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This Curated List of Banned Words is Cray-Cray

"It's that most wonderful time of year / with curmudgeons all yelling / and everyone expelling / bad words with a sneer / it's that most wonderful time of the year!"

At the beginning of each year, if all the word nerds and syntax snobs have been good, Lake Superior State University (LSSU) gives us its List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.

This year was no different. On New Year's Eve 2014, LSSU curated its 39th list of much-hated words, and I'm re-curating it for the ninth year in a row. Or I was until a few minutes ago.


That's because "curated" made the list. It's a snooty, pretentious word for "collected" or "organized." Commonly referring to the job of museum collection organization, it's become the go-to marketing term that means "I copied other people's crap to look like I'm doing something useful." I see it a lot in my day job and I wish I could see less of it.

Maybe it will get buried under this year's polar vortex.

That's the fear-mongering word for "really cold weather," and it got the old ice axe as well. Now that TV meteorologists like needlessly frightening viewers too, "polar vortex" has become the fearsome word to describe when the temperature drops below 20.

According to LSSU, the word was submitted very early last year, when Kenneth Ross said, "Less than a week into the new year, and it's the most overused, meaningless word in the media."

Nice going, news media. You ruined a word in 1/52 of a year. That may be a new record, and you were the ones who gave us "fiscal cliff."

But LSSU got a jump on banning the word before anyone else (bae) when they burned a snowman named Mr. Polar Vortex during their annual Snowman Burning last spring.

I mention "bae" because that should have been burned too. It's used to describe your boyfriend or girlfriend. You put them "before anyone else," and use the word to aae — annoy everyone else.

It's so bad that S. Thoms of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan said, "I heard someone refer to their ramen noodles as 'bae'!"

I can understand putting a fettuccine bolognese before anyone else, but ramen? Eww, have some self-respect! No foodie would eat ramen.

At least not anymore, now that "foodie" has been banned. If only we could ban the people who call themselves foodies.

We used to call them gourmands. But now, foodies like to take selfies (banned in 2014) with their winie and beerie friends, two terms coined by Randall Chamberlain of Traverse City, Michigan.

"I crave good sleep too, but that does not make me a sleepie," said Gradeon DeCamp of Elk Rapids, Michigan.

I suppose if you could find new techniques and methods for hacking your sleep, that might make you a sleepie. Except now "hack" is banned. Those things we called "tips" or "shortcuts" are called hacks. Life hacks, travel hacks, food hacks, sleep hacks, video game hacks. You name it, someone's got a hack for it.

Of course you don't need hacks if you have a good skill set to begin with. Which is actually just a term for "skills." Which we need to start using again since "skill set" got whacked.

"Skill set" is the term for people who don't know about plural words, like "skills." They use it to sound all impressive and business-y. But if business people want to be efficient, doubling the number of words to express an idea isn't very efficient.

In fact, it's downright cray-cray.

That's apparently what young people are saying when they mean "crazy." While not officially doubling the number of words, they're just doubling down on the first syllable instead, as in "my bae is cray-cray."

"Cray-cray." It just sounds annoying. Or is that "annoy-annoy?" (For the sake of accuracy, LSSU spelled it "cra-cra," but everyone else spells it "cray-cray," which is just nuts.)

The big takeaway from all this?

One, we're no longer allowed to say "takeaway." The word that means the big idea you learned, the thing that stood out for you has been taken away from us.

The other big takeaway? People aren't happy. We love to complain. I hate that "literally" is slowly changing to mean "figuratively," something LSSU didn't ban. (Come on, you guys!) Other people hate words like "cray-cray" and "bae" and "foodie." We just can't be happy, no matter what.

It's like the country is being covered by a grumpiness vortex.


The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), and No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing are both available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook. My latest book, The Owned Media Doctrine is now available on Amazon.com
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