The Worst Words of 2012 – What to Avoid in 2013

banI was planning to work on this entry earlier this month, but as you know, the Universe and I weren’t exactly on the same page. Still, all’s well that ends well, and I hope I am not incorrect in thinking that it’s not too late to take a look at some of the worst words of 2012. Not only can it be fun, it might also come in handy as we continue churning out our pieces this year.

Usually, at the end/beginning of each year, I like taking a look at Lake Superior State University’s list of banished words. What they do is compile a list of words that have been overused in the past year and ban them from use in the new year.

While there is no enforcement involved whatsoever (at least that’s how I see it), looking at those words is an interesting activity. In 2012, words that were banished (overused in 2011) included “amazing”, “occupy”, and “baby bump”. I sure failed at NOT using the first one! You?

Lake Superior State University’s list of banished words

This year, the worst words/phrases of 2012 (banished for 2013) are:

  • fiscal cliff
  • kick the can down the road
  • double down
  • job creators/creation
  • passion/passionate
  • YOLO
  • spoiler alert
  • bucket list
  • trending
  • superfood
  • boneless wings
  • guru

I found myself chuckling at several words, as I wholeheartedly agree with banishing them: YOLO, passion/passionate, trending, and guru. Or am I being too harsh?

The Atlantic Wire’s guide to the worst words of 2012

Lake Superior State University is not alone in being touchy about word usage. The Atlantic Wire threw made their opinion known in this regard as well, pinpointing words labeled as the worst. I do like their disclaimer:

We mean no offense to these words, even when we call them despicable. One woman’s worst word might be another’s best. Bad words are a matter of opinion, and each is entitled to his own. And sometimes by hating a word, you—strangely—grow to love it.

It’s a pretty long list, but I particularly like – or dislike, you know what I mean – the following:

  • artisanal (I have to admit my pantry has seen more than its fair share of artisanal food items, though.)
  • disrupt (This is overused in the startup scene.)
  • epic (I think this was already highlighted in 2011, but it just won’t go away!)
  • hipster (I still think of my mum’s preference for underwear. Sorry if that’s TMI!)
  • legitimate rape (Where do I begin?)
  • organically (Pretentious is the word.)

Overused words in PR

If you’re a PR writer, you’ll find this infographic by Shift Communications useful. It details the most overused words in press releases for 2012.


Are you guilty of overusing these words?

What’s on your list?

As the guys at Atlantic Wire said, disliked words can be subjective. That being said, what do you consider the worst words of 2012? Are you consciously avoiding any words in your writing this year? Let us know in the comments!






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