10 Words and Phrases That Should Be Banished in 2022
Let's do a deep dive, shall we? Here's why these words and phrases made Lake Superior State University's annual banished list.
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Misused and overused phrases that are better left unsaid
Communication is a tricky thing. You may say something you think is crystal-clear, or perfectly summarizes your point, only to leave your recipient confused—or annoyed. We abide by key grammar rules when writing, so why shouldn’t we follow key communication rules, too? One of those rules: Mean what you say, and say what you mean. That means cutting the fluff, even if you’re itching to use funny or fancy words.
Looking for word fluff to ditch? Consider the 10 words and phrases below. Each year, Lake Superior State University (LSSU) releases a cheeky list of words and phrases that should be banished due to misuse, overuse, and uselessness. According to LSSU’s website, this annual tradition, started in 1976, aims to “uphold, protect, and support excellence in language by encouraging avoidance of words and terms that are overworked, redundant, oxymoronic, clichéd, illogical, nonsensical—and otherwise ineffective, baffling, or irritating.” This year’s list was whittled down from more than 1,250 global nominations throughout 2021. Read on to see which words and phrases made the list of words to avoid in 2022, and why.
Example: “Did you hear that David is moving to Alaska?” “Wait, what?”
Yep, “Wait, what?” was this year’s top phrase to banish. Chances are you’ve heard this while chatting with someone in person, via text, or on social media. You may have uttered this phrase yourself to express shock or to have someone repeat themselves. According to the LSSU judges and several nominators, these words are misused and should not be put together because “the two-part halting interrogative is disingenuous, divergent, and deflective.”
Example: “Thank you for helping me with that.” “No worries!”
You’ll likely hear someone say “no worries” as a response to “thank you.” While there’s good intent behind the phrase, writers across the globe nominated it for its misuse. Looking at the phrase’s meaning, it technically isn’t a proper substitution for “thank you.” “If I’m not worried, I don’t want anyone telling me not to worry,” a contributor stated. “If I am upset, I want to discuss being upset.” Speaking of words, here are some of the hardest words to spell in the English language.
“At the end of the day”
Example: “At the end of the day, the work we do matters.”
This phrase actually made LSSU’s banished word list back in 1999, but alas, it persists. The problem with it? “Many times things don’t end at the end of the day—or even the ramifications of whatever is happening,” a participant observed. Also, what exactly is meant by “day” when you say this? Actually today, or present times? It may not be clear in your context. Something else that may not be clear: how to spell these commonly misspelled words.
“That being said”
Example: “I think that’s a promising idea. That being said, let’s see what others think.”
This is a verbal filler that’s often meant to transition into another thought. It’s a redundant phrase—you can easily replace it with “however” or even edit it to “that said.” As one participant wrote: “Go ahead and say what you want already!” While you’re at it, go ahead and read up on what Wordle is and how to win, according to an expert.
“Asking for a friend”
Example: “Do you know where I can find a good hairstylist with availability? Asking for a friend.”
Some may think this phrase is Gen Z slang, but it’s used by all generations. You’ve likely seen “asking for a friend” written on social media. It’s often used in deceit; how many people are actually asking for a friend, and not just saying it in avoidance of asking for themselves? One participant said, “Once used to avoid embarrassment, as in, ‘Do you know a good proctologist? I’m asking for a friend.’ Sometimes an occasional sitcom joke. Now an overused tag with absolutely no relationship to its antecedent.”
Example: “Let’s circle back to this in our next meeting.”
The work-from-home era is ushering in overused corporate jargon that, quite frankly, we can do without. “Circle back” is a popular phrase used when one wants to say, “Hey, let’s come back this.” So why not say that instead? As LSSU puts it, “[It] treats colloquy like an ice skating rink, as if we must circle back to our previous location to return to a prior subject.”
Example: “I’m doing a deep dive into this report tomorrow morning.”
Similar to “circle back,” “deep dive” has become a corporate jargon crutch that’s misused. What’s stopping you from saying, “I’m looking at this report more in-depth tomorrow morning”? It’s a clearer message that doesn’t misuse a phrase that’s better suited for a lake day. “The only time to dive into something is when entering a body of water, not going more in-depth into a particular subject or book,” one participant stated.
Example: “We’re still trying to navigate the new normal in 2022.”
This is one of the banished words and phrases on this list derived from COVID-19 matters, along with the two listed below. Once used to describe our current reality amid the pandemic, it’s become an overused catchall to describe mankind’s status with a hint of defeatism. “Those clamoring for the days of old, circa 2019, use this to signal unintentionally that they haven’t come to terms with what ‘normal’ means,” one participant noted. Another participant asked, “After a couple of years, is any of this really new?”
“You’re on mute”
Example: “We can’t hear you—you’re on mute.”
How many times have we heard this phrase over the past two years? “You’re on mute” was commonly said at the start of the pandemic as people adjusted to their new work-from-home tech and even learned some handy Zoom shortcuts. But now? “We’re two years into remote working and visiting. It’s time for everyone to figure out where the mute button is,” one participant stated.
Example: “Supply chain issues have caused shortages across the globe.”
Supply chain issues do exist amid the pandemic and have even caused price hikes on items. However, the phrase’s frequent overuse is what landed it on this list. “It’s become automatically included in reporting of consumer goods shortages or perceived shortages. In other words, a buzzword,” one analyst said. Another participant noted, “Supply chain issues have become the scapegoat of everything that doesn’t happen or arrive on time and of every shortage.”
- Lake Superior State University: “2022 Banished Words List”