Banishing Words: It’s not a PC rant, I promise!

Jan 2, 2016

By Chuck Evans
Senior Partner

Someone, at Lake Superior State University (Lake State Lakers) has blessed us again with an annual list of words and phrases that need banishment from common use. Not because they are offensive or vulgar, but because they are useless:  vague, imprecise, overused.
And I have to admit that some of my favorites–not from careful choice so much as from reflexive monotony–are on the list.  So (it’s on the list), I thought it might be fun to see what other words the BetterSchools reading audience would banish, if we could, from our students’ and our own speaking and writing.
But first, LSSU’s 2016 list:
SO-As the first word in every answer to an NPR interviewer, or as the first word of every question asked by an NPR interviewer.
CONVERSATION-As in, “join the conversation” as a ubiquitous internet tagline, when trying to get people to populate our whatevers.
PROBLEMATIC-As in “that’s problematic” instead of “Wow, that’s a big problem!”
STAKEHOLDER-A strategic consultant’s favorite word.  We focus group all stakeholder groups before crafting a strategic plan.  I’ll have to work on this one.
PRICE POINT-When used as a synonym for price.  $4.95 is not the price point of a Big Mac; it’s just what it costs.  Btw (might go on someone’s list), we wrote a piece last year on the difference between price and price-point in school tuition.  Check it out.
SECRET SAUCE-I haven’t heard this one much, but apparently it’s business-speak for what makes a company special.  Shhhh!
BREAK THE INTERNET-I don’t know what this means, though I read it all the time online.  What constitutes an internet breakdown?
WALK IT BACK-Ben Carson (and all but one of his band of brothers) has been doing this a lot lately.  CNN hosts and pundits use it constantly.
PRESSER-I don’t care what they call a press conference.  This just seems like a quicker way to describe something that’s not real anyway.
MANSPREADING-Didn’t know this is a word, but a high school kid named Kenny did it to us every day in our carpool when I was in middle school.
VAPE-Yeah. Dumbest thing ever.
GIVING ME LIFE-Apparently, people use this as a way to describe any joy from a really good piece of cake to actually giving birth.  Who knew!
PHYSICALITY-We could go on and on about the words that sportscasters invent and use, not to mention the contorted syntax that seems so common (I challenge anyone to count the number of prepositional phrases that Joe Buck and Troy Aikman use between them calling one NFL game–or even just one quarter!).
Okay.  I’ll prime the list, and you can submit your own below:
OBVIOUSLY-Used by everyone on radio and television as a really long “Um.” If your point is obvious, why are you talking?
REALLY?-Have to admit that I have fallen into the morass.  It was funny the first few times someone said it on SNL or somewhere; now it’s just lazy.
LITERALLY-Especially when used to mean “not literally” or replacing “figuratively.”
There you go.  My wish list for words to be banished in 2016.
Leave a comment if you’ve got your own list!