Skip to main content

LSSU's Banned Words for 2013

It's a brand new year, and you know what that means — Lake Superior State University (LSSU) releases its annual list of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness. This is their 38th year, and the 7th year I've covered their linguistic eliminations.

As a word nerd, I'm always interested in learning what parts of the language are changing, evolving, or should be smashed with a hammer, so I enjoy seeing what words LSSU wants everyone to stop using.

This year, LSSU received tens of thousands of nominations, totaling more than 800 entries, and 12 finalists. And I liked 11 of them. Normally, I support every banned word, but this year, I passionately disagree with one of their entries and think the people who submitted them are just whiny little gits.

As you probably guessed, "Fiscal Cliff" topped the list, but we've hopefully heard the last of it. I don't think it was that the word was overused all year, but rather, we were drenched by it in December as the media found a new buzzword they could start abusing for their different headlines — driving over the Fiscal Cliff, falling off the Fiscal Cliff, being thrown off the Fiscal Cliff. You know, the kind of headline every reporter writes, cackling at its cleverness, not realizing it's the same as 10,000 other identical headlines around the world.

Not that it bothers me or anything.

What does bother me is "YOLO," which stands for "You Only Live Once," as some sort of a hipster battle cry.

It was 2012's drunken "hey y'all, watch this!" which is hollered seconds before someone injures themselves in a hilariously spectacular fashion. These days, a bunch of jegging-wearing 20-somethings will scream "YOLOOOOOOO!" at the top of their lungs as they launch themselves down a steep hill on a mechanic's dolly.

It may be because I'm in my 40s, but I prefer the phrase YOLFARLT — You Only Live For A Really Long Time — which, as I write it, I realize sounds a lot like "Ya old fart," which I may be. But I also still have all my teeth and no visible scars, so I like my odds so far.

Spoiler Alert: we're all going to die in the end anyway, but some of us — *ahem* looking at you, YOLOers — are just going to go sooner than the rest of us.

Except LSSU is banning "Spoiler Alert." "Used as an obnoxious way to show one has trivial information and is about to use it," wrote submitter Joseph Joly. It originally started out as an alert on websites that detailed movie plots to tell people that if they hadn't seen the movie, they shouldn't read any further. Now it's just used willy-nilly, neither spoiling anything nor alerting anyone.

The entry I hated with a white hot passion was, well, "Passion/Passionate." Apparently a lot of people don't like the word as a way to describe people being overly enthusiastic about a particular hobby or topic, calling it a "phony-baloney word." One person even said "passion is the stuff of Ahab, Hitler, chauvinists of every stripe, and terrorists."

I vehemently oppose the inclusion of the word, because it refers to something deeply felt. According to Dictionary.com, it's "any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate." And I question the emotional depth of people who think passion is phony-baloney, or equate it with Hitler, terrorists, and chauvinists. Passion is wild love, the feeling that you can't live without someone or something. It's not something to be dismissed puritanically out of hand, with the emotionlessness a cold fish.

Not that it bothers me or anything.

I was also introduced to a new word, even though it's now banned before I get to use it: "Superfood." These are foods that are so jam packed with nutrition and health benefits — blueberries, salmon, green tea, that sort of thing — that we should eat them as much as possible.

Yeah, right. The only super food I recognize is a cheeseburger with a fried egg on it, although I don't think that's what the superfoodies had in mind. Still, the people who have bought into the superfood mindset are the same people who will wrinkle their emaciated noses at beef and poultry products being eaten at all, and try to convince you that a soy burger with an egg substitute is just as good.

Spoiler alert: anyone who tells you a substitute food is "just as good as" the real thing is lying to you. It's like saying your dinner has a "nice personality." After all, as any egg-on-a-cheeseburger passionista can tell you, YOLO, baby! YOLO.



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.

---

Like this post? Leave a comment, Digg it, or Stumble it.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

AYFKMWTS?! FBI Creates 88 Page Twitter Slang Guide

TFBIHCAEEPTSD.

Did you get that? It's an acronym. Web slang. It's how all the teens and young people are texting with their tweeters and Facer-books on their cellular doodads.

It stands for "The FBI has created an eighty-eight page Twitter slang dictionary."

See, you would have known that if you had the FBI's 88 page Twitter slang dictionary.

Eighty-eight pages! Of slang! AYFKMWTS?! (Are you f***ing kidding me with this s***?! That's actually how they spell it in the guide, asterisks and everything. You know, in case the gun-toting agents who catch mobsters and international terrorists get offended by salty language.)

I didn't even know there were 88 Twitter acronyms, let alone enough acronyms to fill 88 pieces of paper.

The FBI needs to be good at Twitter because they're reading everyone's tweets to see if anyone is planning any illegal activities. Because that's what terrorists do — plan their terroristic activities publicly, as if they were…

Understanding 7 Different Types of Humor

One of my pet peeves is when people say they have a "dry" sense of humor, without actually understanding what it actually means.

"Dry" humor is not just any old type of humor. It's not violent, not off-color, not macabre or dark.

Basically, dry humor is that deadpan style of humor. It's the not-very-funny joke your uncle the cost analysis accountant tells. It's Bob Newhart, Steven Wright, or Jason Bateman in Arrested Development.

It is not, for the love of GOD, people, the Black Knight scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I swear, if anyone says Monty Python is "dry humor" is going to get a smack.

Here are some other types of comedy you may have heard and are just tossing around, willy-nilly.

Farce: Exaggerated comedy. Characters in a farce get themselves in an unlikely or improbable situation that takes a lot of footwork and fast talking to get out of. The play "The Foreigner" is an example of a farce, as are many of the Jeeves &…

What Are They Thinking? The Beloit College Mindset List

Every year at this time, the staff at Beloit College send out their new student Mindset List as a way to make everyone clutch their chest and feel the cold hand of death.

This list was originally created and shared with their faculty each year, so the faculty would understand what some of their own cultural touchstones might mean, or not mean, to the incoming freshmen. They also wanted the freshmen to know it was not cool to refer to '80s music as "Oldies."

This year's incoming Beloit freshmen are typically 18 years old, born in 1999. John F. Kennedy Jr. died that year, as did Stanley Kubrick and Gene Siskel. And so did my hope for a society that sought artistic and intellectual pursuits for the betterment of all humanity. Although it may have actually died when I heard about this year's Emoji Movie.

Before I throw my hands up in despair, here are a few items from the Mindset list for the class of 2021.

They're the last class to be born in the 1900s, and are t…