The word geek that I am, I usually look forward to the Lake Superior State University’s List of Banished Words. The 2012 list really disappointed me. “Baby bump” and “man cave”? I can’t say they’re all that obnoxious. “Awesome” has been as universally vague and overused as “nice” for years. “Ginormous” flashed out almost as soon as it made the pages of the Merriman-Webster Dictionary in 2007, and “thank you in advance” has been used as a passive-aggressive assumption that someone will do what you want for decades.
While there are a number of profane words I should purge from my vocabulary, these are my Top 5 that I’ve refused to put to print for some time:
Fine dining: When I was a kid, my mother would put on a cocktail dress and my dad would begrudgingly put on a jacket and tie to go out to eat with their friends to white tablecloth establishments that didn’t welcome children. Today, the atmosphere of 5-star dining establishments has become blurred, with many such that encourage smart casual attire in casual settings. And just because you can dress the same way at places like Champps and PF Chang’s China Bistro, it doesn’t make them fine dining establishments, too, regardless of what some people think.
Hypocrite/hypocrisy: This became the No. 1 mudslinging weapon as soon as the 2012 presidential campaign got underway this past summer. I’ll forever consider it toxic name calling and value judgment unless someone truly defies the morals and virtues they claim to uphold.
Innovation/innovative: To me, “innovation” and “innovative” are up there with “cutting-edge,” “state of the art” and “out of the box.” “Innovation” has been around since man invented the wheel, and if you aren’t being innovative, you’re not surviving or succeeding. “Innovation” and “innovative” shouldn’t be used as a self-congratulatory pats on the back to position yourself or your company above all others; it’s what companies should do and be every day.
Unique: “Unique” is often used to describe something that’s distinctive or special, and those are great qualities. Take a clue from the root of the word, “uni,” which means one, single, or having no equal or duplicate.
Upscale: This is a word that should be used to describe something that’s financially out of reach of most people’s lives, like Bloomingdale’s, Neiman-Marcus or Gucci. Instead, “upscale” is often used to describe something that’s new, polished and modern. For example, a few years ago, when a new outdoor mall was being built, everyone – civic leaders, reporters at a competing newspaper, and even my friends – kept calling it “upscale.” Sorry, but anchors such as DSW and Dick’s Sporting Goods cater to middle-of-the-road America and there’s nothing wrong or inferior about that. Besides, DSW doesn’t carry Christian Louboutin shoes.
Now if only could only buy a pair of Louboutins to kick these words to the curb.