Recently, I heard an interesting report on NPR about a New Yorker social media initiative to determine which word is no longer worthy to be a part of the English language. This question was posed in an effort to streamline the language, and readers were totally on board with the initiative. The publication received thousands of enthusiastic submissions, and words like “moist,” “epic,” and “phlegm” topped the list, but ultimately the New Yorker declared “slacks” to be the winner.
It was an amusing piece, and it also got me thinking about words (nothing new for me, I’ll admit). Which word would I want to remove from the English language, if given a vote? The first words that come to mind are actually not true words, and I want them to be discarded forever. You know, “words” like “supposably,” “irregardless,” and “expresso.”
And then phrases that need to be thrown out started coming to mind. “Champing at the bit” (which is the correct pronunciation, rather than the oft-used “chomping at the bit”) should be swapped for the phrase people are actually using. “Literally [insert something that is not, in fact, a literal occurrence]” is quite infuriating. Similarly, “To be honest with you…” needs to go. After all, do you really need to specify? Does that mean sentences that do not begin with this phrase are falsehoods? “At the end of the day” is one that tends to drive me nuts (far too overused). “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” — what the heck does that mean? I found a long and rather boring explanation, but I still don’t think it makes enough sense to stick around at this point.
(Also, as a complete side note, what’s up with using British spelling for words when a person is 1. not British and 2. not living in the UK? Come on — this is ‘merica. We live in apartments — not flats — and “color” does not contain a “u.”)
Then I got to thinking about some of my very favorite words, like “dilapidated,” “passers-by,” “fortnight,” “boisterous,” “ya’ll,” (it makes so much sense!) and “goggles.”
But what about words I would choose to cross out of the dictionary? After much deliberation, I landed on “unique,” — a word which, frustratingly, is neither particularly descriptive nor differentiating.
I’m interested to know: what are your picks for words to be banned from our beloved language?