2011's List of (Literally) Banished Words and Phrases

Trite, pompous, or incorrect, these assaults on the English tongue need to go


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EVERY NEW YEAR’S DAY, Lake Superior State University unveils its list of Banished Words. In honor of that roster — a tradition begun in 1976 by the Sault Ste. Marie school — we offer Hour Detroit’s fourth annual list of nominations for the word-shredder. Look for the official LSSU list at lssu.edu/banished.

> RESTAURATEUR: There’s no “n” in this word.

> FLAUTIST: The word is flutist, one who plays the flute, not the flaut.

> ARMAGEDDON: Way too dramatic when referring to the possible government shutdown earlier this year. It happened in the 1990s, and it wasn’t Armageddon. In fact, it’s hardly remembered. Additionally, many equate Armageddon with the end of the world. In fact, it’s the place where the epic battle between good and evil will take place before Judgment Day.

> CLOSURE. We need closure from “closure.”

> MUST-HAVE, as in a “must-have shoe.” It sounds like advertising copy, and it has wormed its way into journalism.

> OFTENTIMES: Often means the same thing. And remember: The “t” is silent.

> REGIME is not a synonym for regimen. It’s an exercise regimen.

> Enough of the overworked expression “IT IS WHAT IT IS.”

> ENTITLED: Just “titled” works fine. People may be entitled to do something, but a book or CD is simply titled something. And you can usually omit “titled” anyway.

> Shortcut geography leads to vagueness and confusion. For instance, there’s no such place as BLOOMFIELD. There’s a Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township, and West Bloomfield Township. (Bloomfield Village is a neighborhood, by the way.) The same holds true for MACOMB. Do you mean Macomb County or Macomb Township? Ditto for GROSSE POINTE. There is a City of Grosse Pointe, but there are four other Pointes: Grosse Pointe Park, Farms, Woods, and Shores.

> While we’re ragging about geography, let’s correct people who call Midtown and the New Center “DOWNTOWN.” These Detroit neighborhoods are not downtown. And please don’t refer to Hamtramck or Highland Park as “DETROIT.” They’re separate cities.

>WORLD-CLASS,” as in world-class orchestra, world-class city. This cliché needs to be hauled to the Dumpster.

> LITERALLY. Even in the rare case when it’s used correctly, this word needs a rest, particularly from people in the media, who should know the difference between literally and figuratively.

> Beginning a sentence with the grammatical abomination “HER AND I” or “ME AND MY FRIEND” has to go. What happened to the simple courtesy of putting oneself last in grammar? That could help offenders see how lowbrow their speech is.  One wouldn’t say “Her went to the store,” so say: “She and I went to the store.”

>TA.” It’s “to.”

> Saying “AS WELL AS” is fine, but “too,” is simpler and usually suffices. Puffing up your word count doesn’t make you sound more intelligent.

> Use of the word “CURATED” has migrated from reference to a fine-arts selection to an edited array of anything from food to household products.

> YOUNG, as in “We want a young, hip vibe.” OK, but let’s not make “old” a pejorative.

>ORIENTATED.” It’s pronounced oriented.

> TOWARDS. The “s” isn’t necessary.

> ECK-SPECIALLY. It’s pronounced Es-specially.

> She’s 8 YEARS OF AGE. (Common in bureaucratic and law-enforcement circles.) Simpler: She’s 8.

> FOODIE. In cooking parlance, it’s overdone.

> Saying “VANILLA” to describe A) white people, B) boring people, C) the suburbs. As a metaphor for bland or pale, it’s incorrect. Baked goods would taste boring without vanilla. And vanilla (the extract and bean) are brown, by the way.

> WORKING OUT. What happened to exercise?

> ARTISANAL means made by skilled craftsmen. Not every small-batch, “handmade” product qualifies.

> ORGANIC, when used to describe anything that looks as though it belongs in a given place — especially in things architectural.


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