Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Words that need a rest

This time of year, I'm always reminded of a musician friend's comment about Handel's "Messiah:" "They should just bury it for a hundred years and then dig it up and evaluate it." I've never felt that way about the "Messiah" - in fact, I love it - but there are some overused words I wouldn't miss if they were buried for a while. Here are a few that come to mind. Please feel free to add to the list:

  •  boo-yah!  (is that how you spell it?)
  •  amazing
  •  icon
  •  instant classic (OK, two words)
  •  to "grow" anything that isn't in the plant world, such as a business.
  • From JoLynne L: Woot, LOL and ninja. Excellent suggestions.  
  • and that reminds me: guru
You can also submit your suggestions to Lake Superior University, which issues an annual list of "banned words."  http://www.lssu.edu/banished/submit_word.php


Pam Williams said...

Some popular buzz words have come and gone before I pick up on the trend, although I agree with the ones you listed which should be released with a vote of thanks. They're definitely on the way out of fashion. In my novel I have a teenage subplot, and I saved at least a dozen pages by NOT having them say "like" and "ya know" every other word, as we hear in real life. It makes them far more interesting people. Most of my language complaints would be about journalists--oil-rich country, hammer out an agreement--and the cliches that unimaginative writers depend on. My mother had a genius for using cliches, but she was so funny we forgave her. I love malaprops. A character in my book is the malaprop queen, but much to my dismay, very few people know what a malaprop is, not even the critique group reading that novel. It means using a wrong word that sounds like the right word, with unintended humorous effect. For example, the character says the chicken dish she ate must have been laminated in honey and soy sauce, when she means marinated. I think that's dang funny. She tells someone she's glad they found their glitch in life when she means niche. In fact, a friend of mine read through a manuscript of the book and corrected all the intended malaprops, which was in itself wildly funny. A comedian years ago based his whole act on malaprops--and got a standing ovulation. So I'd say fad words come because people are charmed by them, stay long enough to become cliches (before I get in on the trend), and go when people get tired of them and something else more charming comes along. Cliches and buzz words should challenge writers to be more original with our flexible language. This is not turning out to be the long list you thought I'd have, but I'm more offended by badly written, boring language, and there's not space here to list all the cliches.

JoLynne Lyon said...

Woot. LOL, especially when it follows something that wasn't very funny. Ninja (as in, he's a social media ninja).