Words to Ban in 2020

Lake Superior State issues annual list of words to avoid.

January 2, 2020
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Lake Superior State University has released its 45th annual List of Words Banished From the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.

The word-banishment tradition, created by the late W. T. Rabe, former public relations director at Lake Superior State, is now in its fifth decade.

Rabe and fellow LSSU faculty and staff came up with the first list of words and phrases that people love to hate at a New Year’s Eve party in 1975, publishing it on Jan. 1, 1976.

This year’s list is culled from nominations received mostly through the university’s website.

The most nominated word or phrase for 2020 was quid pro quo.

Several word that made the list were "words that attempt to make something more than it is," Lake Superior State said. Among those on the list: artisanal, curated and influencer.

Other words or phrases were banished for "pretentiousness or imprecision." Among them were literally, I mean, living my best life and mouthfeel.

Millennials were blamed for other words on the list: chirp (except for birds), jelly (when an abbreviation of "jealous"), totes (for totally) and vibe or vibe check.

Last but not least: OK, Boomer.

An archive of words and phrases banished in prior years may be found here.

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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