Words, suffixes officially banished for 2014

banished words - 2014

It’s here! The Lake Superior State University 2014 List of Banished Words. Selfie was recognized as the winning word, receiving the most nominations during the year. After that, the order of finish is not clear, as two overused suffixes (-ageddon, -pocalypse) were grouped. Ditto two sports terms (adversity, fan base).

As in past years, the LSSU list includes comments/reasons from those who submitted the words (submit here). This year’s winners (or losers, if you prefer):

  • selfie
  • twerk/twerking
  • hashtag
  • twittersphere
  • Mister Mom
  • t-bone
  • ______ on steroids
  • -ageddon
  • -pocalypse
  • intellectually/morally bankrupt
  • Obamacare
  • adversity
  • fan base

Selfie would be high on my personal list, but twerk/twerking would have to be Number One. I’d never heard the word (yes, I live in a cave) before Miley Cyrus did her vulgar routine at the VMA Awards, and now it inevitably produces a mental image of her disgusting behavior whenever I hear it. Hate the word. Hate Cyrus. Ugh, ugh, ugh!

I’d put twittersphere in the same class as blogosphere — silly and contrived, although of the two, it’s the more euphonious. Blog in all its forms is just plain ugly.

Yes, yes, do include the suffixes -ageddon (shouldn’t that be -mageddon?) and –pocalypse. Snowmageddon. Snowpocalypse. They were sort of clever the first time they were used, but once the media bandwagon starts rolling on something, there’s no stopping it.

Hashtag was a perfectly good alternate word for the pound symbol and the symbol has a specific purpose when used in tweets and elsewhere, but I flatly reject its use as a word in a conversation. Not that I’d ever be talking with anyone who speaks that way. “Did you see Sylvia’s new dress? Hashtag gross!”

The rest of the list strikes me as words that have been around for a number of years and were probably nominated by people who, for one reason or another, were just becoming aware of them. Or maybe somebody was just having a bad day.

The first banished list was issued on New Year’s Day 1976 as a publicity stunt for the little-known university. It turned into an annual event, with a new list released every January 1. Suggestions include pet peeves from everyday speech as well as from news, education, technology, advertising, politics and more, submitted throughout the year by people like me whose last nerve gets frayed by overused and misused words and phrases. A panel selects the top words in late December.

Last year’s list:

  • fiscal cliff
  • kick the can down the road
  • double down
  • job creators/creation
  • passion/passionate
  • YOLO (You Only Live Once)
  • spoiler alert
  • bucket list
  • trending
  • superfood
  • boneless wings
  • guru

I wrote more about past lists in This year’s banished words, phrases. 

15 comments

  1. If I’ve learned nothing else from my time online, it’s that my language skills leave a LOT to be desired. But there are those words / phrases that I find particularly annoying, like Obamacare and Hashtag. Does anyone really think the Affordable Care Act as passed even comes close to the president’s original intent? And what the heck does Hashtag even mean?!?!

    1. I know a hash tag is a symbol used in programming. My son has told me that. It’s also the “pound sign” on phone dials and keyboards. Used in tweets, it marks an item so it can be searched for by people looking for that topic. In conversation it’s sort of way to emphasize a word or to say “in other words.”

        1. Not so surprising. I’m retired, live alone, a hermit. If that means not hearing jelly used to mean “jealous” (Urban Dictionary to the rescue), I’m not sorry!

  2. Actually, I like the new word, “selfie”. While it’s true that people have been able to photograph themselves since the beginning of photography, it has only become common and convenient with the invention of the front-facing digital camera and image stabilization, and so the word captures a new cultural phenomenon. And, when the president and the pope both use it and do it, it’s here to stay.

    While LSSU has retained the caption, “banned”, their annual listing seems to celebrate new coinage more than discourage it, and who would have it differently? After all, it would be a stale world if words weren’t free to evolve. Not that there’s any option to it. Methinks Shakespeare would approve as well. 🙂

    On the other hand, I have to agree that the trends toward acronym-speak and the demise of cursive are alarming. Fortunately, good writing still survives in niches like the New Yorker and Time magazines, in the AP, and in selected blogs.

    1. It’s not so much the word selfie that bothers me as the act of taking and sending so many. It seems so … self-centered, for want of a better word. But not really being into cell phones, instagrams, tweets, etc., and never one to want my picture taken, I fail to see the point or need for selfies.

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