New Year Less Words

I’m a month behind in suggesting words to eliminate in 2012. Several stories surfaced in the waning days of 2011 about words that have grown tired and overused. I think the one that really hit home was “awesome” – a great word to eliminate. Suggesting that some awesome footage of a car wreck appeared on YouTube doesn’t make much sense.

I would like to add my own suggestions. Certainly, there are many more, but here are some that may be best reserved for baby babble with your toddler.

1. Gravitas. “This presidential candidate sure has the ‘gravitas’ to win the election.” Here, the speaker means “gravity,” or enough weight to make it happen. Sadly, the word also means sobriety.

2. Critical Mass. “The project has gained enough ‘critical mass’ to move forward.” Really? While I’m not an expert in physics, I do know enough to suggest this term is best left to the reactor boys.

3. Low-hanging fruit. “We’d better buy that stock now; it’s ‘low-hanging fruit.’” It’s time to eliminate this term. Adam and Eve probably control the intellectual property rights to it anyway.

4. Like. Sorry, but I teach at Indiana University, and we know how students like this word. “Like” is like an infectious disease, spreading like wildfire and, like, it’s really annoying, too.

5. Super. It’s not a bad word when you connect it with something. “Superman,” “Super Bowl.” But by itself, it’s best left out of conversation. However, for nostalgic reasons, I still like “Super Duper.”

6. Equilibrium. Unfortunately, I really like this word. It’s almost as good as “osmosis.” It’s really impressive to throw around scientific terms that have been ascribed new meanings at the water cooler. But alas, “equilibrium” must go.

So, this is just a start. I am sure you can add literally hundreds of words to this “must-avoid” list. But I first would want to ensure we have enough critical mass to add words that have the gravitas to be on the list. Sure, there’s some low-hanging fruit out there, and, like, it’s super fun to do this, but we do need to establish some equilibrium within our listings. Awesome!

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