Every year Lake Superior State University, after accepting nominations all year, publishes its official list of banished words for the upcoming year. The banished words for 2015, with some of the accompanying comments:
“Meaning ‘before anyone else.’ How stupid! Stop calling your boyfriend ‘bae’.” — Evie Dunagan, Manheim, Penn.
“Less than a week into the new year and it’s the most overused, meaningless word in the media,” said Ross.
“This word is totally over-used and mis-used. What they really mean is ‘tip’ or ‘short cut,’ but clearly it is not a ‘hack,’ as it involves no legal or ethical impropriety or breach of security.” – Peter P. Nieckarz Jr., Sylva, N.C.
“Why use two words when one will do? We already have a perfectly good word in ‘skills’ (ending with an s, not a z).” – Chip Lupo, Columbia, S.C.
“Because I am tired of hearing swag to describe anything on the face of the planet. By the way, your website is so ‘swag.'” – Alex, Roanoke, Va.
“I crave good sleep, too, but that does not make me a sleepie. News flash: We ALL like food.” – Graydeon DeCamp, Elk Rapids, Mich.
curate / curated
“A pretentious way of saying ‘selected.’ It’s enormously overused.” – Kristi Hoerauf, San Francisco, Calif.
“A horrible word that conflates the real meaning of friendship with usually hidden motivations to get at the other person’s pockets.” – Mary Been, Sidnaw, Mich.
“Short-form for ‘crazy’ and sometimes just one ‘cra.’ I hear kids (including my 6 yr. old) saying it all the time, e.g. ‘That snowstorm yesterday was ‘cra-cra.'” – Esther Proulx, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
“A shameful euphemism for torture.” – David Bristol, Byron Center, Mich.
“It’s used all too frequently on news programs, as in, ‘What is your ‘takeaway’ on (a given situation.’ ‘What is our ‘takeaway’ on Congress’ vote?’ ‘Is there any ‘takeaway’ on the recent riots?’ I have heard Jon Stewart use it. I’ve heard Charlie Rose use it, as well as countless numbers of news talking heads, usually for all the wrong reasons. For me, a takeaway is a sports term, where one team is controlling the ball (or puck) and the other steals it, or took it away – a ‘takeaway.’ In the U.K., ‘takeaway’ food is known as ‘to go’ here in the Colonies. – John Prokop, Oakland, Calif.
“Nothing more self-aggrandizing than sport team fans referring to themselves as a nation! What’s next? My team – Continent, World, Galaxy, Universe!” – Curt Chambers, Seattle, Wash.
I’m not terribly impressed with this year’s list, which seems notably shorter than in past years (I say that without checking).
Only recently did I notice bae and decide to look it up (Urban Dictionary to the rescue!). Knowing what it means only makes me more determined to never use it. It’s one of those icky Hollywood celebrity type words that make me cringe.
Polar vortex is a legitimate meteorological term. And will continue to be. The problem lies with all the people who immediately started misusing it (and undoubtedly the first to do so were cable news anchors).
Yes, hack is overused and misused. It should be reserved for the specific computer-related activity to which it refers.
Skill set, curate, and enhanced interrogation are all pretentious words meant to disguise or elevate their actual meaning. Enhanced interrogation is particularly odious and has been around for far more than a year. It and the torture to which it refers should be banished from the planet.
Swag has changed so much that I don’t even pretend to know what it means now. The last time I used it, it meant the free stuff, samples, etc., you get at a business convention. I suppose that dates me by a few years.
I’ve heard foodie a lot the last few years, without ever really knowing exactly what it meant. I’d begun to think it was some special sort of food expert. How disappointing to learn it’s just someone who loves good food. If that’s all, then it definitely belongs on the list (and I’m definitely a foodie).
Friend-raising? I’ve never heard the term. No loss, apparently.
Cra-cra. Seriously? Wasn’t that on the list several years ago? It certainly should have been. To me it’s akin to fingernails on a blackboard. (I know, I know, it’s been chalkboard for years. So sue me.) And just for the record, it should be spelled cray -cray.
I hadn’t really noticed an overuse of takeaway, but now that it’s been mentioned, I’ll probably hear it every time I turn on the TV.
And finally, I have a major gripe with the way -nation is listed. It’s not a suffix! It’s not hyphenated. Packer nation, Sooner nation, etc. It’s a noun. That said, I’ve never minded it’s use … as long as it refers to my team. It does sound really silly when it refers to someone else’s team.
It’s not too soon to start submitting your nominations for next year’s list. At least make a note of the URL. It’s a great place to let off steam when somebody uses that word once too often and you are ready to explode.