Top Ten banned words for 2016 from Lake Superior State University

LSSU compiles their list of Mis-used, Over-used or Generally Useless words from thousands of submissions to the university website.

Campus scene from Lake Superior State College. (Wikipedia/Bobak Ha'Eri)

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, Jan. 5, 2015 – Each year Lake Superior State University gains national attention for its annual list of “banned” words. LSSU compiles its list of mis-used, over-used and generally useless words from thousands of submissions to the university website.

For the uninformed, “banned” words and phrases have nothing to do with drum majors, tuba players or marching and everything to do with annoying utterances that ultimately drive people crazy as they become part of American “slanguage.”

There is no specific number required to make the list, but (a little fanfare please…ta da), we have selected the Top 10 in no particular order.

“SO” – This word has the distinction of making the list for the second time. It was banished in 1999 for a different reason, demonstrating that times change and meanings change with them.

When it earned the honor 26 years ago, “so” was used as a verb modifier. For example, usage in 1999 would have been “I am so over his silly mind games” or “She was so wondering why he didn’t ask her out.”

In many ways “so” and “like” are similar, you know, “like” when you have to “like” study for a test.”

This time around however, “so” is being used as the first word to answer a question: “How was the game?” Answer: “So the team came from behind in the last quarter won. It was fantastic!”

“Problematic” – This one is related to academia and the corporate world regarding a situation that requires a solution. It is rather thought-provoking in its own way by demonstrating there is no need to panic.

“We see that the outstanding loans are coming due, which might be problematic.”

It is always good to smoke a pipe when uttering this word.

“Walk it Back” – You know it’s an election year when you hear this one. A candidate makes a controversial statement and is later forced to either explain his or her meaning or retract the comment altogether.

“The senator received a resounding vote of no confidence after his comment in the debate, and he is now ‘walking back’ his opinion about immigration.”

“Presser” – Largely used by the media to describe a press conference or press release.

“Barack Obama will hold a ‘presser’ this afternoon on gun control.”

Myth Trivia: Some New Year’s Revelations for 2016

“Vape” – Twenty years ago this word did not exist. Now it has been around in recent years thanks to the common practice of smoking electronic cigarettes, which expel vapor rather than smoke.

“Vape” and “Vaping” have come into vogue with the national anti-smoking trend. Today it seems odd to watch a film from the 1940s and ‘50s when everybody smoked and a cigarette was an obligatory and obvious prop in almost any scene.

“Price Point” – In the A.D.D. word of today, it seems odd that two words describe something when one will do. After all, it takes too much time to say “Jennifer Lopez” so she becomes “J-Lo.” The same is true with Brad Pitt and Angelina Joli who have been “Branjelina” for years.

How about the expression “Okay”? We are in such a hurry these days it is now simply, “K.”

Why then would we add the word “point” when all we need to ask is “What’s the price?”

“Secret Sauce” – Fast food chains have had “secret sauces” for years, but today it has become a metaphor for success by a business in the fast food industry. For example, “Taco Bell stock is rising because they have discovered the ‘secret sauce’ with their new burrito products.”

“Conversation” – This word is the result of social media. With Facebook, Google and Twitter, the general public now has access to celebrities as never before. Broadcasters love to invite their audience to send in a Tweet and “join the conversation.”

The truth is the whole thing is a gimmick and the TV folk could care less what you think. Bill O’Reilly does it every night, but first you must agree with him or you’re in for a verbal thrashing. PROVIDED, of course, he responds at all.

“Stakeholder” – Originally this word referred to someone who had “money in the game” so to speak. Now business usage has expanded the meaning to include its customer-base and other outsiders from their internal structure.

“Physicality” – With the Super Bowl on the horizon it is important include at least on sports term. “Physicality” means just what it sounds like to describe a great athlete, but sportscasters and play-by-play announcers have taken it to a new level.

That concludes the personal choices from the Lake Superior State University list, but I would be remiss if I did not add two pet peeves of my own.

First is “on the ground” as in “Barack Obama is ‘on the ground’ in Hawaii for his annual vacation” or “Our reporter is ‘on the ground’ Paris at the site of the terrorist attack.”

Is it not possible for the president to simply be in Hawaii or the reporter to be in Paris? Is it not assumed that they are, indeed, “on the ground”?

And finally, viewers who watch Sean Hannity should try counting how often he uses the word “Now” to begin a sentence. Truth is it’s impossible to count the “nows” and, if Sean ever speaks without saying “Now” then it is a major news event.

“So” until we “vape” into next year, when we present more horrible words and phrases that will increase our “price points” at Communities Digital News through renewed interest from the “physicality of our “stakeholders,” we hope you will join the “conversation” with comments on social media because we refuse to “walk it back” since that could be “problematic” regarding our “secret sauce” for success in the future.. “Now” please be “on the ground” for our upcoming “presser.”

Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award-winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.

Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (

Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News

Follow Bob on Twitter @MrPeabod

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