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writing for godot

Banned Words and Phrases for 2018

Written by ElaineDecker   
Tuesday, 02 January 2018 07:51

As we round the bend into 2018, it’s time for my annual list of banned words and phrases. I had hoped that, in a departure from last year, they would not be inspired by the presidential election or political mayhem. Fat chance. That influence is inescapable. However, unlike the CDC in Trump’s administration, I’m not forbidding the use of science-based, evidence-based, transgender or diversity. I also chose to take a pass on killing ‘covfefe.’ That’s so over already anyway.

The first word on my 2018 list is ‘sad,’ especially ‘so sad,’ and (worse yet) ‘sad, so sad.’ This word has become so overused that it’s at risk of losing all meaning. We need to save what’s left of it for things that are real tear-jerkers, like six-hankie movies. Or the Syrian and Rohingyan refugees. Consider those uses exempt from the injunction.

Fie on any compilers of 2018’s banned words who don’t include ‘fake news.’ Our president sees two types of news: sympathetic articles that agree with him, and fake news. Certain media outlets are never in his favor and hence are always assumed to be purveyors of fake. So there’s no need for him to call them out on that.

Another phrase that Trump uses ad nauseam that I’m tossing onto the ash heap of lexicography is: ‘That I can tell you.’ In 2017, I dispossessed folks of ‘believe me.’ ‘That I can tell you’ became its replacement, often followed up by ‘I have proof,’ but that professed proof is never presented. You might as well give up ‘I have proof,’ too. That will save me having to ban it in 2019.

Last year I took ‘rigged’ away from everyone. This year I’m following up that prohibition with one against ‘crooked.’ Consider this as punishment for those who continued to use ‘rigged’ against code. I dare you to find another similar word for me to go after in 2019.

I refuse to let anyone say ‘collusion’ in 2018. I put this word on my banned list even before the president used it 16 times in his end of December interview with the NY Times. I don’t care which side of the political aisle you’re on; you need another way to describe it. I’m not naïve enough to think we can live without the concept of collusion. How about using ‘secret cooperation’ instead? I can always outlaw that next year.

It may come as a surprise that I’m also forbidding ‘#metoo.’ While I support the movement, the generic hashtag has become a cliché. It’s been applied to such a broad spectrum of offenses that it’s lost it’s meaning. Harassment is a serious problem. We need to focus on the most egregious examples if we expect to create change. If folks want to hashtag a personal experience, let them be more specific, as in #mepinched or #mebuttslapped.

I’m also done with ‘tipping point.’ Too many bad behaviors reached tipping points last year—fraternity hazing, sexual predation. Likewise for climate change—the California fires, hurricane flooding, polar ice melt. The idea that we don’t pay attention to these issues until they reach a tipping point is unacceptable. If I ban ‘tipping point,’ there’s a chance we’ll address such problems as soon as they arise and not wait for them to tip out of control.

By now we should all have had our fill of the meme inspired by the Bud Light medieval-themed commercials. I’m referring to ‘dilly dilly.’ I’ve always enjoy the refrain when sung in “Lavender Blue,” the 1959 hit by Sammy Turner But the meme has gotten out of hand. Ben Roethlisberger even used it as a snap count in a November NFL game. Really? Admit it. Dilly dilly has become silly silly.

Here’s a phrase that I can do without, and you have CNN correspondent Dana Bash to thank for this one. In 2018, you will no longer be able to ‘put a button on it.’ Find another way to say that you’re summing up the conversation or debate. By the way, ‘put a button on it’ just barely edged out ‘put a pin in it’ for this year’s list.

Finally, say goodbye to ‘pleasure’ when it’s used as a verb, as in “to pleasure oneself.” The images this conjures up make me gag, especially if it’s Harvey Weinstein doing it. It also ruins the word 'pleasure' when it’s used as a noun, and that’s a perfectly good word.

With mid-term elections taking place in 2018, I expect to collect some treasures to ban in 2019. But for now, let’s just put a pin in this.

Copyright 2018 Elaine M. Decker

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