Title

2021 Banished Words List

January 4, 2021
 
 

"COVID-19" tops Lake Superior State University's annual list of words to banish. Since 1976, Lake Superior has started the new year with a list of words "that are overworked, redundant, oxymoronic, clichéd, illogical, nonsensical -- and otherwise ineffective, baffling, or irritating."

The committee at Lake Superior said that "a large number of nominators are clearly resentful of the virus and how it has overtaken our vocabulary. No matter how necessary or socially and medically useful these words are, the committee cannot help but wish we could banish them along with the virus itself."

Other words (or phrases) on the list also relate to the pandemic: "social distancing," "we're all in this together," "in an abundance of caution," "in these uncertain times," "pivot" and "unprecedented."

Three nonpandemic words made the list:

Karen -- "What began as an anti-racist critique of the behavior of white women in response to Black and Brown people has become a misogynist umbrella term for critiquing the perceived overemotional behavior of women."

Sus -- "It’s a shortened version for 'suspicious' in the video game Among Us. No committee members play, but our children who do explained that this multiplayer online social game is designed around identifying 'sus' imposters so they can be 'thrown into the lava.' Complainers a) ask: How much effort does it take to say the entire word; and b) request: If that can’t happen, confine the syllable to the gaming world."

I know, right? -- "An amusing phrase flooding social media, "I know, right?" is a relatively new construction to convey empathy with those who have expressed agreement. But as one wordsmith put it, if you know, why do you need to ask if it’s correct or seek further approval? Another grammarian suggested that the desire for confirmation connotes insecurity. In other words, it’s reiterating something already seconded."

Nominate words for banishment in 2022 here.

Be the first to know.
Get our free daily newsletter.

 

We have retired comments and introduced Letters to the Editor. Letters may be sent to [email protected].

Read the Letters to the Editor  »

 

Opinions on Inside Higher Ed

Inside Higher Ed’s Blog U

Back to Top