Michigan School Names Words That Should Go Over The Fiscal Cliff In 2013
January 1, 2013

Michigan School Names Words That Should Go Over The Fiscal Cliff In 2013

Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Just in time for the new year, a Michigan school has released its annual list of useless, overused and misused words that should be history along with 2012.

Scholars at Lake Superior State University (LSSU), for the 38th consecutive year, have found a dozen words or phrases that are just too annoying to continue to use. The words/phrases are those that the school wishes to see “banished” from the English language in 2013.

The list of words have been compiled from nominations sent to LSSU throughout the year and was released on New Year´s Eve. The annual list was first published on New Year´s Day in 1976, when former LSSU Public Relations Director Bill Rabe and colleagues came up with a crazy idea to banish some overused words and phrases from the English language.

Over the years, LSSU has received tens of thousands of nominations for their annual lists, which now includes more than 800 entries over 4 decades.

The school´s current PR director, Tom Pink, who helped narrow down the 2012-2013 banished words list from thousands of nominations, said: “I'm in the word banishment business. “¦ There's a slightly serious side to this, but mostly we're trying to have fun with it.”

This year´s list was mostly derived from nominations sent to LSSU over its website. After dwindling down the thousands of entries, these are the 12 words or phrases that the scholars chose that should be banished from the English language:


This one phrase received the most nominations in 2012. And perhaps rightly so; the phrase has been inescapable in popular media for the past several months.

"You can't turn on the news without hearing this. I'm equally worried about the River of Debt and Mountain of Despair," exclaimed Christopher Loiselle, from Midland, MI.

“Just once, I would like to hear it referred to as a financial crisis,” added Barbara Cliff, of Johnstown, PA.

“Continually referred to as 'the so-called fiscal cliff,' followed by a definition. How many times do we need to hear 'fiscal cliff,' let alone its definition? Please let this phrase fall off of a real cliff! [sic],” noted Randal Baker, of Seabeck, WA.


Here´s another political term that has gotten people annoyed in 2012. The metaphorical phrase is often used to describe the concept of substituting a short-term fix in place of a final decision.

“Usually used in politics, this typically means that someone or some group is neglecting its responsibilities. This was seized upon during the current administration and is used as a cliché by all parties...Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Libertarians, Tories, Whigs, Socialists, Communists, Fashionistas“¦” said Mike Cloran, of Cincinnati, OH.


YOLO stands for “You Only Live Once.” The acronymic word is popularly used by teenagers and young adults everywhere to describe some feat that would be considered risky or stupid by most sane bodies. The term is also widely used by the Twitter community.

Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist from University of California, Berkeley (UCB), said like a lot of words, YOLO´s story is all too common.

“These words that are often very effective and attractive have very short half-lives because everybody picks them up at once, and they lose their punch,” Nunberg, who calls this phenomenon the “nine-day wonder,” told CNN´s Thom Patterson.


Several words almost made the list, according to Pink; Words like “wheelhouse” and “skill set.” He said there was also a consideration for the phrase “I know, right.”

“That one came close,” Pink remarked.

Some other nominations that fell by the wayside in this year´s list were words like “chillax,” “splitsville,” “Interweb,” and “Mother Nature.”

Pink said among the nominations that come across LSSU's website are several offensive words, such as the F-word and A-word. While these words are very often misused, overused and downright useless, he said they are never considered for the list.

“We try to keep it lighthearted,” said Pink.

Nunberg, who wrote “Ascent of the A-Word,” said a**hole was invented by WWII GIs and has grown to be among the most common curse words in the English language. It´s a “basic term that a lot of us use all the time in our emotional and moral lives, for example when somebody cuts us off on the highway.”

Nunberg told CNN that words like a**hole, many that came from the 1940s, are more likely to survive than words created in the 1990s and today. “You'd think more of the older words would be obsolete now, but no.”

Many words that are invented now catch on fast because of the Internet. “But the more words that are produced increases the competition,” said Nunberg. There's a kind of process of natural selection. Words that survive often “become signs of important social movements or changes,” he added.

So perhaps those words that were lucky enough to not be listed by the LSSU this year may have a chance yet to survive. Maybe, just maybe, they will find a way to keep from going over the “fiscal cliff.”