Lake Superior State University 2019 List of Banished Words

Every year, an elite group of words and phrases have the dubious honour of making Lake Superior State University’s annual Banished Words List. The university selects words that are generally overused, annoying, or both. The following are some of the words that made the cut for 2019.

Tweet – Twitter is one of those things that I just don’t get, and don’t want to get. I wonder if there’s a word for that. The number of variations of the word (e.g., retweet, twitterature, and twittersphere) attests to the speed at which this social networking service became so popular.

Lake Superior State University 2019 List of Banished Words

Transparent/transparency – Anyone who works in a corporate office has heard, read, spoken, or written this term. An organization that practices transparency is supposed to be open and accountable about its dealings. Politically, it means the same thing, but somehow is just a little less convincing (or, perhaps, more unconvincing?). In the business sense, this is almost as bad as “open door policy”.

Czar – Journalists use this term as a metaphor for authority figures. But unless you’re talking about a person like Nicholas II, there’s really no need to call someone a czar. The strangest application of the term, though, has to be the commonly used “drug czar”.


App – I’m impervious to the alleged overuse of this term, because I’ve long been accustomed to it from working in the software industry. For 2020, though, I would nominate “killer app”.

Chillaxin’ – Why is this one only making the list now? I would have thought it due for inclusion at least five years ago. Myself, I prefer “Take a chill pill,” or even “Chillatte!”

Obama as a prefix or root – This includes words like as Obamanomics, Obamacare, and Obamalicious. (What is that? Does it mean one looks as good as a U.S. president on a men’s fitness magazine cover?) Although it doesn’t quite fall into this category, I’m partial to these Barack Obrownies.

Teachable moment – According to About.com, a teachable moment is “an unplanned opportunity that arises in the classroom where a teacher has an ideal chance to offer insight to his or her students.” It’s an educational term, appropriated by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (in response to his 2009 arrest), and then used by President Obama regarding the same incident.

See the entire list at the Lake Superior State University web site.