Christmas is finally over, the New Year's confetti is cleaned up, and the Rose Parade finished cleaning up the horse poo.
It's also that special time of year when Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan releases its annual List of Banished Words for Misuse, Overuse, and General Uselessness.
This is the 49th year they have published the list and my 19th consecutive year writing about it. That also means next year is a big milestone because it will be their 50th and my 20th, and I will have been writing about the list for 40% of its existence.
This year's list is a bit thin though, because they only published ten words, just like the last two years. They used to banish a few dozen per year, but now they just settle for ten at a time.
Don't get me wrong. These useless words deserve to be banished. But with a bit more digging, I'm sure LSSU could have come up with, I don't know, five more? Ten more? There are plenty of words that people hate, and we should banish them all immediately.
The words, not the people. Although you could make an argument. . .
This also means we can use the remaining 1,990 words to our hearts' content, no matter how cringe-worthy they may be.
Except "cringe-worthy" got the chop.
Which means we can no longer describe something that causes feelings of embarrassment and awkwardness, at least not with that word.
Like reading your high school diary out loud to a room full of strangers. Or telling someone you love them, but they say, "Thank you." Or being prompted by the Kiss Cam at a basketball game, but you're sitting with your sibling.
One word I was pleased to see on the list was "rizz," a shortened form of "charisma." It came to mainstream prominence in early December when the Oxford Dictionary named it their word of the year, and it stunned the world.
What I believe happened is the Oxford Dictionary got hit on the head, and that was all they could say afterward. The word stuck, and the rest is history. Vacuous, empty-headed history.
As far as I can tell, no one had actually heard of the word before Oxford's head injury, so I hope it was a late addition to LSSU's 2,000 submissions. Because otherwise it's been around a long time, and I'm out of touch with young people.
No, that can't be it. I'm still hip because I say "young people."
Slay used to be the word you said about St. George killing that pesky dragon. Instead, it's used to mean you're really good at routine, mundane actions. As LSSU said, "Now, it’s sprinkled everywhere—from wearing a stylish outfit to tackling the art of parallel parking."
To be fair, I really am good at parallel parking.
It also looks like some of you weren't paying attention to the past lists because LSSU had to re-banish the overused phrase, "At the end of the day," for a third time in 25 years.
It was banished in 1999 and again in 2022, and it's not going away if you keep using it. It's like throwing away that old t-shirt because it doesn't fit and has too many holes, but you keep pulling it out of the trash and wearing it to run errands.
LSSU says that it lacks nuance and depth.
So do people who say "rizz."
Besides, I can never tell if it means 5:00 p.m. or midnight.
The word I really was glad to see get fired was "side hustle."
It's a stupid jargon word for "second job," or "hobby I make money on," or "the thing I would rather be doing because I hate my job."
It's overused by Type A people who don't believe you should sit down and relax at the end of the day. (Oops!) They think if you're not working and trying to make money, you're not using your time effectively and you're never going to be rich. And, in their minds, being rich is the only reason for living.
Maybe they should actually sit back and relax for a bit and enjoy what they have rather than thinking it's never enough. Except that doesn't earn money, so they won't do it.
Finally, LSSU banished the phrase "wait for it," and I could not be happier. This useless phrase is plastered on Instagram and TikTok videos to hype up the video and get me to stick around to the end to see something spectacular.
That's the whole point of the video though. Why would I click on a video only to scroll past it before the ending comes?
Actually, I do do that, but only on videos that say, "wait for it." I ain't waiting for squat, and I'm not wasting my time on some creator who doesn't know how to hype a video. It's like holding up a sign to remind people there's a punchline at the end of a joke.
You young people are so cringe-worthy.
Photo credit: Artist - Raphael; photo donated to Wikipedia by the National Gallery of Art (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 1.0)
My new humor novel, Mackinac Island Nation, is finished and available from 4 Horsemen Publications. You can get the ebook and print versions here.