We're ALL ready to say goodbye to 2020, right? Are there any words or phrases you'd like to see disappear along with this dumpster fire of a year... like, I dunno, maybe "dumpster fire"?

Well, that did NOT make Lake Superior State University's annual "List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness", but as you might have guessed, a bunch relating to the COVID-19 pandemic did. 

The tradition, which started as a publicity stunt to bring attention to Michigan's smallest university, has been going strong since 1976.

Over the years, LSSU has received tens of thousands of submissions. To date, over 1000 words and phrases have been officially "banned".

LSSU says that out of 1,450-plus nominations this year, upwards of 250 relate to the coronavirus; seven of the 10 words and terms that LSSU is banishing for 2021 are about it. At the very top of the list of words and phrases to get rid of is what started all of this: “COVID-19” itself.

Banished Words List committee members Associate Professor of English Mary McMyne, Assistant Professor of English Julie Barbour, and Associate Professor of English Dr. Chad Barbour say,

It should surprise no one that this year’s list was dominated by words and terms related to COVID-19. LSSU’s Banished Words List has reflected signs of the times since debuting in the mid-1970s, and the zeitgeist this year is: We’re all in this together by banishing expressions like ‘We’re all in this together.’ To be sure, COVID-19 is unprecedented in wreaking havoc and destroying lives. But so is the overreliance on ‘unprecedented’ to frame things, so it has to go, too.”

Here are some of LSSU's banned words in for 2021:

COVID-19 (COVID, coronavirus, Rona)

LSSU says the nominations they received reflect that we're not only tired of the virus itself, but also of seeing, hearing, and reading about it. Personally, the shortening to "rona" or "the rona" makes my ears bleed.

Social distancing

While this phrase is useful, as wearing a mask and keeping your distance have a massive effect on preventing the spread of infection, basically we want it to be a thing we don't have to do anymore because that would mean the virus is under control.

We’re all in this together

This phrase started with the best of intentions... and well, then we realized it's just not true. As LSSU says, "we are all dealing with COVID-19 in different ways and we confront some vastly different challenges in coping with it. As with many words that show up on the list, its usefulness has faded."

In these uncertain times

While COVID-19 has upended everything, this vague and trite saying doesn't help. As LSSU points out, to some it "sounds like the beginning of a movie trailer", and "What exactly does it mean for times to be uncertain? Look at a clock!"


From LSSU: "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. As one nominator said about reasons for its banishment, 'I would tell you why, but I’d sound like a Karen.' "


A shortened form of "suspect", it apparently comes from the game "Among Us" -- I did not know that, that's how uncool I am, and why I should not be using the term myself. Those who nominated the word A) ask: How much effort does it take to say the entire word?; and B) How about we just confine "sus" to the gaming world?

I know, right?

Used to express empathy and agreement, often used online, one nominator says, "If you know, why do you need to ask if it’s correct or seek further approval?"

Ugh, I know, right?

MORE: 10 Things You Should Never Say To a Michigander

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