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Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, January 1st, 2023

Banished Words for 2023

Every year since 1976, Michigan’s Lake Supe­ri­or State Uni­ver­si­ty has released a thought­ful and humor­ous “List of Words Ban­ished from the Queen’s Eng­lish for Mis­use, Overuse and Gen­er­al Use­less­ness”. Here is the 2023 (and forty-eighth annu­al) edi­tion, for your read­ing enjoy­ment on this New Year’s Day:

GOAT — The acronym for Great­est of All Time gets the goat of peti­tion­ers and judges for overuse, mis­use, and use­less­ness. “Applied to every­one and every­thing from ath­letes to chick­en wings,” an objec­tor declared. “How can any­one or any­thing be the GOAT, any­way?” Records fall; time con­tin­ues. Some sprin­kle GOAT like table salt on “any­one who’s real­ly good.” Anoth­er word­smith: iron­i­cal­ly, “goat” once sug­gest­ed some­thing unsuc­cess­ful; now, GOAT is an indis­crim­i­nate flaunt.

INFLECTION POINT — Math­e­mat­i­cal term that entered every­day par­lance and lost its orig­i­nal mean­ing. This year’s ver­sion of “piv­ot,” ban­ished in 2021. “Chron­ic throat-clear­ing from his­to­ri­ans, jour­nal­ists, sci­en­tists, or politi­cians. Its ubiq­ui­ty has dri­ven me to an inflec­tion point of throw­ing soft objects about when­ev­er I hear it,” a quip­ster recount­ed. “Inflec­tion point has reached its sat­u­ra­tion point and point of depar­ture,” pro­claimed anoth­er. “Pre­ten­tious way to say turn­ing point.” Overuse and misuse.

QUIET QUITTING — Trendy but inac­cu­rate. Not an employ­ee who incon­spic­u­ous­ly resigns. Instead, an employ­ee who com­pletes the min­i­mum require­ments for a posi­tion. Some nom­i­na­tor rea­sons: “nor­mal job per­for­mance,” “fan­cy way of say­ing ‘work to rule,’” “noth­ing more than com­pa­nies com­plain­ing about work­ers refus­ing to be exploit­ed,” “it’s not a new phe­nom­e­non; it’s burnout, ennui, bore­dom, dis­en­gage­ment.” On the precipice for next year’s Ban­ished Words List as well for ongo­ing mis­use and overuse.

GASLIGHTING — Nom­i­na­tors are not crazy by argu­ing that overuse dis­con­nects the term from the real con­cern it has iden­ti­fied in the past: dan­ger­ous psy­cho­log­i­cal manip­u­la­tion that caus­es vic­tims to dis­trust their thoughts, feel­ings, mem­o­ries, or per­cep­tion of real­i­ty. Oth­ers cit­ed mis­use: an incor­rect catchall to refer gen­er­al­ly to con­flict or dis­agree­ment. It’s too obscure of a ref­er­ence to begin with, avowed sundry crit­ics, allud­ing to the 1938 play and 194044 movies.

MOVING FORWARD — Mis­use, overuse, and use­less­ness. “Where else would we go?” won­dered a sage — since we can’t, in fact, trav­el back­ward in time. “May also refer to ‘get my way,’ as in, ‘How can we move for­ward?’ Well, guess what? Some­times you can’t,” anoth­er wit stat­ed. Politi­cians and boss­es often wield it for “seman­tic legit­i­ma­cy” of self-inter­est, eva­sion, or disin­gen­u­ous­ness. Its next of kin, “going for­ward,” ban­ished in 2001, also received votes.

AMAZING [RE-BANISHED] — “Not every­thing is amaz­ing; and when you think about it, very lit­tle is,” a dis­senter explained. “This glo­ri­ous word should be reserved for that which is daz­zling, mov­ing, or awe-inspir­ing,” to para­phrase anoth­er, “like the divine face of a new­born.” Ini­tial­ly ban­ished for mis­use, overuse, and use­less­ness in 2012. Its cycli­cal return man­dates fur­ther nix­ing of the “gener­ic,” “banal and hol­low” mod­i­fi­er — a “worn-out adjec­tive from peo­ple short on vocabulary.”

DOES THAT MAKE SENSE? — Sub­mit­ters reject­ed the desire, per­haps demand, for clar­i­fi­ca­tion or affir­ma­tion as filler, inse­cu­ri­ty, and pas­sive aggres­sion. “Why say it, if you must ask? It just doesn’t make sense!” tsk-tsked one. In this call for reas­sur­ance or act of false mod­esty, enquir­ers warp respon­dents into “co-con­spir­a­tors,” deduced anoth­er. Needy, schem­ing, and/or cyn­i­cal. Let me be clear, judges opined: Always make sense; don’t think aloud or play games! Mis­use, overuse, and uselessness.

IRREGARDLESS — Sleuth con­fes­sion: “It makes my hair hurt.” As well it should—because it’s not a word. At most, it’s a non­stan­dard word, per some dic­tio­nar­ies. “Regard­less” suf­fices. Oppo­nents dis­qual­i­fied it as a dou­ble neg­a­tive. One con­veyed that the pre­fix “ir” + “regard­less” = redun­dan­cy. “Take ‘regard­less’ and dress it up for empha­sis, show­cas­ing your com­mand of nonex­is­tent words,” exco­ri­at­ed an exas­per­at­ed cor­re­spon­dent, adding, “Why isn’t this on your list?” Misuse.

ABSOLUTELY [RE-BANISHED] — Ban­ished in 1996, but deserves a repeat nope giv­en its overuse. Usurped the sim­ple “yes,” laments a con­trib­u­tor. Anoth­er con­demned it as “the cur­rent default to express agree­ment, endem­i­cal­ly present on TV in one-on-one inter­views.” Fre­quent­ly “said too loud­ly by annoy­ing peo­ple who think they’re bet­ter than you,” bemoaned an aggriev­ed observ­er. “Sounds like it comes with a guar­an­tee when that may not be the case,” cau­tioned a wary watchdog.

IT IS WHAT IT IS [RE-BANISHED] — Ban­ished in 2008 for overuse, mis­use, and use­less­ness: “point­less,” “cop-out,” “Only Yogi Berra should be allowed to utter such a cir­cum­lo­cu­tion.” Its resur­gence prompt­ed these insights: “Well, duh.” “No kid­ding.” “Of course it is what it is! What else would it be? It would be weird if it wasn’t what it wasn’t.” “Tau­tol­ogy.” “Adds no val­ue.” “Ver­bal crutch.” “Excuse not to deal with real­i­ty or accept respon­si­bil­i­ty.” “Dis­mis­sive, bor­der­line rude.”

Here is LSSU’s press release announc­ing the list:

Sault Ste. Marie, MI — Stop resort­ing to impre­cise, trite, and mean­ing­less words and terms of seem­ing con­ve­nience! You’re tak­ing the lazy way out and only con­fus­ing mat­ters by over-rely­ing on inex­act, stale, and inane communication!

Lan­guage mon­i­tors across the coun­try and around the world decried the decrepi­tude and futil­i­ty of basic meth­ods to impart infor­ma­tion in their mock-seri­ous entries for Lake Supe­ri­or State University’s annu­al tongue-in-cheek Ban­ished Words List. LSSU announces the results of the year­ly com­pendi­um on Dec. 31 to start the New Year on the right foot, er, tongue.

The vast major­i­ty of the 1,500-plus nom­i­na­tions of words and terms for ban­ish­ment for mis­use, overuse, and use­less­ness for 2023 rev­eled and wal­lowed in the ero­sion of fun­da­men­tal expression.

Ranked No. 1 as the best of the worst: GOAT, acronym for Great­est of All Time. The many nom­i­na­tors didn’t have to be physi­cists or gram­mar­i­ans to deter­mine the lit­er­al impos­si­bil­i­ty and tech­ni­cal vague­ness of this wannabe superlative.

Yet it’s bestowed on every­one from Olympic gold medal­ists to Jeop­ardy! cham­pi­ons, as one muck­rak­er play­ful­ly deplored. Mean­while, oth­er naysay­ers remarked on social media posts that bran­dish a pho­to of, for instance, mul­ti­ple crick­et play­ers or soc­cer stars with a cap­tion about sev­er­al GOATs in one frame.

“Words and terms mat­ter. Or at least they should. Espe­cial­ly those that stem from the casu­al or causal. That’s what nom­i­na­tors near and far noticed, and our con­test judges from the LSSU School of Arts and Let­ters agreed,” said Peter Szat­mary, exec­u­tive direc­tor of mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Lake State.

“They ver­i­ta­bly bleat­ed their dis­ap­proval about the attempt­ed non­pareil of GOAT because the sup­posed des­ig­na­tion becomes an actu­al mis­nomer. The sin­gu­lar­i­ty of ‘great­est of all time’ can­not hap­pen, no way, no how. And instead of being selec­tive­ly admin­is­tered, it’s read­i­ly con­ferred. Remem­ber Grou­cho Marx’s line about not want­i­ng to join a club that would accept him as member?

“The nine addi­tion­al words and terms ban­ished for 2023—from new no-nos ‘inflec­tion point’ at No. 2 and ‘gaslight­ing’ at No. 4 to repeat offend­ers ‘amaz­ing’ at No. 6 and ‘It is what it is’ at No. 10—also fall some­where on the spec­trum between spe­cious and tired. They’re emp­ty as balder­dash or dilut­ed through over­sat­u­ra­tion. Be careful—be more care­ful — with buzz­words and jargon.”

LSSU has com­piled an annu­al Ban­ished Words List since 1976, and lat­er copy­right­ed the con­cept, to uphold, pro­tect, and sup­port excel­lence in lan­guage by encour­ag­ing avoid­ance of words and terms that are over­worked, redun­dant, oxy­moron­ic, clichéd, illog­i­cal, non­sen­si­cal — and oth­er­wise inef­fec­tive, baf­fling, or irritating.

Over the decades, Lake State has received tens of thou­sands of nom­i­na­tions for the list, which now totals more than 1,000 entries. Exam­ples of the win­ners (or should that be losers?) to make the year­ly com­pi­la­tion: “detente,” “sure­ly,” “clas­sic,” “bro­mance,” and “COVID-19,” plus “wrap my head around,” “user friend­ly,” “at this point in time,” “not so much,” and “viable alter­na­tive.” The Ban­ished Words List has become such a cul­tur­al phe­nom­e­non that come­di­an George Car­lin sub­mit­ted an entry that made the annals in 1994: “badd­a­boom, baddabing.”

This year, nom­i­na­tions came from most major U.S. cities and many U.S. states, plus Aus­tralia, New Zealand, France, Italy, Por­tu­gal, Eng­land, North­ern Ire­land, Scot­land, the Nether­lands, Bel­gium, the Czech Repub­lic, India, Chi­na, Namib­ia, South Africa, Nige­ria, Amer­i­can Samoa, Malaysia, the British Vir­gin Islands, Trinidad and Toba­go, and through­out Canada.

“Our lin­guists, edi­tors, and philoso­phers, comics, gate­keep­ers, and pun­dits didn’t suc­cumb to qui­et quit­ting when labor­ing over rife mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Rather, they turned in dis­cern­ing opin­ions about ram­pant ver­bal and writ­ten blun­ders with equal parts amuse­ment, despair, and out­rage. But our nom­i­na­tors insist­ed, and our Arts and Let­ters fac­ul­ty judges con­curred, that to decree the Ban­ished Words List 2023 as the GOAT is tan­ta­mount to gaslight­ing. Does that make sense?” said LSSU Pres­i­dent Dr. Rod­ney S. Hanley.

“Irre­gard­less, mov­ing for­ward, it is what it is: an absolute­ly amaz­ing inflec­tion point of pur­pose­less and inep­ti­tude that over­takes so many mouths and fingers.”

Lists for pre­vi­ous years are avail­able on Lake Superior’s site.

The re-ban­ish­ment of not one or two but three words and phras­es is note­wor­thy. The total num­ber of new addi­tions to the list this year num­bers just seven.

GOAT and irre­gard­less were excel­lent choices.

We’d add to this year’s list by adding sev­er­al more obnox­ious phras­es that we’d like to see ban­ished for overuse, mis­use and gen­er­al uselessness:

DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH — Fre­quent­ly seen in Face­book post­ings and in YouTube com­ments, this has become a tired refrain of anti­vax­ers and con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists who want more com­pa­ny in the rab­bit holes they’ve cho­sen to dive into. If you don’t know how to research a top­ic, do your own research is prob­lem­at­ic advice. Philoso­pher Nathan Bal­lan­tyne and social psy­chol­o­gist David Dun­ning explain: “As psy­cho­log­i­cal stud­ies have repeat­ed­ly shown, when it comes to tech­ni­cal and com­plex issues like cli­mate change and vac­cine effi­ca­cy, novices who do their own research often end up becom­ing more mis­led than informed — the exact oppo­site of what D.Y.O.R. is sup­posed to accomplish.”

PRO TIP — Increas­ing­ly overused and very annoy­ing. “The phrase is often used humor­ous­ly to intro­duce unnec­es­sary or obvi­ous advice,” its Free Dic­tio­nary entry explains. Nom­i­nat­ed by Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate read­er Ivan Weiss and oth­ers for ban­ish­ment. Our team saw it used all over the place in 2022. Pro tip for copy­writ­ers: Next time you’re writ­ing a tuto­r­i­al or help arti­cle, don’t include this phrase.

COASTAL ELITES — A put-down used in right wing media, much of which hilar­i­ous­ly orig­i­nates from well-paid talk­ing heads oper­at­ing out of stu­dios locat­ed on the coun­try’s coasts. The nation’s two biggest Repub­li­can run states are both coastal (Flori­da, Texas) and so are many more (Mis­sis­sip­pi, Alaba­ma, Geor­gia, etc.). The rich Florid­i­ans who give mon­ey to Ron DeSan­tis bet­ter fit the descrip­tion of coastal elite than the large groups of edu­cat­ed vot­ers in Demo­c­ra­t­ic states that right wing voic­es seem to be refer­ring to. Time for this stu­pid phrase to hit the dust­bin where it belongs.

ADULTING — Sup­pos­ed­ly “an infor­mal term to describe behav­ior that is seen as respon­si­ble and grown-up.” Its usage online has been traced back to 2008, accord­ing to Dictionary.com. Giv­en that we already have suit­able words like mature to describe respon­si­ble, grown-up behav­ior, we can do with­out this slang term, which is grat­ing and unnecessary.

I DID A THING — Has been dubbed a “mil­len­ni­al catch­phrase” by Liz Som­mer. “It’s often used as a way to announce some­thing that’s pre­vi­ous­ly been kept secret. Its usage has been cri­tiqued for being annoy­ing and a form of brag­ging.” It’s def­i­nite­ly annoy­ing. Since it’s not descrip­tive, it’s basi­cal­ly a form of prepo­si­tion filler. Rather than say­ing, “I did a thing,” peo­ple should explain what it is they want oth­er peo­ple to know. For exam­ple: I went on a trip to New York and I had a great time. Or: I recent­ly signed a lease agree­ment for a new car.

ALL OF THE FEELS — “This idiomat­ic phrase indi­cates an expe­ri­ence of mixed emo­tions,” Chris­t­ian Cor­po­ra explains. So why not just say that? “Mixed emo­tions” or “mixed feel­ings” are sim­ple to say and both much more accu­rate. This 2019 Dodgers tweet illus­trates why this phrase is a mis­nomer. It depicts a ballplay­er sign­ing auto­graphs for fans and is cap­tioned “This fan meet­ing CT3 is giv­ing us all the feels.” Real­ly? All of them? The full range of feel­ings includes emo­tions like anger, con­fu­sion, and jeal­ousy, and nobody in the clip appears angry, con­fused, or jeal­ous. A bet­ter cap­tion would have been “This fan meet­ing CT3 is giv­ing us hap­py feelings.”

Pre­vi­ous­ly ban­ished by NPI:

2022

  • Let’s Go Brandon
  • Cheugy
  • Not Gonna Lie / I’m Not Gonna Lie
  • How It Start­ed, How It’s Going
  • Snack­able Content
  • Phy­gi­tal

2021

  • Can­cel Culture
  • Self-Made Bil­lion­aire
  • All Options Are On The Table
  • Human­ing
  • I Don’t Know Who Needs To Hear This, But…
  • Real Peo­ple Paid For Real Opin­ions / Real Peo­ple, Not Paid Actors

2020

  • We Should­n’t Be Pick­ing Win­ners and Losers
  • News Dump
  • Style Points
  • Cup­cake [in a grid­iron context]
  • View­er Dis­cre­tion is Advised
  • The Stakes Are Too High

2019

  • Spe­cial Snowflake
  • You Do You
  • Back-Break­ing
  • We Should Live With­in Our Means
  • She Shed
  • Please Lis­ten Care­ful­ly As Our Menu Has Changed

2018

  • Alter­na­tive Facts
  • Thoughts and Prayers
  • Zero Sum Game
  • Hive Mind
  • Woke
  • Not/Shouldn’t Be A Par­ti­san Issue

2017

  • Make Amer­i­ca Great Again/MAGA
  • Alt-Right
  • That Being Said
  • ____ Porn
  • Soft Tar­get

2016

  • Net­flix and Chill
  • Explo­sive Play
  • Chip In
  • Yuc­cie
  • Active, Flu­id Situation

2015

  • Chip­py
  • (If You) Work Hard And Play By The Rules
  • Inter­net of Things
  • Pick Six
  • Phys­i­cal­i­ty
  • Boots On The Ground
  • Send A Message

2014

  • Amazeballs/Balls to the Wall
  • FOMO (Fear Of Miss­ing Out)
  • Presh
  • Debt Ceil­ing
  • Enti­tle­ments

2013

  • Adork­able
  • -GEDDON con­truct (e.g. Snowmageddon)
  • Lit­er­al­ly
  • Mom­my Porn
  • Super­storm
  • Meh

2012

  • Guru
  • Some Would Say/Some Say
  • Job Cre­ator
  • Two-Thirds Major­i­ty
  • Let Me Be Per­fect­ly Clear
  • Offer Only Avail­able For A Lim­it­ed Time
  • Incen­tivize

2011

  • Your Call is Impor­tant To Us (an almost iden­ti­cal phrase was ban­ished by Lake Supe­ri­or State Uni­ver­si­ty in 1996)
  • Par­tial Zero Emis­sions Vehicle

Are there words you like to see ban­ished that aren’t on this year’s list – or LSSU’s all time list? If so, let us know in the com­ments. And Hap­py New Year!

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Andrew:

    How have we neglect­ed to men­tion “At the end of the day?” Seems like an obvi­ous inclu­sion. Cheers.

    # by Ivan Weiss :: January 2nd, 2023 at 5:47 AM
    • “At the end of the day” was actu­al­ly ban­ished twice by LSSU — first in 1999:

      Used by many to sum­ma­rize a con­ver­sa­tion or debate, as in ‘at the end of the day, it’s all about fam­i­ly values.’

      “Used by polit­i­cal pun­dits. This is often recit­ed on evening cable talk shows when the hosts are explain­ing why, ‘at the end of the day, the Pres­i­dent will not be impeached.’ That may have been true for a par­tic­u­lar day, but it did not stand the test of time.” Mike McEl­roy, Good Hart, Michigan

      “Hol­ly­wood types and Wash­ing­ton bureau­crats seem unable to say ‘final­ly’ or ‘in the end.’ Ran­dall Heeres, Eng­lish Dept., North­ern Michi­gan Chris­t­ian H.S., McBain, Michigan

      and again in 2022:

      Twen­ty-plus years after orig­i­nal ban­ish­ment of this phrase in 1999, the day still isn’t over for this mis­used, overused, and use­less expres­sion. “Many times things don’t end at the end of the day—or even the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of what­ev­er is hap­pen­ing,” observed a sage. Oth­ers con­sid­er “day” an impre­cise mea­sure. Today? Present times? Ban­ish­ment in 1999: overused syn­op­sis of a con­ver­sa­tion or debate, often by politi­cians and pundits.

      So it def­i­nite­ly has­n’t been neglected!

      # by Andrew Villeneuve :: January 2nd, 2023 at 11:07 AM
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