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:

  1. GOAT
  2. Inflection point
  3. Quiet quitting
  4. Gaslighting
  5. Moving forward
  6. Amazing
  7. Does that make sense?
  8. Irregardless
  9. Absolutely
  10. 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.

Sponsor Message

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

83 responses »

  1. I would dearly love to banish the use of the word ‘Awesome’ to describe anything that is not genuinely awe-inspiring. The everyday use of that word has been imported here from America, and is causing me much distress.
    An example.
    “Fancy meeting for a drink and a pizza later?”
    Unacceptable to me.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. “Irregardless” is my pet peeve. A glaring double negative. And in my book, not a real word. But the ubiquitous use of the term has forced Miriam-Webster to list is as a non-standard word. Hearing is like nails on a chalkboard for me. Fun post, Beth!

    Liked by 4 people

    • this one really causes upset and ‘discussion’ between people, it rankles me too. we all have those words that annoy us, and I love to see what they choose to ‘banish’ each year)

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Just learned about the inflection point…. First new knowledge in 23!
    I like awesome and amazing…. Because I’m literally amazed at least once a day, so how could I ban this word.
    GOAT i only came across in YT shorts when I realised what it means nowadays. Thought it rather funny especially when the most adored (awesome, amazing, anyone?) actress didn‘t know it either!
    I‘m getting annoyed with the It is what it is…. Come on, move forward!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A couple of years ago I got called GOAT by someone and it was picked up by others who also started calling me a GOAT. I was insulted for about 5 weeks, until I asked someone I trusted why I was being called that. Now, I don’t hear it anywhere anymore. Irregardless is one of those words that either make me cringe or simply just roll my eyes and shake my head. But nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to our language. It hasn’t surprised me since I first learned that EVOO was being added to the dictionary because that’s what Rachel Ray calls Extra Virgin Olive Oil and it got picked up by amateur and professional chefs alike!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Some people don’t have enough to do, if they spend their time limiting vocabularies of others. If you read anything published more than a few years ago, you must frame it in context, simply to understand what you are reading.

    Lately, I’m stymied by all the unexplained acronyms of organizations world-wide that claim expertise or influence but rely on meaningless letters to identify themselves, like DARPA.

    A goat is an animal, the symbol used for the sign Capricorn, and noted for its abilities to climb steadily and sure footedly up steep slopes.

    Think of the diversity of language, its historical and cultural roots. Socrates insisted on clear definitions, suggesting that clear definitions help clarify thought itself. But Socrates didn’t do his own writing. We must depend on tranlations from Plato to “grok” the essences of ancient linguistic wisdom.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Me, too, but it’s confusing when the subtle variations shift interpretation.
        For instance, sarcasm is often revealed by tone of voice or body language, but the written word conveys none of the intent.
        Consider the glyph for Democrats in the US: donkey, but the under-or over-educated might use the synonym “ass”. Or, the year of the “rooster” in Chinese astrology used to be called the year of the “cock”.

        Who in another culture or place in time might understand the subtle variations of meaning or intent in those words?

        Liked by 2 people

    • Katharine; I think I got annoyed beyond normal use of language when I lived in France. There doesn’t a day go by w/o a few new acronyms I (and nobody else either) got created and thrown around. I can deal with the English ones, but with the French ones I just got annoyed. They have such a rich language; they should use it….
      We in Switzerland generally don’t speak in acronyms (apart from HH who’s throwing them around in business matters as if they were confetti), my main beef is that he (whose mother tongue is Swiss-French) and I (Swiss-German) never seem to agree which political party is what because our abbreviations are so different!

      Liked by 1 person

        • the term comes from a classic film and it describes the following : gaslighting is to
          manipulate (someone) using psychological methods into questioning their own sanity or powers of reasoning. I think the term being on this list is because of people overusing it in all kinds of situations and not knowing what it really means.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I thought the same; we mostly know it from ‘famous’ ppl being ‘gaslighted’ – and I imagine most writers don’t really know how to use it. I never gaslighted anyone nor will I. So it’s definitely not on my list of overused words. BUT it is also a real thing and THAT is annoying!

          Liked by 2 people

  6. I learned something new this morning. I wasn’t aware of GOAT used in this way. I would definitely banish #10, “It is what it is,” from our vocabulary. I find that phrase uncaring and dismissive and inwardly cringe every time someone says that to me or I hear it.

    I’d absolutely (ha ha) ban absolutely and amazing and one other meaningless “a” word– awesome. I cannot stand that overused word which holds no value.

    Thanks for this awesome post. Whoops, strike that. Maybe amazing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I first began to hear goat with regard to quarterback Tom Brady and it grew from there for me. yes, certain words…and I’m guilty of saying thank you in advance…)


  7. I can identify with this post so much. There are certain overused phrases that make me want to gag when I hear them each day. I agree with most of this year’s nominees. Banish is a strong word. Let’s just say I’d like to hear them far less. Of course, we know other objectionable phrases will replace them, and the cycle will continue. “It is what it is” has been on my list for years.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Oh my goodness, this post is preaching to my choir. Irregardless makes me feel ill. I love that typing it here, it is underlined… M-W might have accepted it but WP doesn’t! Awesome is another one that has become a standard answer to “yes”. Wanna go for a drink? Awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I used to comment on this banished list every year, but one look at it this year and I threw up my hands. Just couldn’t face some of those words. “Goat,” to me, will always be either the animal or the butt of a joke (yes, if you are old enough, that’s what it means). “Irregardless” will always be a non-word. And I was disappointed that “curate” wasn’t on the list, although it did appear several years ago.

    Apologies to those who object to “awesome.” I use it without thinking, unless “cool” slips out instead. (I blame my age and my grandkids.)

    BTW, that’s a very handsome goat at the top.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s not the term itself, it’s a very real thing, but rather the overuse of it in situations where it doesn’t make sense to use it and people don’t really understand the meaning.


  10. Beth, Pete sent me this way to see what you had to say on something similar I wrote. Great minds and all that. As for ‘irregardless’ I got in a mess of hurt when I was in high school for pointing out that the principal had just used a word that doesn’t exist. He didn’t take it well

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I used to call my professor from grad school a “goat” because he resembled the face of the animal. Now I feel a little cliche! There seems to be a lot of prejudice against the A words? Amazing, absolutely, and awesome. This is going to be challenging. Hugs, C

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s