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These overused, misused and nonsense words get language academics’ GOAT

'GOAT' is among the words we should banish in 2023.

'GOAT' is among the words we should banish in 2023. Photo: Getty

Words and phrases go in and out of style, just like pretty much everything else, but one group of discerning judges has revealed a list that should be banished altogether.

Michigan’s Lake Superior State University has released its annual list of words and phrases its experts have urged people to retire, er … going forward.

Stop resorting to imprecise, trite, and meaningless words and terms of seeming convenience!” the university said.

“You’re taking the lazy way out and only confusing matters by over-relying on inexact, stale, and inane communication.”

The university has published a list of banished words every year since the 1970s. In 2022, it had more than 1500 nominations to sift through.

And the ignominious winner? It’s GOAT (for ‘greatest of all time’).

Lake State executive director of marketing and communications Peter Szatmary said words mattered.

Nine naughty words

“Or at least they should. Especially those that stem from the casual or causal. That’s what nominators near and far noticed, and our contest judges from the LSSU School of Arts and Letters agreed,” he said.

“They veritably bleated their disapproval about the attempted nonpareil of GOAT because the supposed designation becomes an actual misnomer.

“The singularity of ‘greatest of all time’ cannot happen, no way, no how. And instead of being selectively administered, it’s readily conferred. Remember Groucho Marx’s line about not wanting to join a club that would accept him as a member?”

There are also nine other words and terms on the list, including one dictionary Merriam-Webster dubbed its word of the year for 2022.

Pictured is a goat

‘GOAT’ or ‘greatest of all time’ is top of the 2023 list of banned words.

Words banished in 2023

GOAT: An acronym for “greatest of all time” is used so much the judges and petitioners agreed it had become meaningless.

“[It’s] applied to everyone and everything from athletes to chicken wings,” one objector said.

Some sprinkle GOAT like table salt on ‘anyone who’s really good'” bemoaned another.

Inflection point: A term used in mathematics that lost all meaning when it was used colloquially was chosen as No.2.

LSSU said “inflection point” was 2022’s answer to “pivot”, which was banished in 2021.

“Chronic throat-clearing from historians, journalists, scientists or politicians. Its ubiquity has driven me to an inflection point of throwing soft objects about whenever I hear it,” one person said.

Someone else pointed out it was just a pretentious way of saying “turning point”.

Quiet quitting: The trend just about everyone was apparently taking part in throughout 2022, but LSSU has deemed the phrase as simply “inaccurate”.

Not an employee who inconspicuously resigns. Instead, an employee who completes the minimum requirements for a position,” the university said.

A few people who nominated the phrase said “quiet quitting” could really just mean workers were burnt out or disengaged.

Gaslighting: The word was Merriam-Webster’s word of 2022, but Salt Lake’s team want to see no more of it.

Those who nominated it were fed up with its use as a “catch-all” for a disagreement or general conflict when it actually has quite a sinister meaning.

Gaslighting refers to “psychological manipulation”, generally over a long period. Merriam-Webster says gaslighting leads victims to question their thoughts and perception of reality, leading to confusion, lack of self-esteem and a dependency on the perpetrator.

Young adult browsing on his phone with his legs on the table while at his workplace.

Are workers “quiet quitting” or are they just burnt out and disengaged?

Moving forward: Another phrase that is misused and useless, as it’s impossible to go back in time.

May also refer to ‘get my way’, as in, ‘How can we move forward?’ Well, guess what? Sometimes you can’t,” a petitioner said.

LSSU noted “moving forward” is often used by politicians or bosses “for semantic legitimacy’ of self-interest, evasion or disingenuousness.

Similarly, “going forward” received a few votes for 2022. It was already banished back in 2001.

Amazing: Simply put, not everything is “amazing”. Salt Lake voters said the word should be reserved for the few things in life that are “dazzling, moving or awe-inspiring”.

Amazingly, “amazing” was already banished in 2012, for “misuse, overuse, and uselessness”.

Does that make sense? The judges believe that, instead of asking if something makes sense, one should just make sense.

Submitters apparently find “does that make sense?” to be “filler, insecurity and passive aggression” and merely a “call for reassurance”.

Irregardless: It’s not a word and “regardless” will serve just fine.

At most, it’s a non-standard word, per some dictionaries,” LSSU said.

The prefix “ir” ahead of “regardless”, could just make it redundant. One person said “irregardless” made their hair hurt, so for their sake, stop using it.

Absolutely: Another repeat offender, “absolutely” was banished back in 1996, but “deserves a repeat nope” given it is still overused.

One person believed it was too frequently “said too loudly by annoying people who think they’re better than you”.

It is what it is: Branded a “cop out” that is “pointless”, the phrase was also banished back in 2008 for overuse, misuse and uselessness.

Some thought it was also “borderline rude” and “dismissive”.

For those who’re curious to know how to use each of the words and phrases properly, LSSU president Dr Rodney S. Hanley managed to do just that.

Our linguists, editors, and philosophers, comics, gatekeepers and pundits didn’t succumb to quiet quitting when labouring over rife miscommunication,” he said.

“Rather, they turned in discerning opinions about rampant verbal and written blunders with equal parts amusement, despair and outrage. But our nominators insisted, and our Arts and Letters faculty judges concurred, that to decree the Banished Words List 2023 as the GOAT is tantamount to gaslighting. Does that make sense?

“Irregardless, moving forward, it is what it is: An absolutely amazing inflection point of purposeless and ineptitude that overtakes so many mouths and fingers.”

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