For more than 40 years, Lake Superior State University in Michigan has published an annual list of banished words. This year, the university is banning a few words with political spin.
Samples from the list include the words “nothingburger” and “covfefe,” along with the phrases “fake news” and “gig economy.”
In case you’re not familiar with the now-banished terms, here are a few definitions from Lake Superior State.
Nothingburger: Says nothing that “nothing” doesn’t already. I’ll take a quarter pound of something in mine.
Covfefe: An impulsive typo, born into a 140-character universe, somehow missed by the autocorrect feature.
Fake News: Once upon a time stories could be empirically disproved. Now "fake news" is any story you disagree with.
Gig Economy: Gigs are for musicians and stand-up comedians. Now expanded to imply a sense of freedom and a lifestyle that rejects tradition in a changing economic culture. Runs a risk of sharecropping.
The list also goes after some older terms like “tons” and “hot water heater”:
Tons: Refers to an exaggerated quantity, as in tons of sunshine or tons of work. "Lots" would surely suffice.
Hot Water Heater: Hot water does not need to be heated. "Water heater" or "hot water maker" will keep us out of hot water.
Thankfully, this is not a new, politically-motivated attempt by college administrators to ban unpopular speech. Instead, it’s a silly tradition dating back to 1975 called the “List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.”
Other words and phrases on the list include: unpack, drilled down, pre-owned, let that sink in, impactful, dish, let me ask you this, and onboarding/offboarding.
“We’ve drilled down and unpacked tons of pre-owned words and phrases deemed impactful by hundreds of nominators during 2017,” said a university spokesperson. “Let that sink in.”