Saturday, January 03, 2015

Ban It Ten

I was reading this year's list of words banned by Lake Superior State College, evidently an annual tradition of theirs for the last 40 years. Some I agree with (the phrase polar vortex has worn out its welcome) while others I've never heard (there are people who actually say bae or cra-cra out loud in front of others? Not in my circle) but the rest seem puzzling. Foodie has been around for at least a decade, and hack probably twice that long, and yet this is the first time I've heard them demonized. Maybe we get tired of some words after years of having them hurled at us.

I do keep my own running list of letters, symbols, words and phrases that annoy the hell out of me -- doesn't every writer? -- so I decided to put together:

Ten Words I'd like to See Banned Forever

# (or hashtag): A roping buzzy symbol first used to herd the comments of Twitter users under a common header to optimize searches for people who are forever Googling themselves, their friends or their causes. Now being perpetually used as a form of promotion by everyone for everything; even used car salesmen employ it in their irritating commercials. Since I'm not on Twitter or a fan of group-think I see it and think line break, which is what it means to a pro writer. I doubt we can get rid of it now, so I'll just be glad they didn't hijack the ampersand.

Amazeballs: The newest morphword that means amazing. Aka the sort of thing you chuckle when you hear a four-year-old saying it. Coming out of the mouth of a full-grown adult? Not so much.

Booty: As a euphemism for ass, backside, bottom, buttocks etc. The trend now is the bigger the better, which makes me happy for some of my friends who are well-endowed in that department, but the word itself? Still means pirate treasure to me. I guess I'll never get the hang of thinking of a lady's sit-upon when I hear it; sorry.

Conscious Uncoupling: Popularized by Gwyneth Paltrow, who apparently can't deal with uttering the words separated or divorced; sounds like what happens when you take too many Valium. Maybe that was the problem? Anyway, I'm adding it as an example to my collection of pretentious twaddle.

Deck: Not a group of cards, but the latest incarnation of cool. Why? Search me.

Fleek: I think this weirdo word is the latest euphemism for attractive (my hipster daughter explained this to me like three times and I still don't get it.) It sounds so unattractive I automatically think the opposite (but I did with phat when that became a gnarly way to say pretty or cool. I think.)

HEA: I've never liked this romance writer shorthand for happily ever after; my mind always reads it as that sneery laugh sound word HEH. So many readers cling to it with white knuckled hands it may not be possible to do away with it altogether; maybe we could substitute SEA for it? (I'll leave you to guess what the S stands for. Hint: rhymes with happily.)

Plus One: The current popular substitute for the word date, or the person who accompanies you when you go out. As terms go this one is such an emotional voided black hole I can hear it sucking the life out of a conversation anytime it's used.

Totes: This came into use apparently when the word total proved too exhausting to utter. Whenever someone says it to me I auto-correct-think it to "tote bag" and start nattering on about my latest.

u: always in small case, used as a short form of the word you. I understand why people use it on Twitter -- that 140 character limit turns everyone into an acronymist -- but I see it employed all the time in e-mails, comments and other places around the internet where there's plenty of room to write. If you're so lazy you have to shorten a three-letter word, please don't talk to me.

What are some words you'd like to see banned? Let us know in comments.


  1. Life hack: I like the concept behind it. I just think maybe there's a better word for those ingenious little methods of simplifying life.

    Swag: I guess it's supposed to be short for swagger, which I maintain is a verb and not a noun, like people insist it is..but whenever I hear swag I of the hanging lamp I used to have in my bedroom years ago.

    Bae and Boo are both words I can do without.

  2. I hate the word 'mybad'. I feel like it exempts people from actually apologizing or taking responsibility. So Hubs and I use it as a joke - generally said in a funny voice when watching the news.

  3. Totes amaze! like, OMG how do you even think of these things? whatevs!

  4. I haaaaaaaaaaaaate hashtags being used anywhere other than their designated website. I hate Twitter anyway so I'm biased, but how ridiculous does it look when you put #pluggingmyself in a BOOK? Which I've seen happen.

  5. Margaret7:05 PM

    Since I work with people half my age (cue waving of cane and kids-off-the-lawn rantings in 3...2... ), I hear a lot of slang or vernacular that makes me scratch my head, at best. I have never understood using "my bad" for "my fault" or "sick" for "good", and the current trend of dropping a handful of letters from a word and then adding a plural (totes, whatevs, feels (as a noun, not a verb) ) makes me twitchy. I'm told by my millennial coworkers that the word-shortening thing comes from wanting to text faster, but since I use regular grammar and spelling when I text, and I'm faster than most of them, I don't get that one, either.

  6. Conscious Uncoupling. Seriously. That's a thing? Yes. Ban it. Please. It sounds like somebody has to make a hardcore attempt to stop having sex. The sex addict made his final attempt to consciously uncouple before he just gave in and boinked himself into oblivion.