Banished words for 2018: LSSU names its list

If you're guilty of using buzzwords, lazy cliches, or tired expressions (and that's probably most of us!) you'll want to take a look at the 43rd annual list of banished words released by Lake Superior State University.


The Sault Ste. Marie university has been compiling their List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness since January of 1976, and usually has its finger firmly on the pulse of word-lovers' pet peeves for the year.


Nominations are received from around the world, although entries that have previously appeared on the list are not considered, which after 43 years, is quite a few -- 900 or so.


It will likely surprise nobody that "fake news" is on the list this year, as well as annoying little gems like "unpack" and "drill down" (the business world is often responsible for heinously useless words such as those two).


Here's the list, along with LSSU's commentary on why each was chosen.

  • Unpack -- Misused word for analyze, consider, assess. Concepts or positions are not packed, so they don't need to be unpacked.

  • Tons -- Refers to an exaggerated quantity, as in tons of sunshine or tons of work. 'Lots' would surely suffice.

  • Dish -- As in to dish out the latest rumor on someone. Let's go back to 'talks about' and leave dishes in the cupboard.

  • Pre-owned -- What is so disgraceful about owning a used car now and then?

  • Onboarding/Offboarding -- Creature from the HR Lagoon. We used to have hiring, training and orientation. Now we need to have an "onboarding" process. Firings, quitting, and retirements are streamlined into "offboarding."

  • Nothingburger -- Says nothing that 'nothing' doesn't already. I'll take a quarter-pound of something in mine.

  • Let that sink in -- One could say shocking, profound, or important. Let that sink in.

  • Let me ask you this -- Wholly unnecessary statement. Just ask the question already.

  • Impactful -- A frivolous word groping for something ‘effective’ or ‘influential.'

  • Covfefe -- An impulsive typo, born into a 140-character universe, somehow missed by the autocorrect feature.

  • Drill down -- Instead of expanding on a statement, we "drill down on it."

  • Fake News -- Once upon a time stories could be empirically disproved. Now 'fake news' is any story you disagree with.

  • Hot Water Heater -- Hot water does not need to be heated. 'Water heater' or 'hot water maker' will keep us out of hot water.

  • Gig Economy -- Gigs are for musicians and stand-up comedians. Now expanded to imply a sense of freedom and a lifestyle that rejects tradition in a changing economic culture. Runs a risk of sharecropping.


Lists from past years and submission information for 2019 are all online at LSSU's Banished Words site.

Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Related Company