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Words We’re Sick Of

Language nominated for banishment in 2013.

January 10, 2013
Susan Halas - Senior Contributing Writer ( , The Maui Weekly

The New Year always brings a heaping helping of lists--be they resolutions for the months to come, or recaps of events just past.

For a light-hearted news story, the Maui Weekly conducted a small survey among users of the English language to create a list of words they're sick of--those overused in speech and those that have grown stale in print. They are words and phrases some of our readers dearly hope never to hear or read again. In all, nearly 50 people contributed to an assortment of language proposed for banishment in 2013.

One word led the pack: our correspondents were unanimous--"Please, no more 'cliff;' no 'fiscal cliff,' no 'over the cliff.'"

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According to a Maui Weekly poll, “meh” is one of many words and phrases our readers hope never to hear or read again.

In short, let cliffs of every kind cease and desist. The Maui Weekly crowd individually and collectively hopes that "cliff-free" joins "smoke-free" and "alcohol-free" as safe zones in the year ahead.

Not far behind, synonyms for a steep monetary drop included a gaggle of overused adjectives led by "amazing" with "awesome" and "wow" (often pronounced "waa-AAAwow." Also disliked were "unique" (when it's not), "epic" (unless it really is) and the nearly universally scorned "meh."

Wrote one of our contributors: "I'd like to see the use of 'dramatic' banned as an all-purpose adjective to describe natural disasters, increases in violent deaths, sudden changes in anything from weather to reading scores, or anything not actually related to drama. News organizations need to broaden their vocabularies. 'He's a dynamic speaker,' will invoke slow, painful clinical demise when I'm king of the world."

Also seen as trite and clich are "frenemy," "ginormous," "staycation" or any other version of an actual word that becomes nonsensical in its transformation. To make that ostracized category broader, another suggested the addition of "any noun made from a verb; any verb made from a noun."

Some of the most distasteful words in the copy of those who write reviews of food or culture included "curated," "eponymous," "locavore," "resonate," "iconic" and "artisanal."

In the tech world, we're tired of "e-book," "Amazon," "i" anything, "the cloud," "trending" (as in Twitter or Google), and now that you mention it, enough already with "tweets," "twitters" and "tweeters."

And as proper names go, it's not just Lord Voldemort's who should cease to be uttered. There are many celebrity monikers nominated for becoming unspoken.

Frequently cited as overexposed are "Justin Bieber," and his "True Beliebers," "Honey Boo Boo" and "Gangnam Style." "Kardashian" (any and all) has reached its saturation point--and not just the ladies, but also their husbands, boyfriends, relatives and product endorsements.

Nominations for names grown stale from over exposure in world of politics included Pelosi and Boehner.

Consigned to dated slang heap are POTUS, SCOTUS or any other *OTUS, including SCROTUS.

Similarly disliked is the liberal use of the contraction of America--"Murika," "Mmerica" or "Murikkka.

Words on their way to the overuse pile are "entitlement," "occupy," anything with a percent sign including "1%," "99%," "47%" and everything in between.

Turning to feeling and relationships, our correspondents are sick of "significant other," "baby bump," and "babydaddy."

A few choice derogatory remarks were reserved for "sharing" (with you, like an idea or opinion).

Not all the words we'd like to see go away are of recent origin either, wrote one friend of the Maui Weekly: "I've been worked up over 'incredible' for more than a decade. It's has to be 'Fresh Air's' Terry Gross's favorite adjective (and just as I was typing this, I heard the word on NPR--yet again)."

"The point is," our contributor continued, "the fewer phenomena one finds 'incredible' the more knowledgeable and perceptive one is. I take the word literally and it's been tossed around as a silly adjective in a way that indicates to me at least that the person using it is naive and unimaginative."

Another writer recalled that there are banishment ceremonies that might apply here.

For example, one writer suggested there's "a Klingon ritual whereby the warriors cross their arms over their chest and do an abrupt 180 to face away from the person to be banished." There might be a similar way, he speculated, "of making these irritating and overused words 'invisible' to the group."

That being said, the phrase "that being said" made the list of words headed for the cemetery. The person who suggested eradicating it wrote, "It makes you wonder about the IQ of someone who has to point out that he said something."

So at the end of the day, you might guess that "At the end of the day" is also on the list.

Want to see how our own Maui Weekly list compares with another? Take a look at the words nominated by Michigan's Lake Superior State University, a school that annually compiles its nominations for linguistic oblivion (

If you have your own ideas on words and phrases that are overdue for extinction, email



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