Wednesday Words: The Word That You Chose to Banish in 2013 and More

Last week, we asked readers which term should be blacklisted from our lexicon in 2013. Here's the winner and this week's other vocabulary highlights.

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David McGlynn

YOLO (acronym): the initial letters of “you only live once”; expressing the need to make the most of the present. 

YOLO is also a term of the past. More than 30,000 readers cast their ballots in TIME’s “What Word Should Be Banished in 2013?” poll, and this contender was far more unloved than any other, gaining more than 22% of the vote. So goodbye forever, YOLO. You are henceforth relegated to the Isle of Misfit Words. We hope you enjoy the company of da bombtubular, and chillaxing.

The rest of the unpopular terms are safe for now, though there was a hard fought battle for second place. Literally took 8.96% of the vote, fiscal cliff took 8.56%, cray took 8.02% and amazeballs was close behind with 7.88%. You can peruse the full list and view the results here.

Scandinoir (n.): a film genre characterized by violent thrillers set in Scandinavia, esp. with strong female protagonists.

The Financial Times tips its hat to this term and genre, one epitomized by Stieg Larsson’s addictively dark Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series. “Certainly the distinguishing features of Scandinoir,” writes Jan Dalley, “are fascinatingly contradictory.” The stories, for example, take the form of bloody messes staged in famously efficient countries. The women are vulnerable yet iron-clad. And plots potentially involve torture as well as delicious meatballs.

puzzled (adj.): to be at a loss, mystified, confused.

Only 51% of America’s fourth-graders could correctly define the word puzzled on a national test, and that factoid is the center of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s report on the results. The paper notes, however, that our future’s hope nailed some solid vocab on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, too. At least 75% of fourth-graders correctly identified barrenflourish and prestigious.

de-offshore-isation (v.): returning assets to a country from which they’ve been removed, esp. businesses owned by shell companies that avoid paying taxes to that country.

Russia’s Vladimir Putin used this term in his “state-of-the-nation” address, spelling out his plans for 2013. “Mr. Putin is getting short-tempered with his own elite,” wrote the Economist. “[He] now seems to consider the country’s bureaucrats as rather distasteful and undisciplined, more concerned about getting rich than about doing anything positive for the state.” So, like any bold leader, he showed that distaste with elaborate, scolding verbs.

7 comments
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JoyceRubinDeschamps
JoyceRubinDeschamps

I would add "gone viral",  "awesome" and "totally".  "Awesome" should be banned permanently unless whatever is awesome is actually awesome.

ScottMcKay
ScottMcKay like.author.displayName 1 Like

What about 'awesome', that's been used to death...?

bocabill
bocabill like.author.displayName 1 Like

The word, the frequent usage of which makes me cringe, is iconic.  Everyone or everything of middling importance or popularity is "iconic"

I wish they would give it a much needed rest.

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

As a side-note, Time Magazine, fewer than 10% of the students I used to teach (generally ages 12-18) actually read the news.  

Consider that in your long-term planning....

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

I was a Grade 7-12 Social Studies Teacher through June 2012.

Unfortunately, words like swag, YOLO, and BOSS are here for the longer-term.  

While the young adult crowd (21+) might not understand it, the pre-teens/teenagers of today definitely use those terms.

Time Magazine should know better than to sample people who would clearly be too old for such words...

TiffanyTyler
TiffanyTyler like.author.displayName 1 Like

Can we get rid of "swag" as well?

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

@TiffanyTyler Unfortunately, 'swag' is here to stay...the younger kids are obsessed with the term (I was a teacher, and heard their slang / -isms everyday).