“Let that sink in” and “Let me ask you this” are among the phrases that made it onto one university’s list of “banished words” this year.
The self-proclaimed “wordsmiths” at Northern Michigan’s Lake Superior State University have released a thoughtful and humorous tongue-in-cheek List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness.
This year’s list includes “dish,” “drill down,” “impactful,” “let me ask you this,” “let that sink in,” “nothingburger,” “tons,” “unpack,” and the top vote-getter, “fake news.”
The others are “gig economy,” “onboarding/offboarding,” “pre-owned,” and the redundant “hot water heater.”
Also on the list is the Trumpian Twitter typo “covfefe.”
Here is the list for 2018, in no particular order.
- Covfefe – An impulsive typo, born into a 140-character universe, somehow missed by the autocorrect feature.
- Dish – As in to dish out the latest rumor on someone. Let’s go back to ‘talks about’ and leave dishes in the cupboard.
- Drill Down – Instead of expanding on a statement, we “drill down on it.”
- Fake News – Once upon a time stories could be empirically disproved. Now ‘fake news’ is any story you disagree with.
- Gig Economy – Gigs are for musicians and stand-up comedians. Now expanded to imply a sense of freedom and a lifestyle that rejects tradition in a changing economic culture. Runs a risk of sharecropping.
- Hot Water Heater – Hot water does not need to be heated. ‘Water heater’ or ‘hot water maker’ will keep us out of hot water.
- Impactful – A frivolous word groping for something ‘effective’ or ‘influential.’
- Let me ask you this – Wholly unnecessary statement. Just ask the question already.
- Let that sink in – One could say shocking, profound, or important. Let that sink in.
- Nothingburger – Says nothing that ‘nothing’ doesn’t already. I’ll take a quarter-pound of something in mine.
- Onboarding / Offboarding – Creature from the HR Lagoon. We used to have hiring, training and orientation. Now we need to have an “onboarding” process. Firings, quitting, and retirements are streamlined into “offboarding.”
- Pre-owned – What is so disgraceful about owning a used car now and then?
- Tons – Refers to an exaggerated quantity, as in tons of sunshine or tons of work. ‘Lots’ would surely suffice.
- Unpack – Misused word for analyze, consider, assess. Concepts or positions are not packed, so they don’t need to be unpacked.
I would complete 2018’s list by adding some more obnoxious “words or phrases” that I would like to see banished for overuse, misuse. and general uselessness:
- Bring Your “A” Game
- Zero-sum game
- Low-Hanging Fruit
- a level playing field
- Low-Hanging Fruit
- Give 110%
- My heart goes out
- Thoughts and prayers go out
- in this day and age
What words or phrases would you like to see banished that aren’t on this year’s list? Let us know in the comments. And Happy New Year!
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