Redefining the Classroom

Archives: Banished Words 1989

Download a Printable Poster of 1989 Banished Words

At The Top

Catastrophic Health Insurance – A contradiction in terms. Even if it isn’t, I sure don’t want to buy insurance to make certain that I acquire catastrophic health. I have enough problems as it is. – Karl Zipf, Walla Walla, Washington.

Gourmet – As an adjective. What, or whom, does “gourmet-flavor” cat food taste like? – George H. Drury, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Babyboomers – A cheap catch phrase for people born during a population explosion of their own making. – Dave Frownfelder (News Director), Mike Clement (Sports Director), WLEN Radio, Adrian, Michigan.

Soft Wheel Infrastructure System – Bureaucratic lingo gone mad. Use highways. – Chris Thompson, Duluth, Minnesota.

Signs Of The Times

Cul-De-Sac – Used by real estate agents because it’s fancier than dead end; means: last street to be plowed after a snow storm. – Bruce Gemmel, Georgetown, Ont.

Total Capacity Of This Room Limited To 100 Persons – Probably developed by sign makers paid by the letter. Redundant! Total, capacity and limit all have the same meaning. “THIS ROOM” on a sign in a room is also unnecessary, as a sign for the next room wouldn’t be posted in this room. The noun, persons, is superfluous, unless the locals are apt to bring elephants along for a meal.” “Capacity 100” is sufficient for most reasonable, reasoning human beings. – Joseph S. Bommarito, Portage, Michigan.

Ped-Xing – On road signs. (If feet are crossing the road, what’s attached? Pretty, Exotic Dancers?) See spin Doctor. – Bob Bates, Columbus, Ohio.

Cold Glass Of Beer – Who cares about the temperature of the glass? – Called into the City Desk Show, Joe Easingwood, C-Fax Radio, Victoria, British Columbia.

Handicap Parking – Is this where you park your disability? – Joanne D. Denko, M.D., Rocky River, Ohio.

Quarts Watches – Store sign reported in Boston. Could I buy a half-gallon watch? Would it cost me less to buy a pint-size watch? – M.E. O’Rourke, Dorcherster, Massachusetts.


Glove Compartment – Great-Granddad stopped putting his driving gloves in a glove compartment around 1910. We can’t have archaic and eat it too. – Ivan Evasivitch, Chicago, Illinois.

Sports Balderdash

Good Hands – “He’s got the good hands.” Could be a baseball player, or a football player. Which does a nose tackle need: good hands, or small nostrils? Could he be a tight end with good hands? Are there any loose ends with bad hands? Let’s give ‘em all a hand, with our good hands. – Jim Cook, Scarborough, Ontario.

Defense – Used as a verb by sportscasters. “Bubba O’Sullivan is a quarterback who is though to defense.” Use the verb DEFEND. When I hear that folks are DEFENSING, I expect to see a work crew removing lengths of fencing. Will the fences around the stadium eventually disappear? – Robert M Anderson, Chelsea, Michigan.

Tough Road To Hoe – Don’t use a hoe on roads. A hoe is too small and the road is too wide; too tough to hoe. Use a hoe to make rows in fields of soft dirt, but not on a playing field. It’s a tough ROW to hoe, by the Joe. – Vince Greiner, Hart, Michigan.

Fresh Remarks

Fresh Donuts – “We make ‘em fresh every day.” Could they make them stale? (Probably. But who would want stale donuts?) – Jerome Blattner, Lima, Ohio.

Fresh Frozen – Is “stale thawed” the result? – Robert M. Sage, Ft. Myers, Florida.

Farm-Fresh – The downwind “freshness” of many farms reveals this is an ill-chosen term. (Hey there shopper, even been to a farm?) – Jack Dietrich, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Supermarket Fresh – This applies to Supermarket donuts? (May be better than farm fresh.) – Henry F. Lauber, Ferguson, Missouri.

Fresh Baked – How else do you bake it? – John T. Brown, Mansfield, Ohio.

Redundancy Alert

Alcohol-Related Drunk Driving – What other kind is there?

Ink Pen – Is this used to avoid confusion with pig pen? – Ken Terpstra, Jenison, Michigan.

Pizza Pie – Why call a pie a “pie-pie?” Fie on the double pie, even if it’s thick crust. – Beverly Murray, Cranford, New Jersey.

Pre-Planning – A funeral home in Gulfport, MS, asks people to do pre-planning. (Probably for their predestination.) – Kathryn H. Stine, Gautier, Mississippi.

Wise Old Adage – I thought ADAGE meant wise old saying. This means, wise, wise, old, old saying; even Ann Landers gets this one wrong. – M.W. Connell, Grosse Pointe, Michigan.

Hand-Blown Glass – As a frequent patron of craft shows, I have yet to find any mouth-blown glass. Can craftsmen’s hands do tricks that we don’t know about? – John T. Brown, Mansfield, Ohio.

Political Peroration

Read My Lips – You should have used my 1987 entry. If it had been banned last year, we would not have had to listen to this throughout the 1988 campaign. In the interest of forging a kinder and gentler nation, I am withdrawing my 1987 suggestion that the lips of all political candidates be fattened up for easier reading. – Michael Locke, Mt. Clemens, Michigan.

Sound Bite – Must refer to the words that a successful candidate will have to eat after the election. – Keith C. Krahnke, Paradise, Michigan.

Spin Doctor – This must refer to a terrific slam dancer with an M.D. Or does it describe a nice move to the hoop by Julius Erving? What kind of illness can be treated this way, vertigo? – M. DeChant, Newberry, Michigan.

Television Patois

Docudrama – Sounds like the high priest of an offshoot Eastern religion. “I went to the high mountain to commune with His Holiness the Docudrama.”

Mini Series – A movie that has been hacked up because it’s to long, or too boring to show in its entirety on one night. A MINI SERIES should be a series which looks (and looks) at women’s skirts.

Dramedy – This hybrid, drama/comedy, of the “Moonlighting” genre, sounds like a camel with the shingles.”

Infotainment – Another Hybrid, information/entertainment, a Geraldo Rivera specialty. Sounds like a government policy to stem the spread of communism by flooding Third World countries with free copies of The Reader’s Digest. – Keith C. Krahnke, Paradise, Michigan.

Aussie Alert

Mate, Spark Up The Barbie, Too Right – and all the other Australian slang: Aussiisms creeping like crocodiles into North Americans English. Send them back down under to die in the outback. – Susie O’Donnell, a.k.a. The Sooze, Willowdale, Ontario


Re mediate– This little gem comes from educators, the same functional illiterates who use the word competency.

Zeroize – This little dandy lurks in the field of espionage, waiting to jump out at us. Crypto equipment is zeroized, rather than reset. Educators could use this euphemism for fail, as in, “Mrs. Jones, your son Johnny has been Zeroized.” (We thought it referred to Little Orphan Annie’s invisible pupils.) – Robert E. Smading, Bellevue, Washington

Cult Classic – Late-night televised movies. “I was a Zombie,” “Teenage Zombie,” “I was a Zombie for the F.B.I.,” “Zombie High School,” “Zombie Surfers Can’t Die.” Presumably these are classics to Zombie Cults.

Classic – anything classic. Although you banned this in 1982, it has escaped the sportscaster’s lexicon. It now permeates national advertising! Coca Cola has “NEW” Coke banging on “CLASSIC” Coke, which of course is OLD Coke. Students were told about Shakespeare, Van Gogh, and Beethoven classics. Their ad-choked minds may equate classics to “Nude Descending a Staircase – With Coke,” or “The Thinker – With Hamburger,” Or “To Eat Or Not To Eat – That’s the Indigestion.”

Scratch Biscuits – All of the fast-food outlets now put my breakfast on one of these. It makes me wonder if these products are made form dandruff or fleas. I can also buy steakbiscuits and hambiscuits. If these things grow on a cow, or pig, they must grow where I can’t see them. - Lou Vodopya, Nashville, Tennessee

Pseudo Spanish – Folks out here say “hasta la bye bye” and “hasta lumbago” for “hasta la vista.” This reflects a bad attitude, know here as a TUDE. – Denise M. Brummel, Redondo Beach, California

Managing Terrorism – Book title. Good trick if you can do it. (Must be an autobiography.) – Nadine S. Kapper, Alta Loma, California

Prostrate Gland – This is not a gland that bows or kneels in adoration; nor does it throw itself on the earth face down. It’s not prostRate. It’s prostate. There is no R in this gland. – Edwina L. Wilkinson, R.N., New Baltimore, Michigan

Or Whatever – When the words won’t come and you’re living on the jagged edge of linguistic endurance, simply insert OR WHATEVER. Here in Canada it’s a kind of hamburger extender for a lean lexicon. – Ron Jeffels, Richmond, British Columbia

Enclosed Please Find – If it’s enclosed any idiot can find it. – Rosemary K. Burroughs, Bryan, Texas.

Designer – Jeans, blouses, perfume, coats, windows. A designer is the one who plans who designs, who makes original sketches, patterns, scenes. If someone actually drew upon your entire lower body then you could claim to display designer jeans, or a massive tattoo. – Charles Riley, Mansfield, Ohio

Forced Relaxation – A modern behavior management technique used on children. Similar to the old fashion “stand in the corner.” According to the descriptive material submitted: “The child is quickly restrained… restricted to a chair or floor… must stay there for a minimum of three minutes PLUS 10 quiet seconds… no struggling before release… Be careful to use ONLY the amount of pressure necessary to maintain the child in the forced relaxation position… be ever ready to reapply the pressure should your child begin again to resist.” (Could adults benefit from this modern technique at the end of a tough day?) An Orwellian oxymoron. – Mary Sullivan, Marquette, Michigan.