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In Focus

Lake Superior State University has once again released their list of Banished Words for 2023. I’ve always found this interesting and entertaining. Here is the list of the banished words and terms and the reasons for their banishment:

GOAT: The acronym for Greatest of All Time gets the goat of petitioners and judges for overuse, misuse, and uselessness. “Applied to everyone and everything from athletes to chicken wings,”... ironically, “goat” once suggested something unsuccessful; now, it is an indiscriminate flaunt.

I’ve heard this used a lot, but it’s not something I commonly say. I lean toward’ll have to Google that one.

Inflection point: Mathematical term that entered everyday parlance and lost its original meaning. This year’s version of “pivot,” banished in 2021. “Chronic throat-clearing from historians, journalists, scientists, or politicians.”

I’ve honestly never heard this used, and I spend way too much time on social media.

Quiet quitting: Trendy but inaccurate. An employee who completes the minimum requirements for a position. Some nominator reasons: “normal job performance,” “nothing more than companies complaining about workers refusing to be exploited.”

This on the other hand is quite the topic. People who work harder than others receive the same pay, so why work harder than you have to? But the term doesn’t seem fitting for the situation. On the other end, I suspect “performance punishment” will end up on this list. This is when you are too good at your job, so you get more tasks without extra pay.

Gaslighting: Nominators are not crazy by arguing that overuse disconnects the term from the real concern it has identified in the past: dangerous psychological manipulation that causes victims to distrust their thoughts, feelings, memories, or perception of reality. Other cited misuse: an incorrect catchall to refer generally to conflict or disagreement.

Especially in the last year, I have heard this used a lot, and entirely for the wrong reasons. I think people find a neat word or phrase and try to turn it into something it’s not.

Moving forward: Misuse, overuse, and uselessness. “Where else would we go?” since we can’t, in fact, travel backward in time. “May also refer to ‘get my way.” Politicians and bosses often wield it for “semantic legitimacy” of self-interest, evasion, or disingenuousness.

Not something I’ve heard used too often. Usually I hear “moving on” when trying to get people off a topic and on to something else.

Amazing: “Not everything is amazing; and when you think about it, very little is,” a dissenter explained. “This glorious word should be reserved for that which is dazzling, moving, or awe-inspiring,” to paraphrase another, “like the divine face of a newborn.” It was initially banished for misuse, overuse, and uselessness in 2012.

This I get. I tend to use “outstanding” but more in a sarcastic way. Awesome is still a go to word for me. Sometimes we just don’t know what to say.

Does that make sense?: Submitters rejected the desire, perhaps demand, for clarification or affirmation as filler, insecurity, and passive aggression. “Why say it, if you must ask? It just doesn’t make sense!” In this call for reassurance or act of false modesty, enquirers warp respondents into “co-conspirators,” deduced another. Needy, scheming, and/or cynical. Judges opined: Always make sense; don’t think aloud or play games!

This is one of those phrases that tends to instantly irritate me when I hear it. It makes me think I’m being referred to as stupid. If I don’t understand something I’ll ask. Although saying “IF that makes sense” doesn’t bug me. Guess I’m just wired differently. Let’s just stop using phrases that make people feel dumb.

Irregardless: It’s not a word. At most, it’s a nonstandard word, per some dictionaries. “Regardless” suffices. Opponents disqualified it as a double negative. One conveyed that the prefix “ir” + “regardless” = redundancy.

Seriously, it’s not a word. People have argued with me over this. I’m still not sure why this hasn’t been on the list yet.

Absolutely: Banished in 1996, but deserves a repeat nope given its overuse. Condemned as “the current default to express agreement, endemically present on TV in one-on-one interviews.” Frequently “said too loudly by annoying people who think they’re better than you,” bemoaned an aggrieved observer.

This one is just funny. It’s another go-to word for people who don’t know what else to say. My go-to in this situation is “right”, don’t know why, but I guess it is what it is.

It is what it is: Banished in 2008 for overuse, misuse, and uselessness: “pointless,” “cop-out,” “Only Yogi Berra should be allowed to utter such a circumlocution.” Its resurgence prompted these insights: “Well, duh.” “No kidding.” “Adds no value.” “Verbal crutch.” “Excuse not to deal with reality or accept responsibility.” “Dismissive, borderline rude.”

*Cough*...I didn’t think saying it was being rude...

Well, I learned something today. Maybe you did too. I still find this fun to read—especially the reasons behind the word getting banned. What words or phrases would you like to see banned? I suspect “thirst trap” , “CEO” and “Life Hack” will appear, if they haven’t already.

For more about the Banished Words List and to nominate a word or term for banishment for 2024, go online to


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