Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will never hurt us. So, the saying goes. No, some words and phrases just drive us crazy. You know what we mean. They push our buttons. They drive us to groan, cringe, or roll our eyes in frustration.
They come out of the mouths of pundits on television and are included in newspapers and books. They crop up in everyday conversations. To use Valley girl vernacular that overuses the word “like” to place emphasis on what is said, these words and phrases are…like…so annoying!
Every year, Michigan’s Lake Superior State University (LSSU) publishes a Banished Words List including 10 words based on submissions from people around the world. The goal is to “uphold, protect, and support excellence in language by avoidance of words and terms that are overworked, redundant, oxymoronic, clichéd, illogical, nonsensical, and otherwise ineffective, baffling, or irritating.” Last year, the number one choice was Covid-19. Wishful thinking!
Its 2022 winners include “new normal,” emphasizing that in the third year of the pandemic is any of this normalcy still considered new? “Wait, what?” topped the LSSU’s banishment list. The list includes ditching the phrase “no worries,” suggesting that people, instead, simply say “you’re welcome.” It also proposes banishing “asking for a friend,” noting that it’s just a ruse that isn’t fooling anyone.
So, we’re going to do our annual venting! We never again want to hear the word “irregardless.” It’s nonsensical. Spell Check doesn’t even recognize it! Use the appropriate word, “regardless.” The ir– prefix usually indicates negation. So you’re saying the opposite of what you mean? Merriam-Webster responds to criticism noting that it includes it in its dictionary because of its widespread use. Huh? Sort of like “ain’t.”
Then, there is the overuse of the word “literally.” Many people use the word “literally” like literally way too much. No, recipes don’t literally take no time at all, and those books didn’t literally fly off the shelves.
And, how many times have you heard: “To make a long story short?” Just give us the short version! Then, there’s “the bottom line.” Just cut to the chase, please, unless you are discussing a profit and loss report. “At the end of the day?” Which day? “Nothingburger.” We thought that one was dropped years ago, but it has been reheated. “Period; end of the story.” Really??? That’s the best you can do for emphasis?
Remember all the exclamations that were common decades ago and have, thankfully, aged out? Heavens to Betsy! Gee whillikers! Hunky-dory! Holy Moley! Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle! What do they even mean? Or antiquated words that show our age like “beehives, dunce caps, dungarees, pageboys, pantyhose, pedal pushers, and saddle shoes.
Then there are the old terms and expressions that have become obsolete because of improved technology. Don’t touch that dial. Carbon copy. You sound like a broken record. Hung out to dry. Yup, who today would link them to rotary phones, manual typewriters, vinyl records, and clotheslines. Okay, vinyl records are coming back into fashion. Ditch that example.
One word we would love to see become obsolete is “pandemic.” Not surprised by Merriam-Webster’s 2021 Word of the Year…vaccine. It was selected based on lookup data and searches online. Makes sense.
Heavens to Murgatroyd! While we are groaning about words and phrases, let’s include all the new techie ones like Ethereum blockchain, bitcoin, dogecoin, cryptocurrency, NFTs, and more. We don’t even know what these words mean much less how to make payments using them. We need to create a Coinbase Exchange account? Heck, we still write checks. So, our wrinkled wisdom for today? If you want to vent about words or phrases that annoy you, click on “comments” at the top of the page and share them for all to enjoy. If you want to see them banished, nominate them on LSSU’s website: https://www.lssu.edu/traditions/banishedwords. No, don’t waste your time nominating words like blockchain. Face it. In this age of technology, maybe just try to get help and assistance understanding them from Siri?? Just kidding! See ya later, alligator!