Tag Archives: Lake Superior State University

Words of 2017, Misused and Overused


Unknown.jpegLake Superior State University, of Northern Michigan, released its 43rd annual list of words and phrases that chilled many of us to the core in 2017. Here are the 14 that made the list:

Unpack (not talking about suitcases here)






Let that sink in

Let me ask you this

Impactful (I can still recall the first time I heard this, about eight years ago, and I’m still shuddering)

Covfefe (Did we ever figure out what this meant?)

Drill down

Fake news

Hot water heater (It’s a cold water heater—or just a water heater)

Gig economy

Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year is youthquake, while Merriam- Webster went with feminism.

I’d also add “Believe me.” When I hear that, I immediately question the veracity of the speaker. What are your “favorites”?

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Lake Superior State University’s 2013 List of Banished Words

Unfortunately, no way exists to banish these words and phrases—but the desire is there in many of us. They have become trite, overused, boring and vague: 

1. Fiscal cliff

2. Kick the can down the road

3. Double down

4. Jobs creators/creation

5. Passion/passionate

6. YOLO (You only live once, usually said before undertaking something rash or stupid.)

7. Spoiler alert

8. Bucket list

9. Trending

10. Superfood

11. Boneless wings

12. Guru


Filed under All things having to do with the English language

Words I’d Like to Banish

Michigan’s Lake Superior State University puts out an annual list of words they want to banish. Here’s their website with the 2012 list; you can also find lists from previous years and see what has stuck and which have gone to the verbal graveyard. 


These words are a few from the current list:





THANK YOU FOR YOUR COOPERATION—I always preach against this in my classes. Here’s the situation: You have told someone to do something that person does not want to do.  To sweeten the deal, you add these saccharine words, even though the other person knows you are standing there with your hands on your hips and are stomping your foot. You’re not fooling anyone.  Thank the other person sincerely:  “I know this is difficult, and I really appreciate your doing this for me.”

To these words I would add my personal list of major annoyances:

FISCAL CLIFF—I swear, if I heard this one more time I was going to find the nearest actual cliff and take a flying leap.

AWESOME—Please, I beg you, find another adjective. It means “to inspire awe.” Surely, not every burger you eat or reality show you watch does this.

CZAR—This just means a bigshot appointed to, usually, a political position.  This person is rarely the equivalent of Peter the Great.

GURU—Every reasonably bright person today is a “guru.” Not really. They are just people who may know a little more about a subject than you do.  But there are subjects you know more about than the so-called gurus do, and that doesn’t make you a guru (unless you are sitting high on a mountain in India).

PRICE POINT—This drives me crazy.  It’s just a fancy way to say “price” and doesn’t mean anything more.  Lose the “point.”

LIKE—It’s like an interjection that like is inserted like every couple of words and like drives your listeners like insane.

STARTING SENTENCES WITH “SO”—So this has reached epidemic proportions.  So I don’t know who started it or why, but it’s everywhere.  So try to catch yourself and avoid doing this.

TO GIFT—Just GIVE.  “Gifting” doesn’t mean more or bigger or better.  When you give a gift, you give.

TO GROW—I believe this began with Paul Hawken’s excellent book, Growing Your Business.  But all it means is “to increase.”  “Grow” has taken over like viral moss and is used when anything is getting bigger or better.  Time to spray the weedkiller.

STRATEGIC—If something is deemed to have any amount of importance, however small, it is labeled “strategic.”  The most common use is “strategic plan.”  Think about it:  every plan involves thinking about what might happen as a result of implementing it.  That involves strategy.  Ergo, every plan is strategic by nature. Another word to put in very cold storage.

Do you have favorite annoying words and phrases you’d like to have disappear?  Send me your candidates.


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