It’s been a tradition since 1976, and Lake Superior State University has announced the list of words and phrases that should be banished from our everyday vocabulary in 2023.
According to a news release from the university, there were over 1,500 nominations of words and terms for banishment. These terms were nominated due to the objective that they are misused, overused or in all just plain useless!
“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 Executive Director of Marketing and Communications at Lake State Peter Szatmary. “The nine additional words and terms banished for 2023—from the 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.”
Nominations came from all over the world including Scotland, India, Namibia, Trinidad and New Zealand.
Below is the list of 2023 words and terms and the reason for their banishment, according to Lake Superior State University.
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.
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.
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 as for ongoing misuse and overuse.
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 1940/44 movies.
Misuse, overuse, and uselessness. “Where else would we go?” wondered a sage—since we can’t, in fact, travel backwards 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. His next of kin, “going forward,” banished in 2001, also received votes.
“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.”
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, inquirers warp respondents into “co-conspirators,” deduced another. Needy, scheming, and/or cynical. Let me be clear, judges opined: Always make sense; don’t think out loud or play games! Misuse, overuse, and uselessness.
Sleuth confession: “It makes my hair hurt.” As well it should—because it’s not a word. At most, it’s a nonstandard word, according to 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.
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.
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.”
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