Let's just keep with ‘shake yer booty’ -- no need to ‘twerk’ it! Hi ho, hi ho, it’s away with twerk we must go.” – Michael, Haslett, Mich.
Bob of Tempe, Ariz. says he responds, “T’werk,” when asked where he is headed on Monday mornings.
“I twitch when I hear twerk, for to twerk proves one is a jerk -- or is at least twitching like a jerk. Twerking has brought us to a new low in our lexicon.” – Lisa, New York, NY
“Time to dance this one off the stage.” – Jim, Flagstaff, Ariz.
“The fastest over-used word of the 21st century.” – Sean, New London, NH.
“The newest dictionary entry should leave just as quickly.” – Bruce, Edmonton, Alb.
HASHTAG — We used to call it the pound symbol. Now it is seeping from the Twittersphere into everyday expression. Nearly all who nominated it found a way to use it in their entries, so we wonder if they’re really willing to let go. #goodluckwiththat
“A technical term for a useful means of categorizing content in social media, the word is abused as an interjection in verbal conversation and advertising. # annoying!” – Bob, Grand Rapids, Mich.
“Typed on sites that use them, that's one thing. When verbally spoken, hashtag-itgetsoldquickly. So, hashtag-knockitoff.” – Kuahmel, Gardena, Calif.
“Used when talking about Twitter, but everyone seems to add it to everyday vocabulary. #annoying #stopthat #hashtag #hashtag #hashtag .” – Alex, Rochester, Mich.
“It’s #obnoxious #ridiculous #annoying and I wish it would disappear.” – Jen, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
“#sickoftheword” -- Brian, Toronto, Ont.
TWITTERSPHERE — To which we advise, keep all future nominations to fewer than 140 characters.
“There cannot possibly be any oxygen there.” – Matt of Toledo, Ohio
MISTER MOM — The 30-year anniversary of this hilarious 1983 Michael Keaton movie seems to have released some pent-up emotions. It received nearly as many nominations as “selfie” and “twerk” from coast to coast in the U.S. and Canada, mostly from men.
“It was a funny movie in its time, but the phrase should refer only to the film, not to men in the real world. It is an insult to the millions of dads who are the primary caregivers for their children. Would we tolerate calling working women Mrs. Dad?” says Pat, of Chicago, who suggests we peruse the website captaindad.org, the manly blog of stay-at-home parenting.
“I am a stay-at-home dad/parent. And if you call me ‘Mr. Mom,’ I will punch you in the throat. – Zachary, East Providence, RI.
“Society is changing and no longer is it odd for a man to take care of his children. Even the Wall Street Journal has declared, "Mr. Mom is dead" (Jan. 22, 2013). I think it is time to banish it.” – Chad, St. Peters, Mo.
T-BONE — This common way of describing an automobile collision has now made it from conversation into the news reports. While the accident's layout does, indeed, resemble its namesake cut of beef, we'd prefer to dispense with the collateral imagery and enjoy a great steak.
“As in ‘crashed into another car perpendicularly.’ Making a verb out of a cut of beef?” - Kyle, White Lake, Mich.
_____ ON STEROIDS — New! Improved! Steroidal!
“Please, does the service at my favorite restaurant have to be ‘on steroids’ (even though the meat may be)?” -- Betsy, Los Angeles, Calif.
Many in advertising and in the news took two words – Armageddon and Apocalypse – and shortened them into two worn-out suffixes this year.
“Come on down, we’re havin’ car-ageddon, wine-ageddon, budget-ageddon, a sale-ageddon, flower-ageddon, and so-on-and-so-forth-ageddon! None of these appear in the Book of Revelations.” -- Michael, Haslett, Mich.
“Every passing storm or event is tagged as ice-ageddon or snow-pocalypse. There’s a limited supply of ...ageddons and ...pocalypses; I believe it’s one, each. When running out of cashews becomes nut-ageddon, it’s time to re-evaluate your metaphors.” -- Rob, Sellersville, Penn.
Politicians never fail to disappoint in providing fodder for the list.
INTELLECTUALLY/MORALLY BANKRUPT — Used by members of each political party when describing members of the other. Cal of Cherry Hill, NJ wonders, “Are there intellectual creditors?"
OBAMACARE — A wandering prefix (see 2010's "Obama-") finally settles down. We thought it might rival “fiscal cliff,” the most-nominated phrase on the 2013 list, but it didn’t come close.
“Because President Obama's signature healthcare law is actually called the Affordable Care Act. The term has been clearly overused and overblown by the media and by members of Congress.” – Ben of Michigan
“What more can I say?” – Jane, McKinney, Tex.
ADVERSITY — Heard often in the world of football.
“Facing adversity is working 50 hours a week and still struggling to feed your kids. Facing third and fifteen without your best receiver with tens of millions in the bank, is not.” -- Kyle, White Lake, Mich.
FAN BASE — Why use one word when apparently two are twice as better?
"From the world of sports comes the latest example of word inflation. What's wrong with the word ‘fans’?” - Paul, Canton, Mich.
Visit lssu.edu/banished to find out more about the list's history, browse almost 40 years of nominations and submit words and phrases you'd like to see banished. Check the compiled list to find out if your word or phrase has already been banished.
Lake Superior State University, overlooking the St. Marys River in Sault Ste. Marie, is Michigan's smallest public university with an enrollment of about 3,000 students. It is known for its academic programs such as fisheries and wildlife management, engineering, nursing, criminal justice, fire science and much more.