Tag Archive for: banished words

Overused Words: Now More Than Ever

01 Jan 2003
January 1, 2003

Make no mistakes about it, Lake Superior State University issued its 28th annual extreme List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness, which the world needs now, more than ever.

People are encouraged to nominate their favorite overused words or phrases throughout the year. LSSU has been issuing this list since 1976. Its Public Relations Director W.T. (Bill) Rabe began the effort as a publicity device for the little-known college near the tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Media interest immediately followed.

Personal favorites from this year’s list:

  • Undisclosed, Secret Location: “Redundant stacking of adjectives often used to describe Vice President Cheney’s whereabouts. ‘If it’s a secret, it’s pretty undisclosed, and if it’s undisclosed, it’s a secret,’ says Bill Lodholz of Davis, California.”
  • Homeland Security: “A new and improved buzzword. With billions of dollars at stake, perhaps ‘national security’ is just plain blasé.”

    I’d say “Homeland Insecurity” is more appropriate.

  • Now, More Than Ever: “Matthew Lowe of Kew Gardens, New Jersey, summed it up for the many who nominated this tiresome phrase: ‘It has become overused since the terrorist attacks…from warnings to be safe, to stores having sales…It has to go!'”

    I have found myself almost saying to my children as we exit the car “Let’s roll!,” a reference to Todd Beamer’s 9/11 exclamation and a close relative of this phrase. I practically bit my tongue, freezing in mid sentence.

  • Challenge: “‘No one has problems anymore, they only face challenges‘. Sonia Jaffe Robbins, New York, New York. ‘I think it’s a weasel word. Challenges only have to be met. Problems require solutions!’ Ray Lucas, Ann Arbor, Michigan.”

    I must admit, I use this word. Overuse it actually, but only at work. I discovered last year that my definition of problem was different than my co-workers. I see it as simply something to be solved. However, others might see it as something more serious. When someone comes to you with a technology-related idea, mentioning the word, as in “that’s an interesting problem” and then thinking aloud on how to solve it, can make people feel uneasy. So, in 2002 I banished that word from my work vocabulary and substituted challenge. Works for me and everyone at work is happier!

The year has just started and I’m all ready making my own list of quips in need of tossing.

© 2001-2015 Jeff Gates ISSN 1544-4074