Well, I think we can all agree that 2017 is a thing that happened.

With myriad “best of” and “worst of” end-of-year lists now making the rounds, I found myself turning to one never fails to make me smile (and let out a few “ugh!”s): Lake Superior State University’s Annual List of Banished Words.

On a personal level, I find it to be incredibly satisfying to think about words that I want to bid farewell (and good riddance) to for the year ahead. While the LSSU words mostly fall into the “misused,” “overused,” or “straight-up annoying” categories, this type of list could be useful on a personal/practical level if there are words that seem to be holding you back or that represent something you want less of in your life. 

In fact, if you’re not into resolutions, it might be easier and more powerful to write down just a few words to say goodbye to in 2017 and some to say hello to in 2018. Give it a try. Don’t overthink it. Just jot down some words you’re leaving behind, and words to focus on for the year ahead. I’m planning to post mine tomorrow. 

All done? Great. Now we can get back to the banished words.

It’s amazing that so many major moments and everyday minutiae can be reflected in such a short list. The words that jumped out to me on LSSU’s list were:

  • Unpack – Pet peeve word right here. It just annoys me. I listen to a lot of podcasts, and I feel like this is one of the most overused words in that form of media. See ya!
  • Impactful – I write for a fundraising office, so this is one of those words I encounter near daily. I’ve met enough people that can’t stand this word (or think it’s not a word) that I now avoid it completely. So long!
  • Fake News – UGH. I never want to hear this again (don’t worry–I know I will). Can I throw “Make ____ Great Again” into the mix here? Is it just me being a curmudgeon or are jokes that involve either of these two phrases the farthest thing from funny or clever? Buh-bye!
  • Hot Water Heater – Well this sure seems incredibly random. How this jumped into the top 14 is a mystery, but I agree that there must be a word that’s more fun and less redundant. Megakettle? Aquamagic?

That last suggestion brings me to my next segment. As I’ve posted about previously, I love thinking about words that should exist and creating new words and their definitions. Are there any words that you think should exist? Any words we’ll need in the coming year? The list below is the best I could come up with in 30 minutes, so I clearly need help to build this out.

New Words for 2018:

  • Autoshrug – When spell check/autocorrect has zero suggestions for the word you just attempted to type.
  • Drowsinertia – A state in which one is too tired to make the effort to go to bed. Also known as the Great Couch Conundrum.
  • Nostalgiobama – A sense of longing for previous presidents. Le sigh.
  • Roboboogie – A reaction to the realization that robots are going to take over and there’s not much to be done about it. Might as well boogie! Full credit to Flight of the Conchords for this idea, but I’d like to formalize the word. 
  • Dogecoin – Like bitcoin, but with much wow. Update: my sources have informed me that this is actually already a thing. (Cover image: heavy.com).

Since that last one wasn’t even kind of a suggested new word + definition, I should probably stop.

All jokes aside, I really do love thinking about trends in language, and how we use language to drive our goals and frame our lives.

One thing I keep telling myself is that amid the awful moments of the past year, the spotlight on longstanding issues could at least be a step toward addressing them. And the words we use and focus on are an important part of this. I have some hope. After all, Merriam-Webster has their own word list for 2017. Their #1 Word of the Year? Feminism.

Any words come to mind that you’d like to ditch in 2017? Any new words for 2018?

 

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