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2016 election words & phrases populate LSSU's annual "banned words" list

Lake Superior State University’s annual list of "banned words and phrases" is heavy with contributions linked to the 2016 presidential campaign.    

LSSU has been turning out its year-end tongue-in-cheek list of overused words and phrases for 42 years.

University spokesman John Shibley says it’s not surprising people from across the country turned to bruising election rhetoric for words and phrases that have been so overused they should be banned. 

Shibley says “post-truth” and “echo chamber” were among those election-related words and phrases nominated by people still upset with how the 2016 election divided Americans.

“I think we’re all sort of down in the dumps because we’ve come through a pretty tumultuous year,” says Shibley. “It’s bound to show up on what words and phrases show up on the list.”

Shibley admits they did receive a lot of nominations to ban “President Trump” and “Crooked Hillary," but says they prefer not to include people’s names in their banned words and phrases list.

The ever-changing ways we communicate also earned several spots on the banned list.

From “on fleek” (looking good) to “831” (I love you), texting and social media shorthand irritated enough people to earn spots on the banned works list. 

The list has a shout-out of sorts to internet trolls, who like to attack everything online. “You,sir” was added to the list as a nod to those who spend their time on the internet shaming or dueling with one another.

And for those lovers of irony, “listicle” made the list. A listicle is a list created solely for the purpose of generated page views on websites. The folks at LSSU insist their annual list is excluded from such matters. 

Here’s LSSU’s complete 2016 Banned Words and Phrases list:

You, Sir - Hails from a more civilized era when duels were the likely outcome of disagreements. Today, we suffer on-line trolls and Internet shaming.

Focus - Good word, but overused when concentrate or look at would work fine.  See 1983's banishment of, We Must Focus Our Attention.

Bête Noire - After consulting a listing of synonyms, we gather this to be a bugbear, pet peeve, bug-boo, pain, or pest to our nominators.

Town Hall Meeting - Candidates seldom debate in town halls anymore. Needs to be shown the door along with "soccer mom(s)" and "Joe Sixpack" (banned in 1997).

Post-Truth - To paraphrase the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, we are entitled to our own opinions but not to our own facts.

Guesstimate - When guess and estimate are never enough.

831 - A texting encryption of, I love you: 8 letters, 3 words, 1 meaning. Never encrypt or abbreviate one's love.

Historic - Thrown around far too much. What's considered as such is best left to historians rather than the contemporary media.

Manicured - As in a manicured lawn. Golf greens are the closest grass comes to being manicured.

Echo Chamber - Lather, rinse, and repeat. After a while, everything sounds the same.

On Fleek - Anything that is on-point, perfectly executed, or looking good. Needs to return to its genesis: perfectly groomed eyebrows.

Bigly - Did the candidate say "big league" or utter this 19th-Century word that means, in a swelling blustering manner? Who cares? Kick it out of the echo chamber!

Ghost - To abruptly end communication, especially on social media. Is it rejection angst, or is this word really as overused as word-banishment nominators contend? Either way, our committee feels the pain.

Dadbod - The flabby opposite of a chiseled-body male ideal. Should not empower dads to pursue a sedentary lifestyle.

Listicle - Numbered or bulleted list created primarily to generate views on the Web, LSSU's word-banishment list excluded.

"Get your dandruff up . . . " - The Committee is not sure why this malapropism got nominators' dander up in 2016.

Selfie Drone - In what could be an ominous development, the selfie – an irritating habit of constantly photographing and posting oneself to social media – is being handed off to a flying camera. How can this end badly?

Frankenfruit - Another food group co-opted by "frankenfood." Not to be confused with other forms of genetically modified language.

Disruption - When humanity looks back on zombie buzzwords, they will see disruption bumping into other mixed metaphors for change.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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