Absolutely amazing – Our ‘misused, overused, and useless’ language

Every year since 1976, Lake Superior State University chooses the ten words it found were most “misused, overused, and useless” in the previous year and forbids people from using them for the 12 months to come.

Over the years, more than 1,000 everyday terms – to say nothing of the Oxford comma – have made it onto the roll of shame, some more than once. And this year, sees GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), top the poll.

Lake Superior State University
Go, Anchors!

This is all well and good, but, speaking as a professional word wrangler if not an outright smith, GOAT isn’t a word, it is an acronym, like LASER, and will not become a word until it loses the capitals. Laser-like.

Also included in this year’s list of “misused, overused, and useless” were:

  • Absolutely
  • Amazing
  • Does that make sense?
  • Gaslighting
  • Inflection point
  • Irregardless
  • It is what it is
  • Moving forward
  • Quiet quitting

For its 2023 list, Lake Superior State University judges reviewed more than 1,500 submissions before coming up with their top ten.

A university spokesperson said unintelligibly of the number one choice, GOAT.

“The many nominators didn’t have to be physicists or grammarians to determine the literal impossibility and technical vagueness of this wannabe superlative.

“Yet it’s bestowed on everyone from Olympic gold medalists to Jeopardy champions.”

“Technical vagueness,” anyone?

Words and terms banned in 2022 included “no worries,” “you’re on mute,” and “wait, what?”

Other banned words over the years have included “vis-à-vis,” “information superhighway,” “I’m like,” and “giving 110 percent.”

Ronald Reagan Made Final Acting Appearance on Popular Western Series
Reaganomics is commonly associated with and characterised as supply-side economics, trickle-down economics, or “voodoo economics.”

In 1983, one of the forbidden words was “Reaganomics” – the much-overused term at the time, for the economic policies promoted by US President Ronald Reagan. A predictable ban in 1999 was “Y2K,” followed by “millennium” in 2000.

The university has even gone so far as to copyright the pretentious concept of its word list to “uphold, protect, and support excellence in language by encouraging avoidance of words and terms that are overworked, redundant, oxymoronic, clichéd, illogical, nonsensical and otherwise ineffective, baffling, or irritating.”

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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