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16 Overused Words (and Phrases) You Should Stop Saying ASAP

Oh dear yeet! These slang words, jargon, and phrases made Lake Superior State University's latest annual list of words that should be banished.

16 Overused Words (and Phrases) You Should Stop Saying ASAPBarbra Ford/Shutterstock


Every year, Lake Superior State University puts out a List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness, with nominations coming through the college’s website and a Facebook page. For the 2019 list, collusion was one of the top three words that voters found deeply annoying. John Shibley, a spokesman for the poll, says this isn’t a “political statement,” but rather a sign of general irritation with the word. That is, there was a no collusion involved with this word appearing top on the list.

 lying in the hand of the child's American coin in a quarter. Photo closeup with a small depth of field.rsooll/Shutterstock

Wrap my head around

The general public has had it with this common idiom that forces you to imagine your head as silly putty that you’re contorting over a problem.The phrase is believed to have originated in the 1920s and refers to trying to understand something difficult. You might not be able to make heads or tails of a situation, but the general public hopes you’ll find some other way to describe it. These are the 10 most annoying phrases you probably use all the time.

Grapple hook for move heavy object in construction.Stockphotocorner/Shutterstock


The origin of this seemingly innocent word comes from seizing or gripping, but there’s also an object known as a grapple—it’s an iron thing that hooks ships together. Even though it should go without saying that folks should grapple intellectually, critics argue the word should be reserved for physical grappling, rather than for debating issues.

16 Overused Words (and Phrases) You Should Stop Saying ASAPWorawee Meepian/Shutterstock


In the age of social media and personal branding, folks became obsessed with the “optics” of their every move: How would it be perceived by the viewing public? When describing appearance, the word optics is past its prime and sounds too much like jargon. But feel free to use it if you’re referring to the actual science of light or forms of radiation, which this word also refers to. Don’t miss these other 11 things you should never say at work.

close up of white sugar cubesChones/Shutterstock


You pronounce it “eh-shoo,” which is fun to say because you get to feel fancy, but this word has lost all its style. It means “to abstain,” so you can use it when talking about gluten or the bad kind of sugar. However, the verb has lost all its panache because it’s usually just used as filler in writing. Does anyone ever really say it out loud? Please eschew it. Replace it with these 10 vintage slang words that people should start using again.

partial view of african american businessman typing on laptop LightField Studios/Shutterstock

Thought leader

A thought leader is a person who has a lot of authority, but you don’t know what their actual job is—or if they even have one. Think of people who’ve given TED talks or written viral blog posts. They are leading edge in terms of telling you what you should think. Of course we need experts, but how about lead your own thoughts? This term is so over.

Young woman and little child holding american flag. Independence Day concept. Family togetherMaria Sbytova/Shutterstock


You have a platform, don’t you? You’ll need a platform if you’re a “thought leader” or any type of expert. It’s basically the imaginary stage (read: soapbox) you’re metaphorically standing on to get your point across. But just because you have a social media account doesn’t mean you need to use that platform to rant. Get over it.

16 Overused Words (and Phrases) You Should Stop Saying ASAPMr.Whiskey/Shutterstock


Ghost finally became a popular verb, but now people are annoyed and want the masses to quit using it. The term is basically the millennial equivalent of getting stood up for a date without any explanation. You can participate in ghosting by dropping out of conversations in a dating app, leaving your fiancée at the altar, or haunting a house in spectral form. Here’s where your favorite slang words actually came from.

thumbs up , bright backgroundI.Dr/Shutterstock


Oh for yeet’s sake, go yeet yourself into a lake, why don’t you? Why are people sick of the word, yeet? So many glorious, yeetilicious possibilities. It’s a slang word that is next-level extra. Yeet means “to vigorously throw or toss.” Let’s keep it around! All hail yeet! YFF, yeet fleek forever!

On second thought, let’s not.

Judge's gavel on grey table. Law conceptNew Africa/Shutterstock


This term gets tossed around often to refer to various controversies that are getting “litigated” in the public sphere. Folks are mad at this term because it’s not being used in a way that’s technically correct. If you’re not actually talking about a lawsuit, you’re using the term archaically. Maybe instead substitute dispute, debate, bicker over, or yeet with. Just kidding. Never say yeet. It’s apparently more annoying than litigate, but that’s up for debate. Stop using these other 26 words that make you sound less intelligent than you are.

Much of drinking cans close upNneirda/Shutterstock

Legally drunk

This term is a bit misleading because there’s nothing legal about getting behind the wheel when you’re legally drunk (i.e. have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher). So shouldn’t it be illegally drunk? In most states it’s usually legal to be drunk (if you’re of the drinking age and not disturbing the peace), just please don’t drive that way. Cheers!

Red color flag pin thumbtack a date on calendar or planner.Tax Day falls on April 15 each year.(selective focus)Tama2u/Shutterstock


Some adverbs (those descriptive words that usually end in -ly) are sometimes frowned upon because they are excessively and annoyingly unnecessary. You’re probably using importantly to give your point an extra dose of importance. Just don’t. Less is more in this case. People want you to stop using this word. It’s very important to them.

Jewelry and box on gray backgroundAfrica Studio/Shutterstock


Who doesn’t love to fling French phrases to and fro, ooh la la, oui, yes? If you say accoutrements in reference to whatever accessories are required for whatever you’re up to, be sure to lace it with a thick French accent for extra flair. Then never say it again because it’s totally dated. On the other hand, here are 10 old-fashioned words that can make you sound smart.

Voter Holds Envelope In Hand Above Vote Ballot On Blue Background. Freedom Democracy ConceptSergey Tinyakov/Shutterstock

Most important election of our time

There’s nothing more annoying and overused than redundancies, even though so many things happen over and over again. Like elections. Whichever one is currently happening or upcoming is the most important election of our time. “Our time” is apparently defined as the day in which that election takes place. They’re all vital—and so is your vote! It’s the most important vote of your time during each election!

whiteAndrea Izzotti/Shutterstock


So you’ve probably heard of POTUS (President of the United States,) FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States, SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) and BFFOTUS (Best Friend Forever of the United States.) Well, maybe not that last one. Anyway, the -OTUS acronyms are MOWOTUS: the most overused words of the United States. Give them a rest, please. Find out the single most annoying word in the English language.

Legs bankrupt in black holey socks on a black backgroundRuslan Galiullin/Shutterstock


It’s fine to describe your toasted baguette as crusty, but it’s simply too much if you use crusty to describe people who need showers. It’s also a term that’s been used to describe anything ugly or cheap. Get yourself some nice accoutrements and describe them accordingly—no need for crusty accessories, or for the word crusty. Read on for 20 other trendy slang words that need to end ASAP.

Molly Pennington, PhD
Molly is a writer and professional astrologer with a PhD in Critical and Cultural Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. She covers the zodiac, books, movies, TV, and culture for She loves puns, puzzles, people, the planet Mars, and philosophizing.

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