QUIET DESPERATION

Overused words are, like, totally overused

Column by Craig Marshall Smith
Posted 6/16/20

Do you know someone who has a way with words? Or someone who no have way? Lake Superior State University, located in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, has hosted an annual List of Banished Words from the …

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QUIET DESPERATION

Overused words are, like, totally overused

Posted

Do you know someone who has a way with words? Or someone who no have way?

Lake Superior State University, located in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, has hosted an annual List of Banished Words from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Overuse and General Uselessness for the past 45 years. I thought it was about time we had one around here.

MORE: Call for nominations for overused words

You submitted “no problem,” “usual suspects,” “new normal,” “social distancing,” “tone deaf, “influencer,” “essential,” “synergy,” “these ones,” “marginalized,” “outlier,” “right-sized,” “down-sized,” “vibe,” “Seriously?,” “I know, right?,” “it is what it is,” “if memory serves,” and “snollygoster.”

Although “snollygoster” isn’t truly misused or overused, the history lesson Ann McWhite, Arvada, provided warrants a mention. “German immigrants described a mythical beast said to carry off children and poultry.” She added Harry Truman used the word “derogatorily” in reference to “politicians who make a show of public prayer.”

And, Bill O’Reilly “had a fondness for the word.”

“Literally” not only topped Lake Superior State’s list this year, it topped ours too.

Cathy Baldwin, Highlands Ranch, attended Lake Superior State when it was a college and submitted “whatnot” back then. It was rejected. I promised her I would include it, even though Baldwin acknowledged “whatnot” is a useless Michigan word that hasn’t made it to Colorado.

Iris Henderson, Lone Tree, cringes every time she hears “cringeworthy.”

Correspondences with Maureen Kasperek, Castle Rock, enlightened me about the French word “forte” and the Italian word “forte.” Spelled the same but pronounced differently.

Kasperek wrote, “The Italian word ‘forte’ (pronounced ‘for-tay’) should only be used as a term in music. The French word ‘forte’ (pronounced ‘fort’) is used to describe your strong suit or skillset.”

My strong suit is opposing silent letters. What if you named your kid or your dog with nothing but silent letters?

John Hazard, Centennial, submitted “agree to disagree,” and added, “It is one of the most dismissive responses you can say to another person.”

A number of readers share my dislike of “like,” a baleful, wicked, pernicious, dangerous, evil fungus that may have originated with 1950s beatniks.

Jerry Bennett, Highlands Ranch, reminded me that “Like, what’s happening?” is a line from “Alley Oop,” a 1960 one-hit wonder by the Hollywood Argyles.

Dana Oetting, Highlands Ranch, disapproves of “impact,” stating, “It seems that everything will have an impact, has been impacted, or is impacting. It’s enough to make a person have a `Here’s Johnny’ (Jack Nicholson) moment.”

Nancy Tengler, Highlands Ranch, disdains “curated,” which coincidentally appears this year on Lake Superior State’s list. Its frequent use in art galleries and museums has spilled over into other places, and Tengler wants it to stop.

Whenever a commentator or a politician begins a sentence with “Look” or “Listen,” Parker’s William Danford gnashes his teeth.

Karen Yankus, Highlands Ranch, doesn’t care for “You guys.” I’m with her.

Franck, the waiter, asked, “You guys ready to order?” to a table of women.

Beverly Coleman, Englewood, wrote, “I have a friend who uses `actually’ constantly. I have made it into a drinking game. When I’m with her I pretend to take a drink every time she says it.”

Carol Leatherman, Castle Rock, no longer watches Dr. Phil because “he repeatedly pops in `Just sayin’ ” to conclude a viewpoint.”

Both Carol and her husband Denny regret their beloved daughter uses the same expression far too often.

Mrs. Leatherman was the only reader who nominated words that should be used more often — not less often.

“I love you,” “please” and “thank you.”

Thanks to her, Michael Klee, Andi Johnson, Ken Mahrer, Kathy Skosich, Foster Bitton (great name) and 60 others.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.

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