When was the last time you called someone a GOAT? Or declared an “inflection point,” or answered a yes-or-no question with “absolutely”?
Probably too recently, say the faculty of Lake Superior State University, the Michigan college that releases an annual list of words that they say deserve to be “banished” from our vocabularies over “misuse, overuse and uselessness.”
“Our nominators insisted, and our Arts and Letters faculty judges concurred, that to decree the Banished Words List 2023 as the GOAT is tantamount to gaslighting. Does that make sense?” said Rodney S. Hanley, the university’s president. “Irregardless, moving forward, it is what it is: an absolutely amazing inflection point of purposeless and ineptitude that overtakes so many mouths and fingers,” Hanley added.
Here’s the full list of the school’s banished words for this year:
- Inflection point
- Quiet quitting
- Moving forward
- Does that make sense?
- It is what it is
Out of over 1,500 nominations — from people across the U.S. and as far afield as New Zealand and Namibia — judges declared that this year’s top offender was “GOAT,” the acronym for “greatest of all time.”
Nominators and faculty alike found the term objectionable due both to its impossibility – how can anyone declare a single best of all time when another may come along in the future – and the liberal way the title is dispensed these days.
“The singularity of ‘greatest of all time’ cannot happen, no way, no how. And instead of being selectively administered, it’s readily conferred,” said Peter Szatmary, a spokesperson for Lake State.
Lake State’s faculty judges would likely argue that was too many people (and non-people) described as “the greatest of all time.” “Words and terms matter. Or at least they should,” Szatmary said.
Joining “GOAT” in banishment are nine other words and phrases that nominators and judges complained were used so often that they had become disconnected from their literal meanings – like “amazing,” which nominators fretted no longer meant “dazzling” or “awe-inspiring.”
“Not everything is amazing; and when you think about it, very little is,” one nominator noted.
Frequently targeted are of-the-moment phrases like “in these uncertain times” (as so many COVID-related messages began in 2020), “information superhighway” (banished in 1995) and “filmed before a live studio audience” (such a vice it was banished twice, first in 1987 then again in 1990).
“the flowery style is not unsuitable to public speeches or addresses, which amount only to compliment.
the lighter beauties are in their place when there is nothing more solid to say;
but the flowery style ought to be banished from a pleading, a sermon, or a didactic work.
credits: npr, becky sullivan, image, christopher furlong, getty images