It’s time again for a curated list of words and phrases that those with a linguistic skill set wish they could hurl into the polar vortex.
The 40th annual List of Words to be Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and Uselessness includes “bae,” most commonly used as a term of endearment, along with “curated,” ”skill set,” ”takeaway” and “polar vortex.” The latter refers to the frigid Arctic blast that gripped the nation last winter.
The list, released Wednesday, consists of a dozen terms compiled by northern Michigan’s Lake Superior State University based on submissions received throughout 2014 from members of the public. It joins an archive of more than 800 entries created in 1976 by a former public relations director who started with phrases that annoyed him and his friends.
Lake Superior State University’s 40th annual list of words nominated for banishment by members of the public:
- Polar vortex
- Skill set
- Enhanced interrogation
There’s nothing binding about this tongue-in-cheek decree, even if the people behind the nominations would ban the words if they were the kings — or queens — of speech.
“A pretentious way of saying ‘selected,’” said Kristi Hoerauf of San Francisco, in support of her proposed banishment of “curate/curated.” ”It’s enormously overused.”
Other words on the list include “hack,” ”foodie,” ”swag” and “cra-cra” as a stand-in for crazy. Also submitted for sanction are “enhanced interrogation,” ”friend-raising” (a prelude or alternative to a fund-raising campaign) and the suffix “-nation,” used to make words such as “Packer Nation” or “Cubs Nation.”
“I’m not aware of any team or mascot that has the carrying capacity to be a nation,” submitted Kelly Frawley of Waunakee, Wisconsin, despite her devotion to college and professional sports in her state.
Some words take their sweet time making this Hall of Semantic Shame: “Swag,” for instance, is a perennial nominee that finally made the list this year. Jeff Drake of Saint Albans, West Virginia, said swag is “neither useful nor fancy,” whether describing droopy clothing or a “free gift,” a term that was banned in 1988.
Then there’s the call to ban “bae,” which might not make Pharrell Williams too, um, happy. The multitalented entertainer dropped a single in 2014 called “Come Get it Bae.”
Sometimes, phrases can rise and fall rapidly and without ever invading the broader lexicon, often staying largely within conversations among younger people. “Bae” is an example of a word that some feel deserves to disappear, while others will be surprised to know it even exists, said Tom Pink, a spokesman for the university and list.
Years from now, Pink said, people may wonder why some words were included.
“People will say, ‘Bae? What’s that?’” he said.
On the Web: The Complete List