Here’s the Story Behind LSSU’s Yearly List of Banned Words
If I never hear the phrase "Quid pro quo" again, it will be too soon. The oft-used phrase has been burned into our brains thanks to Washington DC and it tops this year's list of words to be banned from the English language in 2020.
The tongue-in-cheek list is published each year by staff members at Lake Superior State University in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. OK, Boomer, Influencer, and Jelly (as a cute synonym for jealous) also make this year's "List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use, and General Uselessness."
But how did the yearly word eradication come about? In 2013, I decided to do a little research and got some intel from my friend James, whose father is the brainchild behind the school's annual ritual.
The notion to strike words and phrases because of their overuse and general uselessness was conceived by James' father, W.T. Rabe, back in 1975. Rabe was the school's Public Relations Director, and according to James, the whole thing started when "a bunch of martini-filled college professors were sitting around complaining about the horrible and annoying words and phrases used in TV newscasts."
"Back in my dad's day, his office work-study students narrowed the entries to about 70, and then at a drink-filled New Year's Eve party, a bunch of his college peeps would select the 'winners' and just after midnight my dad would go type it up and call it out to the newswires (that's right...DICTATED it over the phone). Man, that was a long time ago. Then, at 6 am, he'd crawl out of bed and start calling his station list, doing bits across the US and Canada. And by 7am, unsolicited calls started coming in. Was quite the day."
Technology has changed the way the list is created (Submissions are now accepted via the school's website), but more than four decades later, the custom of ousting words that have 'jumped the shark' is an annual tradition, especially here in Michigan.
This year's list also includes Totes (as an abbreviation for totally), Mouthfeel, and Living My Best Life. Check out the complete list here.