Every year, Lake Superior State University compiles a list of words to be banished for "mis-use, over-use and general uselessness." As I like to fancy myself a writer, this blog has an annual tradition (of which this is the second installment; that's a respectable lifespan for a blog!) of nominating words and expressions for the next LSSU list. Here are my 2009 nominations:
Green collar. This one was actually banished this year by LSSU, along with every other construction using the word "green" that does not have to do with nausea or envy. I wanted to single this one out for being an especially egregious and useless expression.
Down economy. Unforgivably overused.
These tough economic times. This clichéd phrase usually shows up in platitudes that are themselves useless.
Pass Constitutional muster. This terribly overused expression returns over 66,000 results from Google. What is a muster, anyway?
Shock and awe. This oldie was appearing in stories broadcast on NPR as recently as last month. I'm shocked that it is still in wide use despite appearing on LSSU's list five years ago.
Signature — as in, "signature dish" (uttered frequently by the infamous Chef Gordon Ramsay as he abuses struggling chefs), "signature service" (marketed by a certain large oil-change franchise), and many other abuses.
Give back. The phrase "give back" requires an object; one gives back to someone. To describe charitable endeavors as "giving back" is vague, ungrammatical, and devoid of meaning. (Oh wait: this was on the 2008 LSSU list. Well, it bears repeating.)
My readers (hi Grandma!) are an erudite bunch, and I know you are thinking of some words you ardently wish to see banished. Nominate them in the comments below!