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The Worst Words of 2012

Man, the Atlantic Wire sure hates a lot of popular words. Not just dislikes them. They. Detest. Them.

Writer Jen Doll created a list of 45 words that she grew to hate, hate, HATE in 2012, and savaged them brutally, saying we need to quit using them. Typically, writers don't actually hate the things they use on a daily basis — it's like a carpenter hating hammers — so these words must have been truly heinous and awful.

Actually, I would agree with her for most of her list, except she hated "actually."

Doll said "it's the word that you use when you're actually saying, 'you are wrong, and I am right, and you are at least a little bit of an idiot.'"

What'd I tell you? Hates it. I'm kind of iffy about the word. I use it, but I've never thought much about it. I don't go apoplectic like a lot of people did when the Associated Press said it was okay to start a sentence with "hopefully." That sent people into word rage this summer.

And we're both in total agreement with our hatred of "Baby Bump." I've never liked that word, because it's so cutesy and saccharine, like the annoying mom who expects everyone to moon over her precious child, and attend all the educationally-themed birthday parties. Baby Bump is the gossip columnist word for tell the world that such-and-such movie star is "pregnant but not fat."

I'd love it if we could start using terms like "brat bulge," "progeny protuberance," and "tot tuberosity." I may start just using "tot tuberosity" myself.

Doll also hated "historic" and "historical" because she thought they were overused. I'm personally sick of them, because every newscaster and pundit on TV likes to say "an historic" in the mistaken belief that it makes them sound smarter. As in "the 2012 presidential campaign was AN historic occasion."

It's not AN historic occasion, it's A historic occasion.

The rule is simple, and we all learned it in first grade. If a word starts with a vowel sound (not a vowel, a vowel sound), then you say "an." If a word starts with a consonant sound, you say "a." Like, "an apple" and "a banana."

Historic starts with a consonant sound, so you say "a historic." Saying "an historic" doesn't make you sound smarter, it makes you sound like you're copying every other pretentious pundit on TV who doesn't know that one basic rule either.

If there's another thing Doll and I don't like, it's "an hipster." The term is so widely used it's boring to complain about it, which makes it even sadder when it's used seriously. I've begun using it as a derogatory term about every skinny 20-something who carries 60 year old cameras and wears nerdy glasses, plaid shirts, shapeless hats, and meggings.

Thankfully the Atlantic Wire hates meggings too, which is the term for "men's jeggings." I hated jeggings when they first appeared. They make people who wear them look like a pair of tweezers wearing big clompy shoes. As a man, I'm especially horrified by the existence of meggings.

As if the original jeggings weren't bad enough, someone had the brilliant idea to make them in men's colors, as a way to further subjugate and humiliate us. No self-respecting Guy would be caught dead in meggings. And those men who wear them traded in their dignity a long time ago.

Speaking of hipsters, the Atlantic Wire hates quinoa (pronounced keen-wa). Another writer, Stefan Becket, says "I'm not entirely clear what it actually is. . . but it sounds like some bland hipster thing."

A guy named Stefan decrying hipsters? Is that irony? If you hate hipsters, call yourself "Steve" until they all go away.

Actually, I've had quinoa. It's not bad if you cover it with meatballs and a creamy Alfredo sauce.

Finally, the Atlantic Wire thinks we need to get rid of "Really?!" as "an expression of incredulity." As in, "Really?! You're mixing quinoa and rice together?"

I knew it was time to get rid of "Really?!" when my kids started using it on me. As in "Really?! You're going to make us listen to Pink Floyd again?" In fact, my son even used it on me tonight.

I told him about this article, and he said, "Actually, I don't use it as often as you think."

I've grown tired of these words almost as much as Jen Doll. Hopefully her brave work can help us stop using them before the end of 2013.

I'll spend the entire year being an hopeful Hoosier.

The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is now available. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

My other book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out.

You can get both of them from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or for the Kindle or Nook.


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  1. You do know "Baby Bump" is TWO words right? Not one word, as you said many times.

    I like the phrase "Plump Pregnancy" myself.

    1. Well, it's a word grouping, or a word concept, which makes it one word. Or whatever excuse I can come up with so as not to be wrong.

      (Alright, alright, it's a phrase.)


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