2012's Wonky Cachet of Bad Words

Bad Words: They’re trite, pretentious, overused, or just plain wrong. Here are our nominees for the word Dumpster


Every New Year’s Day, Lake Superior State University (LSSU) unveils its list of Banished Words.  In honor of that roster — a tradition begun in 1975 by that school — we offer Hour Detroit’s fifth annual list of nominations for the word shredder. Look for the LSSU list at lssu.edu/banished.

  • LGBTQ. The growing alphabet of categories for sexuality. (Sounds like a deli order. Hold the lettuce?)
  • Craft Cocktail. Just call them mixed drinks. (Also, mixologist. Bartender is less pretentious.)
  • Baby Bump.
  • Matchy-matchy is as trite as the coordinated appearance it describes.
  • Gets it (or got it) as a synonym for understands.
  • Ahead of. Just say before.
  • One Percenters used as a blanket reference to upper-income people.
  • Mispronunciation of the prefix “ex” as “eggs.” For eggsample: eggscerpt or eggsorcism. Let’s eggstinguish this sloppy speech.
  • Mispronunciation of "Semitic" (as if it’s “Semetic,” with an “e.”)
  • Statistical dead heat in political races.
  • Look. This is the latest habit of TV/radio correspondents and talking heads. (NPR’s Cokie Roberts said it three times in one recent report.) It comes off as punitive and condescending.
  • Alongside. How about just with?
  • Devolve. This devolved into overuse.
  • “Hone in on.” It’s home in on; hone means to sharpen, as in honing one’s skills.
  • Grey. It’s spelled gray in this country. We’re not British.
  • Enthused, as in “He’s really enthused about it.” Enthusiastic is the adjective.
  • Confusing cache with cachet. The first is pronounced “cash,” and means a trove or stash. Cachet (pronounced cash-A) means prestige.
  • “Thank you in advance” is a business-letter affectation that assumes compliance.
  • Grab lunch. Almost as bad as the once-ubiquitous “do lunch.” “Grab” sounds barbaric.
  • Huh? This Cro-Magnon grunt is no substitute for “Pardon?”
  • Urban as code-speak.
  • Cautiously optimistic. A wretched cliché, particularly among politicians.
  • Ever, as in “I had the best time ever.”
  • ’em as affected folksy shorthand for “them.”
  • Foreseeable future. As opposed to what the Ouija board tells us?
  • Viral (going viral). What will we do, heaven forbid, if we have a real viral outbreak?
  • Wonky. It’s tired and vaguely critical of people who are smart.
  • Down there, when referring to Detroit.
  • Post-pregnancy body. Enough already.
  • Robbery gone wrong. Is there such a thing as a robbery gone right?
  • "So" as nonsensical filler word, used especially by those being interviewed.
  • Cult favorite. Makes us think of Kool-Aid and Waco, Texas.
  • Boasts: As in, “The neighborhood boasts tennis courts.” Not only does it sound like ad copy, but a neighborhood can’t boast anything. People boast. Just say “has.”
  • Infused. Way, way overused in drink and menu descriptions. Same for artisanal, which is becoming affected.


Perennial Offenders

Since 2008, we’ve run our annual Bad Words list. These abominations have been mentioned before, but they continue to grate on us.

  • Kinda, sort of
  • Using “real” and “really” interchangeably.
  • Iconic, icon
  • Passion
  • Impact for effect
  • Misusing “literally”
  • Predominately (It’s predominantly!)
  • Preventative. Syllable-inflation alert — it’s preventive.
  • Using sunk as the past tense of sink.
  • More importantly. It’s more important.
  • It really pops.
  • Artfully (when artistically is correct).
  • Sneak peek
  • Where are you at? (Or worse, where you at?)
  • Utilize for use.
  • Authored
  • Absolutely
  • Hero
  • A whole nother thing
  • I graduated high school. An impossibility. How does someone graduate a high school?
  • Entitled as a synonym for titled.
  • At the end of the day.
  • Gone missing
  • He’s a genius.
  • My bad
  • Perfect! Amazing! Awesome! Incredible! (Time to stop the abuse of superlatives.)
  • Quirky
  • Invite as a noun. It’s an invitation.
  • Oftentimes. Try often or frequently.
  • “Must-have.” This overused darling of fashion mags and wags implies overwrought consumerism and greed.
  • Close proximity. It’s redundant.
  • Saying regime when you mean regimen. The Today Show’s Savannah Guthrie said it three times in a report on a guest’s exercise regime. (And she went to law school?)
  • Mom (and soccer mom)
  • Price point is an instance of industry (retail) speak that leached into general use. Say price. What’s the point?
  • Using myself in place of me.
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