Lake Superior State University’s Lists of Banished Words and Phrases


bannedWe all have our pet peeves, and for writers, this is especially true when it comes to word usage.  I am sure that all of you will be able to come up with your own list of banished words and phrases, but I wonder how your list will compare to what Lake Superior State University has come up for 2010 and 2011?

Last week, the Internet was abuzz with talk about the newly released 35th Annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness. ((Source: Lake Superior State University)) It seems that my year has been starting out slowly, and I only had the chance to take a look at the list today. I have to admit that I am guilty of using some of the words in the list, namely tweet, teachable moment, app, and bromance.

I do have my defense ready for the use of these words, though.

Tweet and app

I write online for a living.  How can I not use tweet and app when oftentimes, those words are part of what I write about?  And, yes, I do spend a lot of time tweeting and using apps.

Teachable moment

For the first half of 2010, I had a “real” job which involved teaching English and monitoring English lessons for quality.  Don’t tell me that I cannot use teaching moment when I come across a teaching moment! 😉


If you have the friends that I have, then you will understand that bromance simply has to be uttered at least once when you go out for a night of fun.

Here’s the full list of words banished in 2010.

  1. Shovel-ready
  2. Transparent/Transparency
  3. Czar
  4. Tweet
  5. App
  6. Sexting
  7. Friend (as a verb)
  8. Teachable Moment
  9. In These Economic Times…
  10. Stimulus
  11. Toxic Assets
  12. Too Big to Fail
  13. Bromance
  14. Chillaxin’
  15. Obama as a prefix (such as Obamanation, Obamanomics)

It’s 2011, though.  Does this mean the words in the list above can be used this year?

If you think that you have a full year to use whatever buzzword you feel like using, think again.  The guys at the LSSU already have a list for 2011. ((Source: Lake Superior State University))  I think I am going to get shot down for using more words in this list.  I won’t even bother to defend myself.

  1. Viral
  2. Epic
  3. Fail
  4. Wow Factor
  5. A-ha Moment
  6. Back Story
  7. BFF
  8. Man up
  9. Refudiate
  10. Mama Grizzlies
  11. The American People
  12. I’m just sayin’
  13. Facebook/Google (as verbs)
  14. Live life to the fullest

I have no issues about banning words 2, 3,  7, and 12.  Some words in the list, however, are too useful to be banned.  Alright, I just don’t know when to shut up, but what can we replace viral with?  I know it can get irritating to hear and read this word over and over again, but if a video or a post becomes viral, how else can we express it?  How about google?  Wouldn’t you rather say/write “Google it” rather than “Search for it on Google”?  After all, saying more with fewer words is better, isn’t it?

So tell me, what do you think of these lists?  I don’t know about you, but while I am more than willing to say goodbye to some words and phrases listed, I will not part with others.

Photo via Miss Penny Dreadful



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5 responses
  1. Chris Van Avatar

    I’m not too fond of “game-changer”, which didn’t make the list. And I agree that “epic” and “fail” are often overused, or used incorrectly.

    As a former news writer I have a list of phrases I can’t stomach anymore. Things like “speaking out,” “fighting for life,” and “being called a hero.”

    For the full list see my latest blog post… Speaking Out Against “Speaking Out:” A News Writer’s War on Buzz Words –

  2. Teresa Boardman Avatar

    If someone died and left me in charge I would ban the word “rock” and “rocks” and “rocked” there would be not more:
    You rock!
    He rocked it!
    She rocks!
    I wouldn’t mind going one step further and getting rid of “crushed it” and “nailed it” too.

    1. Noemi Twigg Avatar
      Noemi Twigg

      You rock, Teresa! 😉

  3. Ed Avatar

    Using “New Media” instead of saying online or the internet.

  4. Jodee Avatar

    “Living the dream” should be on the list, too. That expression just gets on my nerves.

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