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Home » Books & writing

PCN’s Banished Words

Submitted by on January 26, 2012 – 10:06 pm 42 Comments

At the start of the year, Lake Superior State University published its annual list of words and phrases it feels should be banished. I perused the list and found that several are not that offensive. “Amazing”? “Baby bump”? “Trickeration”? I’ve never even heard of that last one (I don’t watch sports), much less be sick of it.

So I decided to compile my own list of words that I wish would go away, because they’re annoying, abused, misused, or they just don’t make any sense to me. I want to stop making the expression in this picture because it causes wrinkles.

Here goes:

  • Nom nom. Is this supposed to be an onomatopoeia? It doesn’t sound like any noise I’ve ever heard anyone make while eating something delicious. It sounds more like someone chewing with their mouth open.
  • Interwebs. I think someone was being cute, came up with an alternative to Internet—a smush of Internet and World Wide Web?—and then that person’s friend said, “Hey, that’s cute! I’m going to use it, too!” A million people later, it’s not cute anymore.
  • Lurve. In high school, all the “luv” in my yearbook made my teeth hurt, and now it’s the updated version of the lame-ass alternative people use when they can’t or don’t want to say “love.” Say the real word and mean it, or don’t say it at all. Who wants to be lurved?
  • Shit ____say/s. First it was my dad, then it’s girls, black girls, white girls, San Franciscans, L.A. people, rich people, and now even Liz Lemon. Say it isn’t so, NBC. Enough with all the shit already!
  • Can of whoop/whup ass. It’s not 1998 anymore.

  • Grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. I was in a bookstore recently and saw this phrase as a blurb on 1 out of 2 books I picked up. Granted, I was in the mystery/thriller section so this phrase may not be as prevalent on, say, romance novels (unless the characters like a little rough action). But seeing it on so many books I read has made it completely useless to me, and I wish reviewers/blurb writers would let the phrase go.
  • Totes (in place of “totally”). Do I have to say more?
  • Anyhoo. This one confounds me. It’s not a shorter version of “anyhow,” and is spelled almost exactly the same. When you get to that last letter, is it so much easier to type an “o” instead of a “w”?
  • Literally (when it’s not literal at all). Just today, I read that a recently Oscar-nominated actress said, “Literally, like, my brain snapped in two.” Really?

Of course, I’m not literally having conniptions over these words; this is done in ranty fun. Now it’s your turn. What words or phrases would you like to see exiled from our vernacular? Did I use any of them in this post?



  • Eddy says:

    …. in blog comments. It’s gotta go.

  • Lauren says:

    I have to admit, ‘baby bump’ (and baby mama and baby daddy and all that baby crap)…well, I was going to say bugs me, but from what I’ve just written I suppose I have to cop to a little more than “bugs” me, huh?

    Agree with many of yours, though I’ve been known to open a can of whup ass (hey, I’m old school and behind the times) and anyhoo doesn’t stick in my craw.

    But nom nom and lurve? Gah.

    And thank you for including interwebs. Which doesn’t necessarily bug me, but has made me feel like a ginormous (another bug word?) idiot because I have no clue what it means or how it’s different than the plain old internet (did I mention I’m old school?).

    I would love to know where “trickeration” came from, because it sounds like something George Bush would say. Here’s a tip: If it sounds like something George Bush would say, don’t say it.

    Anyhoo, I’ve literally got to get back to work on the interwebs before my baby daddy totes comes over and opens a can of whup ass on me.

  • le0pard13 says:

    Some of these I heard of before, and some not at all. Note to self: avoid theses. Hey, isn’t that an 80s expression? I’m in a lot of trouble then. Thanks, Elyse.

  • Rodney North says:

    This is a great post. I have almost nothing to add, except that I do. I got this bee-in-my-bonnet about something. Actually its like a whole swarm of bees, or maybe an angry badger.

    Regardless, I think I’m going to have a spasm the next time I hear someone say – in affirmation of something – “Yeah. No. …” What is with that?! What has gone so wrong with society, or at least American speech*, that not only would an otherwise not-insane person would start a sentence this way, but that it could catch on like Roundup Ready kudzu (sorry, that’s a little regional/farming lingo reference.)

    (*My inner optimist is hoping the rest of the English-speaking world has been spared this verbal blight.)

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      I’m chuckling because that “Yeah, no…” thing reminds me of Gary Cole’s character in Office Space. I haven’t encountered too much of that but am sorry to hear it’s taking you to the brink of spasms. A badger in your bonnet sounds painful!

  • Poncho says:

    I don’t get a lot of the expressions. I don’t understand that thing about shit ___ say/s. But it’s not like I’m using it, so I don’t really care.

    But I know what you mean. I’m somewhat anal retentive with my grammar and orthography (mainly in spanish), and I gasp when I read my facebook and twitter timelines.

    The “literally” thing. Yeah, that happens in spanish too. And I hate it.

    Oh! And you should hear people talking, because pleonasm comes (literally) from everybody’s mouths: things like “subir arriba” (which is like “ascend up”), “su ____ de él” (“his ____ of him”)…

    OK. I’m stopping now, or else I will have a nervous breakdown.

  • Steve Weddle says:


    This dumb idea of starting with a compliment, putting the criticism in the middle, then ending with a compliment is not a COMPLIMENT SANDWICH.
    When you put ham between two pieces of bread, you don’t have a BREAD SANDWICH — you have a ham sandwich.

    You call it the thing that is SANDWICHED — the thing in the middle.

    Stop saying COMPLIMENT SANDWICH when you mean the exact opposite.

  • Amber Love says:

    I have to agree with “totes” and “lurve” and the “shit so-and-so says” phenoms. Ugh. Make them stop.

    I add “nao” (now) and “bai” (bye) — they don’t save character spaces! Why use this?

  • sabrina ogden says:

    I’m guilty of two.

  • Clair says:

    It was time to retire LOL at least 10 years ago, but people still use it. Why?

    I wholeheartedly endorse the banishment of “nom” in all forms, and cringe at “anyhoo.”

  • Jann says:

    Most of these I’ve only been exposed to by lurking (hmmm, do we need that word) my daughter’s facebook…one that I would really like to see go the way of the buffalo? Beginning a sentence, conversation, whatever with “So” Argh! I work with fancy schmancy lawyers – top of their class at the “best” schools and they begin conversations with “So” So what??????

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      I have a problem with people ending their sentences with “so…” drifting into nothing! As in, “I’m kinda busy, so…” So what? You can’t come to the movies with me? You need to work overtime? Either say that or just end the thought without the “so”!

  • Eddy says:

    Are they teaching journalism these days or The Art of the Cliché? Some examples:

    Tsunami. Not the devastating tidal surge after an offshore earthquake, but when it is used as a lame metaphor in place of “overwhelming” or “overabundance”. A report on the “tsunami of Christmas shoppers” undermines the tragedy of a real tsunami.

    A Perfect Storm. Not the meteorological condition or the movie, but another lame metaphor for any non-weather event that happened through an unusual combination of other events.

    -ohoholic. The pseudo suffix meaning addiction (such as being a chocoholic). How lazy is it to just lop off the first three letters and slap it on the end of word? “-ohoholic “ should be restricted to alcoholism only. Plus it cheapens seriousness of true addiction.

    -gate. This shouldn’t be used to create a cute name for any political or corruption scandal. Another example of journalistic laziness. If they aren’t discussing the Watergate Scandal during the Nixon administration (or the actual Watergate complex), they should leave “-gate” out of it. What if every scandal after the Harding administration was called “The Somethingpot Dome Scandal”?

    Virtually. The other half of the “literally” discussion above.

    Viral. Propagated throughout the interwebs, as in, “At the risk of sounding redundant, that meme has gone viral.” (We could also do away with “meme” while we’re at it.)

    Three things I’d like to see banned from the gaming world’s lexicon:

    Strafe. “’Strafing’ is the practice of attacking ground targets from low-flying aircraft using aircraft-mounted automatic weapons.” (Wikipedia). In gaming strafing has come to mean the act of dodging side-to-side to avoid getting shot (perhaps even by a staffing aircraft). Rumor has it that the term came about years ago due to a bad translation from Japanese to English in a game manual. Time to fix it.

    Akimbo. In the real world this means to stand with your hands on your hips, elbows out, like Peter Pan. (Wups, stepped out of the real world for a second.) In gaming it means to dual-wield guns, shooting with both hands at the same time. This makes me sound old, but I fear for the language skills of the next generation. (Don’t get me started on the grammar of texting.)

    Pwned/Powned/Pawned. To “own” as in, “I won, I owned you in that game.” Probably started by hitting the P key rather than the O key while trying to type “own”. It was a typo. It doesn’t need to be added to Oxford’s.

    PS – I like the term “interwebs” mainly because, as I understand it, that was a Bushism.
    PPS – “Smush”? Hmmmm.

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      Where do I start? You make so many good points.

      The “holic” thing gets me because it comes from the word “alcoholic,” which is just adding “ic” to the end of “alcohol.” Therefore, an addiction to chocolate should be something like “chocolatic.”

      Check and check on tsunami and -gate. I haven’t encountered some of the others too often (I don’t do gaming) but enjoyed your explanations of them, especially “pwned” since I have seen that and had no clue what it meant.

  • Eric Edwards says:

    AMAH-zing is starting to stick in my craw. But you covered everything else.

  • Terrific list. I’m with you on everything but “Interwebs.” I like that word for some reason.

    I’m very tired of “awesome,” but what can replace it? Terrific? Peachy? Really Cool? Delightful? AH-mazing?

    You know what I really miss? Calling people “hoser.”

  • Nora says:

    “Amazing” & “baby bump” aren’t so much obnoxious as they are overused. Althouth I find “baby bump” obnoxious. It’s a baby. She’s pregnant. We’re all grownups, right? Oy.

    However, I believe “lurve” is an old-fashioned term, not so much a new one. I think it goes back to the ’20s or ’30s, and it’s definitely used in Annie Hall, so it’s not really a new replacement for “luv”.

    Living in NorCal, nothing sets my teeth on edge more than “locally sourced” or “sustainable”, unless it’s both terms used in the same sentence. Or maybe “repurposed”.

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      I didn’t know that about “lurve.” (I saw Annie Hall too long ago.) Thank goodness I haven’t come across it much until now.

      I also don’t hear too often those phrases you mentioned. I guess you’re more environmentally aware than we are down here?

  • I haven’t even heard most of these ~ you’re envious right now, aren’t you, PCN. But I have to confess to Anyhoo. Anyhoo, anyhoo, anyhoo. It sounds very stupid now that you mention it. And I have no idea why I started saying it. I’m starting an Anyhoo Jar for myself and will break the habit. My local pet peeve is people calling Brisbane BrisVegas. No offense to those who like the nickname, but one casino does not a hybrid of Las Vegas make. Brisbane or Brissie [rhymes with fizzy] will do, thank you.

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      Ugh. I don’t like Vegas so I can understand your aversion to being called BrisVegas. That sounds so tacky. I like Brissie. Can you use that to describe a resident of Brisbane?

    • Poncho says:

      Ha! We sort of do that in Mexico too… well, not in Mexico City, but the state of Guanajuato (about 3 hours north), a lot of towns have “hybrid” names:
      Guanajuato – Guanawashington
      Irapuato (where my family lives) – Irapittsburgh
      Salamanca – Salamanchester
      Celaya – Celayork

      At first, it was fun, but then it became really annoying.

  • Leanne says:

    I’m thinking of the word ‘like’. Teenage girls seem to especially love this word, as they use it multiple times in one sentence! “Like, it was just like totally amazing, and like it just went off!!”

    Or ‘kinda’. “It was kinda hot today.”
    Or ‘gonna’. “I’m gonna kick his a**.”

  • Cris says:

    I’m glad you did this. I was recently thinking of how much “baby bump” pisses me off. Why can’t she just be pregnant, or “she’s beginning to show”? Baby bump sounds like something that requires vaccination. Please retire it! Another one is ” threw me/him/her/us/them under the bus”. Why are folks being thrown under buses? Can we get back to the good ol days of simply getting screwed? At least that one has a fun double meaning.


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