Archives: Banished Words 1992
Viable Alternative - This phrase is banned for overuse, resulting in uselessness. The principal meaning of viable is biological: capable of living. It has evolved to mean capable of actualization, hence practicable. But its overuse is judged to have degenerated from biological precision to banality. Terminate is viability. Whenever a politician, educator, coach, or policy analyst cannot explain the status quo, he claims to be seeking one or more viable alternatives. Few of these alternatives ever come into being. Everyone is seeking; no one is finding. Alternatives never materialized. Specify the alternatives being considered. Come on, Anglophones, give your alternatives names. Dont lump or hide them under viable. Prof. Justin Agony, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
Angst The former hit TV show thirtysomething convinced half of the U.S. population that they are victims of angst or just angst-ridden. Enough with the ANGST already. Its making me anxious. Get rid of it. And banish the variations on the theme thirtysomething while youre at it. Im tired of fortysomething, teenagesomething. somethingsomething has to give. Tom Rademacher, Grand Rapids, Mich.
The apostrophe Get rid of it. Ban it. No one knows how to use it. It is a possessive code mark, not an expression or a word. You cannot purchase 24s of Apple Crisp or 12s of your favorite cold capsule. There are no dos; there are dont's. There are no MDs with special training, nor are there CDs all in one case. Clothiers do not sell socks nor do jewelers deal in 1000s of items. You might as well banish the apostrophe. Too few Americans have the slightest idea how to use one.
Surrounding Environs which is a pale redundancy when compared to return back again, which I have heard uttered on radio and TV broadcasts. Michelle Mooney, Los Angeles, Calif.
Deaccessioning As in artwork being deaccessioned. This is evidently considered a more-tasteful term than dumped. Gene J. Gilmore, Grand Rapids, Mich.
Sanction when we mean restriction;
Oversight- when we mean supervise or monitor;
Bottom Line for terminal overuse. Sheridan Baker, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Up Front ought to be banned, as in lets be up front about this. It makes me want to upthrow.
Connect or Hook Up Ill connect or hook up with you later, and Thanks for connection (or hooking up) with me. Good Lord, dont tell my wife that we connected. J. Gregory Winn, St. Paul, Minn.
Arguably should be banished as overused. Norman W. Larson, St. Paul, Minn. (Ed.: Were reasonably supportive of this banishment as in Bubba is arguably the worst place-kicker in the NFL.)
Deproliferation needs to go. It isnt in any dictionary Ive perused. Yet it is a part of day-in, day-out language. Lisse Hill, Ypsilanti, Mich.
Out-placement (a euphemism for fired);
Talk to Real Live Girls on 900- (Would you talk to dead girls?); Done Deal: Is that anything like a dead lock?
Customer Capital-Reduction Plan It means down payment. Why not leave it at that? The only reduction is to your bank account. Nell Gaball, Marquette, Mich.
In my humble opinion should be banished because it makes me feel abused, amused, misused, confused, suspicious, and nauseous. Joan Niederhofer, Frankfort, Mich.
Overview Wouldnt summary or commentary be better? M. June Dohse, Anchorage, Alaska.
Apparent as in he died of an apparent heart attack. Its he apparently died of a heart attack. (Ed.: If the attack were apparent, someone should have noticed.) Harry Shecter, M.D., Farmington Hills, Mich.
Big Time as in hes doing cocaine big time. (Ed.: In the big house!)
Quality When used to denote ice cream, time, or merchandise of any kind. Quality has non anymore because its associated with everything from groceries to services and most of the time falls far short of quality. (Ed.: This qualifies!)
Condition as in a heart condition. What does that mean? (Ed.: We hope, hearts are in good condition.)
Positive to mean good.
Negative to mean bad. Edward X. Tuttle, Southfield, Mich.
Fisherperson and other gender-neutral phraseology. I am saddened by the passing of MANkind, the huMAN race, the family of MAN, and never again being a chairMAN, alderMAN, or fisherMAN. Fisherperson is unnecessary terminology anyway, given that angler already exists. Lets get rid of political correctness and gender neutral while were at it. W. Van Sickle, St. Joseph Island, Ont. Canada
Momento instead of memento. This mistake is more common in speech than in writing, but a newspaper wrote officials wanted momentos carved for the 1990 Labatt Brier (Ed.: Sounds like a lapse in time.) Roy Sutton, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Canada
Get With The Program I reply: its being revised, (Ed.: correct if addressed to computer operators.) Wanda Johnson, Wayne, Mich.
As Well Radio announcers who use the phrase apparently are impressed by their own verbosity. As well lacks the succinct dynamism of also and the punch of too, which it is intended to replace. John Pehoski, Lake Superior State University Student, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
Home when it refers to real estate. Example home builder. Others: Home sales are up. An 18th-century home. Four homes were destroyed. These are all institutional references. Its HOUSE, not home. If you work outside of the home, are you employed away from your house, or maintaining the grounds at a mental institution? Name and address withheld by request.
Please banish the rare quadruple negative printed in the accompanying newspaper article headed: obscenity issue dropped from arts bill: In a 214-205 vote, with several Western lawmakers switching positions, the house REJECTED an attempt to OVERTURN a deal that AXED the ANTI-obscenity measure in exchange for maintaining grazing subsidies for Western ranchers. Say what? Joseph Kimble, Lansing, Mich.
Spousal Unit and Female Brethren The author of an article containing both of these phrases is guilty of excessive pseudo gender sensitivity. N.O. Stockmeyer, Jr., Lansing, Mich.
I see what you are saying used by persons with exceptional eyesight and questionable word selection. (Ed.: Its correct if uttered by a person reading lips.) Jack Dietrich, Albuquerque, New Mexico
To Be Perfectly Honest With You When someone says that to me, it shows me he has already considered the possibility of lying to me and, for some reason, has discarded it. It also makes me wonder if hes lied to me before, and now is trying to lead a more moral life. Dianne Linden, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
RBIs The baseball term is short for runs batted in. Hence RBIs is incorrect. The term, after all, is not runs batted ins. Wally Joyner of the California Angels did not have 96 RBIs in 1991. He had 96 RBI. G.N. Constable, Mansfield, Ohio (Ed.: And, thanks in part to all those RBI, Wally signed a huge free-agent contract in the off-season with the Kansas City Royals.)
Level Playing Field Is there any other kind? Margaret DeChant, Newberry, Mich.
Cautiously Optimistic Can you be cautiously reckless, or recklessly cautious? Lets find a lessbombastic phrase like timidly hopeful or hoping timidly. (Ed.: Were cautiously cynical that banishment will be effective.) David McFarlane, Haslett, Mich.
Ministry as applied to lay people performing any function whatever in church circles. Carol Smith, Fairbanks, Alaska (Ed.: Is there a ministry of snow removal, yet?)
Community should be banished for overuse. The original meaning of this word has been lost in the media, which blithely gives us such nonsense as the ballet-dancing community; the stock-broking community; the international community (whatever it is) and, my all-time favorite, the intravenous drug-using community. Eli Levine, Santa Barbara, California.
Shallow Grave Every time the body of a murder victim is discovered in the ground, the news media tell us the body was discovered in a shallow grave. What exactly does that mean? How shallow is shallow? Are murder victims ever found in deep or average graves? Lets eliminate the cliché. Either tell us how deep the grave was in feet, inches, meters, etc. or just report that the body was found buried. David W. Downing, St. Paul, Minn.
More Importantly This is the most-overworked phrase in the English language today. Whats worse, its grammatically incorrect. Important is an adjective, not an adverb. Translation: this is important; this is more important. Everyone in the U.S.: scholars, media types, politicians, speech writers everywhere, abuse this phrase. Lets consign this one to the trash can forever. Dorothy Powers, WJR Radio, Detroit, Mich.
Quality Education No doubt, higher education define, even quantify this term for their own use. But few if any politicians know what theyre buying with the growing billions of dollars worth of higher education services for which theyre paying. Teaching has become the principal outcome of education, not learning. You can validate this hypothesis by counting the words teaching and learning in news media coverage of our educators and politicians. This obviates independent learning capabilities as a desired outcome of education because it conflicts with the educators goal of indispensability. Ask a shop teacher what time it is and hell tell you how to build a clock. Is it possible that Lake Superior State is a covertly subversive organization? Do you have any idea of the hallowed institutions that are built on jargon? Howard Garver, M/SGT retired U.S. Army, Urbana, Ill.