BOSTON (Reuters) - This story might be epic, and could even go viral, but not if Lake Superior State University has anything to do with it. Just sayin.’
The small college in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, released on Friday its annual list of “banished words” — terms so overused, misused and hackneyed they deserve to be sent to a permanent linguistic trash can in the year ahead.
“Viral,” often used to describe the rapid spreading of videos or other content over the Internet, leads the list for 2011.
“This linguistic disease of a term must be quarantined,” Kuahmel Allah of Los Angeles said in making a nomination.
Runners-up included “epic” and “fail,” often twinned to describe a blunder of monumental proportions.
A total of 14 words were on the list.
Cliched terms such as “wow factor,” “a-ha moment,” “back story” and “BFF” (Best Friends Forever) rated highly. The very au courant use of “Facebook” and “Google” as verbs got a thumbs down as well.
As usual, election-cycle zingers and catchwords quickly look as worn out as last year’s campaign posters.
In that vein, voters suggested the banning of “Mama Grizzlies,” used to describe right-wing female politicians in the mold of Sarah Palin, and “man up,” famously used by Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharon Angle in a testy debate with Democrat Harry Reid and a favorite Palin expression as well.
“A stupid phrase when directed at men. Even more stupid when directed at a woman, as in ‘Alexis, you need to man up and join that Pilates class!’” said Sherry Edwards of Clarkston, Michigan.
LSSU began its popular list in 1976, when it named “at this point in time,” as substituted for the concise and elegant “now,” as a linguistic dud. The college now receives well over 1,000 nominations each year through its website, lssu.edu/banished.
Previous winners and nominees include the terms “shovel ready” for 2010, “battleground states” for 2005, “24/7” for 2000 and “family values” for 1995.
Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Jerry Norton