By Jeanne Atkinson

On New Year’s Day 1976, the public relations director of Michigan-based Lake Superior State University (LSSU) and a handful of friends decided to have some fun, PR style, so they created a list of words they believed should be excised from the English language. Thirty-seven years later, the “List of Words Banished From the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness” is still going strong.

Each year, LSSU receives thousands of word and phrase nominations from people around the world—words and phrases that make us cringe from overuse, that grate on us from misuse, and that have lost meaning from wrong use (wrong use: a 2013 nomination?). And while this is all tongue in cheek and no one really has to fear a visit by the Word Police if they choose to use a “banished” word or phrase, it is worth noting that each year’s list is reported by media outlets big and small—as news stories, on blogs, in e-zines, through Twitter and on Facebook.

Why the fascination? Because, simply, words matter. And when words become so trendy that they are used constantly or are erroneously applied in situations that make no sense or their meanings are contorted to try to make them apply, well, it’s time for an intervention. Think of this list as a spring cleaning for language (except it’s in winter).

Without further ado, the list of banned words for 2012, in order of nominations, is:


baby bump

shared sacrifice



man cave

the new normal

pet parent

win the future



thank you in advance