I propose we ban the following worn-out words and phrases this year:
- I know, right? Alternately, just Right? It’s used to express enthusiastic agreement with something that somebody just said, but entusiastic agreement really shouldn’t be expressed as a question. If you agree, you shouldn’t have to ask; just do so. And speaking of so…
- So… At best, the word “so” is a vague adverb. In Johnny Carson’s days, it was a set-up for any number of awful jokes. (“It’s so _____.” “How _____ is it?” “It’s so _____ that ________.” Hilarious.) Then several years ago, lazy people started using it as a verbal burp at the start of a conversation or sentence — but unless you’re Yul Brynner making an arrogant proclamation about city-building and child-bearing, you just sound stupid when you start a sentence with “So.” I once worked with someone who answered every question with a sentence starting with that word, and it drove me nuts. “How are you this morning?” “So my car wouldn’t start.” “I’m sorry to hear that, but at least you got here, right?” “So I tore my coat when I was running to get here on time.” “What are you going to do?” “So I’m going to sew.” See? Sigh….
- Literally. It rarely is. I’m not sure what’s going on with this one, but I think people are mistaking it for “figuratively” or another of its opposites. “Literally” means “word for word” or “without exaggeration.” Yet people pair it with exaggerations way too often. “I literally had to fly here to make it on time.” That’s fantastic, Superman, but I’m pretty sure you didn’t literally fly from your house to the doctor’s office, eight miles away.
- Seriously? Alternately, Really? I have to admit, these two are my guilty pleasures. Maybe they should just be flagged as “nearly worn-out” and therefore, to be used sparingly (and only by someone who can really pull it off). In my home, however, they are to be outright banned — because I’m getting a little tired of hearing, “Really, Dad?” from my six-year-old every time I tell a joke. The verbal equivalent of rolling one’s eyes.
- SO not ______! I think this originated on Friends — a standard Chandlerism, I believe. It was funny when he and the other characters said it, not at all funny when real people do. I cringe every time I hear someone say, “That’s SO not fair!” or “It is SO not warm in here!” Eek. It’s SO not the proper way to talk.
- Leverage, but only when used as a verb. It usually happens in a corporate environment, as in, “We should leverage your team’s talents.” I hate that; it’s just a euphemism for taking advantage of someone. I know it’s been around for a while — and I’ve hated it for just as long — but I’ve never made one of these lists before. Plus, it still hasn’t gone away. Until it does, I’ll include it every time I make one of these; it’s just my personal crusade.
- Sheep. Used to describe people who are perceived as unthinking followers. You’re likely to hear it uttered in disgust — and to great excess — by Ron Paul supporters and wacky, InfoWars-style conspiracy nuts (but I repeat myself). Look, just because someone doesn’t toe the line of your particular theory or philosophy, it doesn’t mean they can’t think for themselves. In fact, I’d say the opposite is true — you buy this crap wholesale, then dive into it headfirst, but we’re the weak thinkers? Besides, you’ve made an analogy of the wrong animal. Sheep are misled, not knowing the fate they’re approaching. Look around today, and you’ll see more people willingly heading toward their doom. The word you want, is “lemmings.” You’re welcome.
- Tea baggers. We get it; somebody in the Tea Party unknowingly used a term for a sex act, to express their outrage with the president. I watched the original Rachel Maddow segment and joined in the laughter. It was probably one of history’s funniest gaffes, and my inner 12-year-old appreciated the humor — the first time. But you know what? That was two and a half years ago. Plus, no one in the Tea Party has said it since then; they dropped it like, well, a heavy sack. Can we let it go? Now it’s just childish, and when I hear someone use it to refer to everyone in the Tea Party, that someone automatically loses most of their credibility for any remaining conversation time that I care to share with them. Not because I’m defending the Tea Party; rather, just because it tells me the person speaking is beneath the standard level of acceptable adult conversational skills, and has resorted to silly name-calling. It’s like referring to a group of people as “Doo-doo faces.” Would you really say that in a serious debate? Really? Seriously?
- Class warfare. I don’t even know what this means. Nor, I think, do the people using the phrase.
- Lady Gaga. Because if we stop talking about her, maybe she’ll go away.
You’re welcome. Happy New Year, right?