Writers Tricks of the Trade Volume 7, Issue 4 Winter 2018 - Page 19
Once again, thanks to grumpyeditor.com for alerting us to Lake Superior State University’s
43 RD A NNUAL L IST O F B ANISHED W ORDS
The wordsmiths at Lake Superior State University eschewed “fake news” and
released LSSU’s 43rd annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s Eng-
lish for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.
“We’ve drilled down and unpacked tons of pre-owned words and
phrases deemed impactful by hundreds of nominators during 2017,” said an
LSSU’s word banishment
tradition is now
in its sink
decade, and was started by the late W. T.
Rabe, a public relations director at Lake Superior State University.
Rabe and fellow LSSU faculty and staff came up with the first list of words and phrases that
people love to hate at a New Year’s Eve party in 1975, publishing it on Jan. 1, 1976. Though he and
his friends created the first list from their own pet peeves about language, Rabe said he knew from
the volume of mail he received in the following weeks that the group would have no shortage of
words and phrases from which to choose for 1977. Since then, the list has consisted entirely of
nominations received from around the world throughout the year.
Through the years, LSSU has received tens of thousands of nominations for the list, which now
includes almost 900 entries. Word-watchers target pet peeves from everyday speech, as well as
from the news, fields of education, technology, advertising, politics and more. An editor makes a
final cut in late December.
This should be of interest to all writers out there, so now...
T HE 2018 L IST :
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 sure-
Dish – As in to dish out the latest rumor on someone. Let’s go back to ‘talks about’ and leave dish-
es 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 some-
thing 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 autocor-
W RITERS ’ T RICKS OF THE T RADE
P AGE 11
W INTER 2018