Poll: What Word Should Be Banished in 2013?

What words are you tired of? Let's band together to banish them for the New Year

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There are plenty of tiresome things that we won’t have to deal with again in 2013, like endless political ads and people obsessing over the Maya apocalypse. But wouldn’t it be great if we could choose what to banish in the New Year? If we could put a piece of culture in a steel vault and sink it into the blackest depths of the deepest ocean? In a special editon of Wednesday Words, TIME asks you to give it a try, by voting on which word or phrase people need to delete from their vocabulary in 2013.

See which description best suits you and cast your vote below:

47%/99%/110%: Percent, percent, percent! You’ve heard plenty about Mitt Romney and his 47% gaffe. And you’ve heard more than plenty about the 99% who love occupying places so much. Also, for the last time: it’s statistically impossible to give more than 100% of your effort, so let’s throw that in as a bonus.

adorkable: People were calling for the retirement of this word in 2011, yet that didn’t stop major news outlets — much less bloggers and tweeters — from calling things “adorkable” throughout 2012. You find it cloying and annoying. Plus, there has to be some other adjective to describe Zooey Deschanel.

amazeballs: You think it’s irritating that people overuse the word amazing, particularly when they pronounce it ah-mah-zing. But amazeballs makes you want to commit violence against your own eardrums. For realballs.

artisanal: If you have to listen to one more hipster brag about something being artisanal, you are going to snap their Ray-Bans in half. “Artisanal” has become such a commonplace label that it will soon have all the selling power of “MSG-free.”

cray: You thought it was cute at first, saying that crazy things were “cray-cray” and then walking it back to the more familiar “cray.” Unfortunately, cute is rarely a quality that endures.

fiscal cliff: TIME chose this as the Buzzword of the Year. And that’s fine; you just want the world to leave the tired metaphor in 2012. You’ve heard it so many times, your dreams are haunted with doubloon mountains. Plus, economists say fiscal slope is a more accurate depiction of the U.S.’s impending plight. So there.

Gangnam style: Heeeeeey, sexy lady! Stop it. Just stop it.

jelly: You think people who say “jelly” instead of “jealous” sound like 15-year-old girls who believe the height of tragedy is having unbalanced skin tone. (To be clear, this has no effect on your enthusiasm for PB&J.)

literally: You have figuratively had it up to here with people using literally when they mean, say, metaphorically. To paraphrase the great Sir D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, precision is the very soul of communication.

meh: This was a fine reaction to the lackluster Republican field during the election. Now you’re over it — and think we could all do with a little less apathy in general. Employ some constructive criticism, people.

mommy porn: Much like the sex scenes in E.L. James’ Fifty Shades trilogy, you think this phrase has gone from gasp-inducing to novel to unbelievably overdone. If only there were a safe word you could use to stop the pain.

teehee: Approximating laughter in written form is difficult. However, only the likes of mischievous cartoon mice should be using “teehee.” Use “guffaw” or “bwahaha” or “spit take.” Just retire this tittering nonsense.

totes: Simply abbreviating something doesn’t make it cool. This word has totes magotes lost its staying power.

YOLO: You Only Live Once — so stop wasting your fleeting breath on this terrible acronym.

zombie apocalypse: What is it with the undying zombie fixation? You’d rather hear about almost anything else at this point: a werewolf apocalypse, a kraken apocalypse, a toaster apocalypse!

So there you have them: 15 contenders. Vote for your candidate in the poll!

We’ve surely missed some bugbears, so feel free to tell us the words that drive you totes cray in the comments. We’ll announce the most unpopular of this bunch next week.

395 comments
LindaKing
LindaKing

Apologies. I will try again. I used to enjoy scrolling through Facebook looking at nature photos etc, but now I'm so sensitized to the words 'cute', 'adorable' and 'awesome' as descriptions of or responses to the pictures, that I can't look any more! The English language is so rich and has such potential for precision, it is such a shame to replace all adjectives expressing approval with these three!

LindaKing
LindaKing

I used to enjoy scrolling through Facebook looking at nature photos etc, but now I'm so sebsitized to the words cute, awesome and adorable that I can't look any more. The English language is so ruch and has such potentual fir orecusion, it is such a shane to replace alk adjectuves wuth tgese!

LindaKing
LindaKing

I hate the misuse if 'decimated' to mean titally wiped out.

epitygxanwn
epitygxanwn

We CAN'T  ban 'meh'! That is a great Yiddish word that has enriched the English language! On the contrary: we should be pushing MORE Yiddish words in English, since Yiddish has already proven itself gifted in enriching the language.


Besides: there are lots of other situations other than Republican Presidential primaries where 'meh' is the perfect word.

wfieser
wfieser

Can we resume the use of healthful to describe anything inanimate?  Only living things can be healthy.  It seems that we've totally lost track of that in the vernacular.

KenGuthrie
KenGuthrie

So . . . "at the end of the day", "that being said", "the bottom line is", we are constantly having our ears stuffed with filler words and phrases of all types. If we are all about efficient communication, how about "effective" communication as well. I am "sick and tired" of overused and meaningless phrases. The under twenty-five crowd seems to be stuck trying to invent new words instead of learning to use what we have. That also goes for the speaking heads on the talk shows who are as guilty as any when it comes to overused phrases. It all starts with a better education system . . . something that takes time, energy, and resources . . . all of which seem in short supply these days.

dansphans8
dansphans8

The word "like" is one that makes me cringe. I'm surrounded by so many people that use it as just a "filler". I have a fear of snapping one of these days and endI up screaming at them "'Similar to' or 'having a mild fondness for'? What do you mean?!?!?".

DennisHastings
DennisHastings

All of these words, if used at precise moments, can be laugh inducing. They just need to be used with 'malice aforethought'. Of course, it depends if you actually possess a sense of humor, or if you think you do... in which case, disaster may be waiting for you.  For me, the worst, most annoying phrase of the last few years is....'I'm just sayin'.  I hate this term with a deep, visceral hatred, and will tease anyone I catch using it. Just what are they 'saying', and is it really important enough to carbon copy it for us for later perusal? I think not.

Capt_Swayworn
Capt_Swayworn

This isn't a piece on just what words -- or even phrases -- should be banished, it's a piece on things (music videos, literary subgenres) the author dislikes. And the comments section seems to be mostly people who want to congratulate themselves for being better than the unwashed masses.

Yeah, I don't like YOLO either. But, like with terrible celebrities, even negative attention makes horrible words and concepts more popular. Why waste our time getting all frothy?

Also, it gives me great pleasure in pointing out that the author uses the word "paraphrase" incorrectly when chiding folks for using the word "literally" incorrectly. Tee hee!

ArionYeow
ArionYeow

It won't let me vote for banishing Justin Bieber.

KayJay
KayJay

SOOOOO Ratchet isn't on this list because......??

horsedoc1
horsedoc1

"Uptick."  Appropriate when used for the stock market, annoying when used for anything and everything else, as has happened in recent years.  e.g.  We've certainly seen an uptick in headlines that use the word "uptick."  Nothing ever "rises" or "increases" or simply "grows" anymore, everything upticks.  Unless you work on Wall Street, enough already!

CindyO'BrienMcCrory
CindyO'BrienMcCrory

I am SICK of "awesome."  My New Year's Resolution is to redo my vow to never say the word "awesome" again.  I just cringe when I hear it.  It used to be a great word, but not now.  SO overused, and it usually the point is really never truly awesome. 

timaree_leigh
timaree_leigh

man, y'all are cranky as all get out.  it's just a list of slang young people use. this is so curmudgeonly.

EllenBaer
EllenBaer



Plethora. I have seen that word a plethora of times written in documents by people who like to sound important. This word is also hard to say without sticking your tongue out past your teeth. Ugly.

PhilipMusgrave
PhilipMusgrave

All right already, let's put this one in the steel vault and get rid of it forever: "OMG". I'm so tired of being offended by hearing it almost constantly. Just use real words to describe your amazement with life, or better yet, KEEP IT TO YOURSELF. OMG should die!

solange
solange

"horrific" and "it is what it is".

delislescook
delislescook

Ban "eclectic"  - most over-used term in descriptions of anything that isn't monotonic.

RonaldSDavis
RonaldSDavis

White Stuff - Those who live in warm climates are lucky, because they don't have to endure blizzards of this cliché for snow every winter.

Leftcoastrocky
Leftcoastrocky

Tea Party -- the movement is selfish and destructive -- let's get rid of the word too

Smiling1809
Smiling1809

Breakies instead of breakfast is the hands down most annoying word of 2012.

St_SugarLondon
St_SugarLondon

Far too many things in this world are factory-made. When something is finally handmade, the word artisanal may still be required.  

Neural
Neural

Oh, and another thumb-up for "bipartisan". The word is stupid. It's like saying double-single, or cake-poo.

Neural
Neural

I'm getting tired of hearing wheelhouse.

FranBerkman
FranBerkman

I personally dislike "ugh." It's a communicative cop out. 

MikeGerber
MikeGerber

Lets kill the Zombie Apocalypse. Perhaps the dumbest concept to ever take hold of the American public.

epitygxanwn
epitygxanwn

I am so glad I never heard of most of these...

John
John

Some of these words remind me of impressionist Rich Little describing how he was able to do Brodrick Crawford.

He tried and tried but couldn't get get the voice down.  Finally, at a holiday dinner he asked someone to pass a certain dish while he had a mouth full of corn and discovered he had the voice.  After that, when performing he just imagined having a mouth full of corn and he could do the voice perfectly!


DEW44
DEW44

Anything out of Kathy Griffn's mouth

jrjustkidding
jrjustkidding

Toooo many people describe the experience of viewing an offensive image with the double negative statement, "I can't un-see that!"  They have a similar response with hearing offensive words.  "I can't un-hear that..", and it just makes me want to throw up in my mouth - another phrase that I hope disappears quicker than a Snuggies add.


DEW44
DEW44

"It's all good"

StephenDilks
StephenDilks

A word that became redundant in 2012 is "bipartisan." So, too,  the word "Republican" when applied to the majority of those in the GOP.   But the word I'd like to see retired in 2013 is actually an acronym, "NRA."

DEW44
DEW44

Sorry but they keep coming, added to the recommendations of removing "like" but this is: "I'm like" or "he/she was like" when telling a story and also "hello!?". "So I'm like 'no way' and she's like not even listening, so I'm like 'uh, hel-LO!'"

DEW44
DEW44

Another one: Per se. It doesn't mean what most people think. It's not the fiscal cliff per se that bothers me it's congress's incompetence, would be a correct use.

jham121
jham121

Well, YOLO, so I literally need to write an amazeballs comment to flash all my artisanal cred while maintaining my adorkable image, even if it does drive you totes cray. I'm giving 110% here to keep this from being meh! And I'll tell ya, I'm seriously jelly of all those congressmen--if I were there, I'd be going all Gangnam Style on that fiscal cliff, yo! But since I'm not there, I can say teehee to some mommy porn while awaiting the inevitable zombie apocalypse from my parents' basement.

Yep, that's all 15. You can kill me now.

blah
blah

'im just saying'

DEW44
DEW44

How about "you know"? Particularly the way athletes use it in interviews, every couple of words they insert "you know"; and it not "ya know", is it YOU know.

macattack2142
macattack2142

Ten words that should be banished:

1.) Eric Cantor

2.) John Bhoener

3.) Mitch McConnell

4.) Grover Norquist

5.) Rush Limbaugh

epitygxanwn
epitygxanwn

@wfieser Bad idea. The use of 'healthy' to mean something that promotes health is not only already well-established in English, but the practice even goes all the way back to Aristotle writing in Greek!

PhilipMusgrave
PhilipMusgrave

@epitygxanwn Thank you! I'm another one to whom the proposed list is mostly just full of jaw dropping stupidity, and phrases that are new to me. Maybe we hang out with smarter people!

PhilipMusgrave
PhilipMusgrave

@jham121 Thank you and I hereby give notice that I'm stealing your comment for my FB profile. Totes!