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"Fake News," "covfefe" top this year's banned words list

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

“Fake news” is real news today.     

President Donald Trump’s favorite way of describing news reports he doesn’t like tops this year’s list of banned words and phrases.

Lake Superior State University has been producing its annual tongue-in-cheek list of overused words and phrases for more than 40 years.   

List editor John Shibley says “fake news” received more nominations from the general public than any other word or phrase on the list.

“It’s telling you how to think. And I think a lot of people are rebelling against that notion,” says Shibley.

Also making the banned words list this year is “covfefe," which is not actually a word, just a typo from one of the president’s many tweets.

Shibley says it’s the first typo to earn a spot on the list.

Here’s the entire list of LSSU’s banned words and phrases:

  • 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 surely suffice.
  • Dish - As in to dish out the latest rumor on someone. Let's go back to "talks about" and leave dishes 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 something 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 autocorrect feature.
  • Drill down - Instead of expanding on a statement, we "drill down on it."
  • Fake news - Once upon a time, stories could be empirically disproved. Now "fake news" is any story you disagree with.
  • Hot water heater - Hot water does not need to be heated. "Water heater" or "hot water maker" will keep us out of hot water.
  • Gig economy - Gigs are for musicians and stand up comedians. Now expanded to imply a sense of freedom and a lifestyle that rejects tradition in a changing economic culture. Runs a risk of sharecropping.
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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