15 words banned in the US

Posted by andreaitis on December 31, 2009

Not-so-pocket dictionary v. 2.0

Image by autumn_bliss via Flickr

Happy New Year, everyone.  The first 2010 list is out already and it’s a good thing.  According to the Lake Superior State University 2010 List of Banished Words, you have just hours left to use 15 words that will be vaporized when the clock strikes midnight.

Word “czars” at Lake Superior State University “unfriended” 15 words and phrases and declared them “shovel-ready” for inclusion on the university’s 35th annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.

“The list this year is a ‘teachable moment’; conducted free of ‘tweets'” said a Word Banishment spokesman who was ‘chillaxin’ for the holidays.

via Lake Superior State University :: Banished Words List

The annual banned words list got its start at a New Year’s Eve party in 1975, when former LSSU Public Relations Director Bill Rabe and friends came up with the concept of “word banishment.”   What makes them the overlords of word overuse?  First, they thought of it.  And second, when you go to Lake Superior I guess you’re entitled to work your superiority.  ::: snap :::

Every year they get tens of thousands of nominations.   A couple of my unfavorites actually made it on the list this year.

The first one I can barely type, as it’s cringe-inducing every time.   T-W-E-E-T.   I don’t mind the Twitter-combinations as much, but uttering t-w-e-e-t in any form makes me feel like @ev and @biz are having a good laugh at the expense of humankind, as a golden bell rings with each tweet-age.   Here’s the explanation from the experts:


And all of its variations…tweetaholic, retweet, twitterhea, twitterature, twittersphere…

“People tweet and retweet and I just heard the word ‘tweet’ so many times it lost all meaning.” – Ricardo, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico.

Mikhail Swift of Hillman, Mich. says the tweeting is “pointless…yet has somehow managed to take the nation by storm. I’m tired of hearing about celebrity X’s new tweet, and how great of a tweeter he or she is.”

“I don’t know a single non-celebrity who actually uses it,” says Alex Thompson of Sault St. Marie, Mich.

Jay Brazier of Williamston, Mich. says she supposes that tweeters might be “twits.”

Twit-wits, indeed.   Which is actually what I think every time I hear the next word:  chillaxin’.  Now, some new words deserve to be created, like snarktastic.  It takes two different concepts and rolls them into one.  Chillaxin’ does none of that.   Chill and Relax mean the same thing, you can use them interchangeably.


“Chillax is the most ridiculously stupid non-word ever.  EVER.  Argh, I need to chill.”

“Chillax is the most ridiculously stupid non-word ever.  EVER.  Argh, I need to relax.”

See?  No diff.  So what’s the point? The Lake Superiors concur:


Nominated for several years. We couldn’t chill about it anymore.

“Heard everywhere from MTV to ESPN to CNN. A bothersome term that seeks to combine chillin’ with relaxin’ makes me want to be ‘axin’ this word.” – Tammy, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

“A made-up word used by annoying Gen-Yers.” – Chris Jensen, Fond du Lac, Wisc.

“Horrifying overuse, even in face-to-face conversation… It should receive bonus points for its ability to exhort the opposite reaction from the receiver.” – Bret Bledsoe, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Totally agree, Bret Bledsoe.  It’s not even the overuse that bugs me.  It’s the existence and acknowledgement of ‘chillaxin’ as a word.   It is not a real word;  it’s a faux phrase created by someone too lazy to even really try creating a new word.

Here’s  the list of what else you can’t say after the Happy New Year ball drops:

1. Shovel-ready

2. Transparent/Transparency

3. Czar

4. App

5. Sexting

6. Friend as a Verb

7. Teachable Moment

8. In These Economic Times

9. Stimulus

10. Toxic Assets

11. Too Big to Fail

12. Bromance

13. Obama prefix or roots

and, of course

14. Tweet

15. Chillaxin’

You can see the Word Superiority Selection Commitee’s reasoning here.

In an effort to cram them all in one last time before the calendar changes from 2009 to 2010, how many can you use in a sentence?

My shot:

I’m almost done tweeting about how, in these economic times, we need to friend a stimulus czar to regulate transparency of teachable moments that will surely occur during  the Obamafication of a sexting app targeted at too big to fail bromances illustrating how  shovel-ready we are to bury the toxic assets and grab some chillaxin’ time with new episodes of Jersey Shore.

C’mon.  Sentences, haiku, rap lyrics.  Showmewhatchoogot.


4 Responses to “15 words banned in the US”

  1. Roger Theriault said

    Too late I guess, but I’d like to nominate “inappropriate” for its severe over-use.

    Based on usage, I’d guess its definition was “you’re doing something that bugs me”.

  2. It’s already the New Year in Asia, which already has more English speakers than here, so the list is already Shovel Ready!

  3. andreaitis said

    Thanks for the teachable moment, Steve. Asia = Too Big to Fail

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