'Surge' thrown 'under the bus'
January 2, 2008 at 11:37 AM EST
DETROIT — Resist the urge to say you will “wordsmith” your list of New Year's resolutions rather than write one. And don't utter, “It is what it is” when you fail to meet your first goal.
Those are two of the 19 words or phrases that appear in Lake Superior State University's annual List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness. The school in Michigan's Upper Peninsula released its 33rd list Monday, selecting from about 2,000 nominations.
Among this year's picks are “surge,” the term for the U.S. troop buildup in Iraq. “Give me the old days, when it referenced storms and electrical power,” Michael Raczko of Swanton, Ohio, said in nominating the word.
The list also included “waterboarding,” “perfect storm,” “under the bus” and “organic.”
Another phase – “It is what it is” – “accomplishes the dual feat of adding nothing to the conversation while also being phonetically and thematically redundant,” said Jeffrey Skrenes of St. Paul, Minn.
Sadly for grammar's guardians, the lighthearted list is not binding, as shown by the continued use of past banned words and phrases such as “erectile dysfunction,” “i-anything” and “awesome.”
Still, university spokesman Tom Pink, part of a committee that evaluates submissions, takes his syntactic success where he can find it.
His office once received a letter from an Arizona Supreme Court justice who said he posted that year's list on a bulletin board and prohibited all lawyers from using those words.
In what the committee called a humanitarian gesture, it said "truthiness" has been removed from the list of banned words in view of the U.S. writers' strike.
Words for the wise to avoid
Lake Superior State University's 2008 list of banished words or phrases:
• perfect storm
• post 9/11
• give back
• '_' is the new '_'
• Black Friday
• back in the day
• It is what it is
• under the bus