My Long List of Words to Banish, 2014 Edition
Every New Year’s Day since 1976, Lake Superior State University in Michigan has come out with its list of Banished Words on account of “Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness.” Over the years, I’ve submitted numerous words for banishment, and I’ve seen my name in lights twice, for “First Dude” (2009) and “fan base” (2014).
Last year, I compiled a long list of words and phrases which, in my opinion, richly deserve banishment from The Queen’s English. Unfortunately, abusers of the language were hard at work in 2014, and I’ve got another list for this year. Once again, it’s divided into categories of offensiveness. (Fans of Grantland.com might recognize that I’ve cribbed the idea of categories from their writers’ “Trade Value” series.)
Group A. Out for the Season
After further review. Further? Football plays are reviewed only once.
Body of work. Formerly known as a team’s “record”.
Identity. Sports cliche with no apparent meaning. Where are identity thieves when you need them?
Step up to the plate. Strike three, you’re out. Take a seat on the bench.
Warrior. De-militarization of sports lingo starts with banning this word.
Group B. PowerPointless
Aspirational peer. If you aspire to be someone, that someone isn’t your peer.
Impactful. The X-rays are in. This word needs to be extracted.
Mentee. Invasive word species that escaped from MBA school. Needs to be reeled in and cut up for bait.
Outside the box. Should be express-mailed to oblivion.
Values, vision. Empty words whose main function is to clutter mission statements (see Group E, below).
Group C. Department of Redundancy Department
Future planning. Is there any other kind?
Hate on. Violates the Law of Conservation of Prepositions.
Most unique. You do know what “unique” means, don’t you?
Pre-order. It’s an “order,” just one that doesn’t get filled right away.
Sorry, not sorry. In plain English, “not sorry”.
Group D. Bereft of Meaning
Hipster. Used so often its Coefficient of Hipness has fallen to zero.
Life skills. Will someone please explain how life skills they differ from other skills?
Living in the moment. Unless you’re a time traveler, this phrase states the obvious.
Mouth-watering. Empty verbal calories.
Worldview. The Muzak of compound words.
Group E. Consultant Jargon
Bending the cost curve. Normal people say “holding costs down.” Beltway types say this.
Digital life experiences. Blowsy marketing-speak for “photos” and “movies.”
Narrative. Political consultants say this instead of “story” to justify their high salaries.
Mission-critical. Obsolete military jargon that found its way into the boardroom.
Mission statement. Overblown exercise in stating what should be obvious.
Group F. Junk Science
Bond (verb). Trading in this word has been halted.
Catalyst. Ship it back to the chem lab, with a “Hazardous” label attached.
Cutting edge, Leading edge. Dulled by over-use.
Eyeball test. Gone, along with “lens” and “prism.” They’ve all made spectacles of themselves.
Group G. You Can’t Teach a New Ager Old Tricks
Follow your dreams. Hallmark-lite expression. Nightmarishly trite.
Mindfulness, nowness. New Age synonyms for “brainlessness.”
Passion. Acceptable only to describe a variety of fruit. Or what happened on Good Friday.
Reflection. Seven years’ bad luck if you over-use this word.
Soulmate. Should be dropped on a ferry across the River Styx and deposited in Hades.
Group H. Parlez-vous alie-noix? (“Do you speak wingnut?”, for the Freedom Fries crowd)
Constitutional conservative. A conservative who never went to law school and doesn’t understand the Constitution.
Embolden. Fell out of a book on heraldry.
Public-private partnership. Alliterative euphemism for “corporate welfare.”
Servant leader. What a born-again, full-of-himself leader calls himself.
Skin in the game. Down on your luck? Suffer!
Group I. Please Fasten Your Blotation Device
Breakthrough. This word’s broken, and can’t be fixed. Toss it in the dumpster.
Logistics. Trucking, with 50 percent more syllables.
Inextricably intertwined. Pompous tongue-twister imported from badly-written court opinions.
Reimagined. What exactly was wrong with plain old “new”?
Transformative. Pull the plug on this one.
Group J. Rated PG-Minus 17: Offensive to Grown-Ups
Baby bump. Became stale about 30 trimesters ago.
Deal with it, Get over it, grow up. G-rated ways to say STFU to someone you disagree with.
Hottie. Worse than Tabloid English. This is Tiger Beat English.
Self-loathing. Has degenerated into a wild-card ad hominem argument.
Woo-hoo. Oy vay.
Group K. Let’s Hope These Are Test-Marketing Failures
Amirite? Internet slang that sounds like a useless nutritional supplement which, by law, can only be advertised on cable TV after 2 am.
Haters gotta hate. Babblers gotta babble.
Lean in. Count me out.
Normcore. Not to be confused with Common Core, the Earth’s core, or a manticore.
YOLO. Okay, you’ve lived once. Die already.
Group Z. Most Misused, Overused, and Useless
Leadership. Bob Dylan was right when he said, “Don’t follow leaders.”