Archives: Banished Words 2002Politics and the Media
DISENFRANCHISE - "Somewhere along the line, somebody stumbled into it thinking he was saying 'disfranchise.' It caught on, and for more than 30 years we've been subjected to this negative-positive abomination. What's next? 'Disenable'? - Mike Bunis, Key West, Florida. "The term has been frequently applied to describe voters who have experienced difficulty in following directions." - J. H. Jaroma, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. "Our country cannot possibly hold that many victims." - Linda, Kansas City, Missouri.
SURGICAL STRIKE -- Over-used in the news media to describe bombing campaigns. "As in bombing a Red Cross building by mistake?" - nominator from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
FRIENDLY FIRE -- "Would unfriendly fire be less painful?" - nominator from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
BRING THEM TO JUSTICE or BRING THE EVIL-DOERS TO JUSTICE - "Practically every news reporter and our President has uttered these words. Now, hearing this phrase is almost comical, even under these most serious circumstances that profoundly affected my home town..." -- a proud New Yorker from Queens.
FAITH-BASED -- "All it means is religious entities, but I presume 'faith-based organizations' will elicit less recoil." - Michele Mooney, Van Nuys, California. "I'm just tired of hearing it. Bombard the phrase with guided Missals." - Elaine Hampton, Burbank, California.
BI-PARTISANSHIP -- "Bipartisanship, to most politicians, only seems to happen when one side gets its way and the other goes along with it. I didn't vote for my guy to submit to the will of the opposing party. I want lots of partisanship!" - Michael Bush, Jersey City, New Jersey.
Anything modified by DOPPLER -- Stems from when TV newscasts began using new doppler weather radar. Now 'doppler-fication' has become a badge of excellence with local newscasts, regardless of whether it involves weather. Even the stations are amused by it. The Morning Crew at YES-FM in Sault Ste. Marie predicts sweet forecasts with its "Hobbler-Dobbler-Peach-Cobbler." Claire Rynders of Madison, Wisconsin, asks, "If my TV station uses 'Doppler 2001,' does that mean weather forecasts are more accurate because it has bigger doppler?"
FRIG and FRIGGING - A sneaky way of getting a version of the dreaded 'F' word on the radio and TV. Is there anything one can't say on the airwaves these days? - Merri Carol Wozniak, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
NINE-ELEVEN (9-11) and its variations -- We received many nominations for this annoying abbreviation that refers to Sept. 11, 2001, the day terrorists attacked and killed thousands in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. Those who sent nominations said they were in no way trying to make light of the day's events, or the subsequent events. Most of them asked if finding a 'cute' abbreviation for the day makes the attacks any easier to accept. "Last year, we had Y2K and 24-7. This year, we have 9-11. This new digital language (digitalk?) should be banned no later than 1-1-Y2K-2...Do we refer to the Chicago Fire as 10-8 because it occurred on Oct. 8, 1871? How about the sinking of the Titanic - it is not called 4-14. A tragic event of such proportion should not be confused with a telephone number. The name will be remembered as long as there are people who can read." - nominator from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. "I can't believe people are abbreviating the worst act of war this country has seen since Pearl Harbor. I've never heard anybody refer to the attack on Pearl Harbor as Twelve-Seven, or 12-7." - nominator from Colorado Springs, Colorado. "It was September 11." -- nominator from Ishpeming, Michigan. "It's over-used and sounds ridiculous when used to represent what happened on September 11. - nominator from Madison, Wisconsin. "It's worse when people play on the ambiguity with '911' in the emergency phone number context." - nominator from Los Angeles, California.
IF...THEN THE TERRORISTS WIN or THE TERRORISTS WILL HAVE WON - "Since Sept. 11, we've heard countless variations of this phrase, usually from politicians, encouraging us to get back to our normal way of life. It has become so over-used as to become almost meaningless, especially when, for example, the Smallville Chamber of Commerce says, 'If you don't come to the annual parade, then the terrorists win.' I can't imagine al-Qaeda cares whether we attend parades...Sorry to have taken up so much space, but if I can't complain about things that bug me, then the terrorists will have won." - nominator from Chicago, Illinois.
"The phrase makes a mockery of those extremely tragic events of that day." - nominator from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
BRAINSTORM/BRAINSTORMING - "Bureaucrats and bosses often use it to sound hip instead of dry. 'We brainstormed.' Didn't you simply 'think'? 'We had a brainstorming session.' Didn't you simply have a meeting?" - Ken Marten, Hamtramck, Michigan. "If you've ever been on a committee for anything, you've heard this." - Thomas Heilman, Lebanon, Pennsylvania.
SYNERGY - nominated by many, including John from Medicine Hat on Lindy Thorsen's CBC radio show out of Regina, Saskatchewan. "It's used as a weasel-word, as in, 'There might be some synergy between our companies,' instead of 'We want to make some money off of you.' It's one of those words that's used by salespeople the way a parrot uses profanities - they blather away without a clue as to its meaning." - Gervase Webb, London, England. "A favorite of politicians and bureaucrats, and used to make one sound smart. It comes from the Greek sunergos, which means 'working together.' Why not just say that? I'll bet most people using the word can't define it." - Ken Marten, Hamtramck, Michigan. "It's a blanket term used by people so they won't have to actually articulate their business case in a meaningful way." - T. Conte, Woodstock, Ontario.
RAMP UP - Often used to suggest an increase in productivity or your product's effectiveness. "Whatever happened to the word 'increase'? - Lance Rivers, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. "Whoever started it should be made to ramp up (walk) the plank." - Howard E. Daniel, Kailua, Hawaii.
EDGY - "Supposedly referring to creative work that is provocative and interesting, the word now has become a signal that someone is trying to 'market' yet another piece of offensively contrived hack work. We should limit the word to physical things that have edges, such as an 'edgy coffee table.'" - Ron LaLonde, Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada.
INFOMMERCIAL - "Is everyone else as tired of this as I am? If a commercial lasts for 30 minutes, it's a PROGRAM. It's also boring!" - John King, Oceanside, California.
MAKING MONEY -- As a caller into a radio program on Detroit's WJR pointed out, only counterfeiters make money. Honest people earn it.
'BOTS -- A fashionable construction that refers to robots. "Please restore the neglected 'ro-'," pleads Bob Forrest of Tempe, Arizona.
Does Not Compute
FUNCTIONALITY - Nominated by many, including listeners of Lindy Thorsen's show on CBC-Regina. "The word is used in the computer field when people don't seem to know how to explain a software feature. It's used as a crutch, and it's used way too much!" - Scott Watson, Oxford, Michigan. "Used all too frequently in the information technology industry to describe attributes and capabilities ... Product 'upgrades' are said to feature 'enhanced functionality,' whatever that is." - Terry Shannon, Ashland, Massachusetts.
KILLER APP -- Used to describe an outstanding computer program. "If its function doesn't approximate that of the HAL 9000 computer from 2001, it's not really a killer application," says Peter Lynn of Toronto, Ontario.
SOLUTIONS -- The Banishment Committee pines for the days when our economy offered merely goods and services. Its usage especially miffs Greg Arens of Brainerd, Minnesota, who points out that "problems demand solutions; needs demand fulfillment."Miscellaneous/Overuse
REALITY TV and REALITY-BASED TV -- "Banish the words, banish the shows, banish the people who came up with the idea for the shows, because there is nothing real about this form of television." - Mary Li, Toronto, Ontario.
CAR-JACKING - "Throughout my long career in law enforcement, there was a name for the forcible taking of an auto from the driver. It's called armed robbery." - John King, Oceanside, California.
IN THE WAKE OF... - "What was ever wrong with the word 'after?'" A caller on WJR Detroit's David Newman Show wondered if we should all take one tablet in the wake of each meal.
NO-BRAINER -- Charles VonHout of Climax, Michigan, wonders, "Who doesn't have the brain in this transaction, you or me?"SPORTS
ATHLETICISM - instead of saying that an athlete is very good. "Not yet in the dictionary, but no doubt on the way...exceeded only by 'tremendous athleticism'!" - Keith, Edwardsville, Illinois. "This word is so over-used by coaches and players that it has ceased to have any meaning (if it ever did). He's graceful. She can jump. She's strong. He's accurate. Give me details." - Sarah Kickler-Kelber, Columbia, Maryland.
RUN THE TABLE - "Sneaking into sports programming to refer to 'winning all games.' For example, 'The Jets have to run the table to make the playoffs.' It's football, dough head, not Casino Royale." Sent by Brian Giffen, Burnaby, British Columbia, who is also bothered by what he calls the proliferation of 'gangspeak' in sports broadcasts, e.g. 'deuce' for 'two,' 'rock' for 'ball.'Redundancies
'Uniquely Unique' has been on the list for many years. Some variations have been showing themselves. TOTALLY UNIQUE - Jeremy Mulliss, New Westminster, British Columbia. VERY UNIQUE - Alastair Forbes, Buckinghamshire, England.
SWORN AFFIDAVIT - "If it is not sworn, it is not an affidavit." - Smitty Landry, New Iberia, Louisiana.
Miguel McCormick of Orlando, Florida, should take his redundancy act on the road. He sent us some beauties. POSSIBLE CHOICES - "No need to include the impossible choices, I'm sure." FOREWARN - "But if not, then warn after the fact." UNPRECEDENTED NEW - "Not to be confused with the unprecedented old one." RENAME IT SOMETHING ELSE - "Be sure not to rename it the same name." DELAY DUE TO AN EARLIER ACCIDENT - "Now in standard use...As distinguished from the delay caused by an accident yet to occur."
FORESEEABLE FUTURE - Just how long is foreseeable? "What about the unforeseeable future?" ponders James Hartman from Winnipeg, Manitoba.