AirTalk for January 2, 2013

Spoiler alert, fiscal cliff and artisanal make list of banished words for 2012

View of the Oxford American College dict

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

View of the Oxford American College dictionary taken in Washington on November 16, 2009. The New Oxford American Dictionary named "unfriend" -- as in deleting someone as a friend on a social network such as Facebook -- its word of the year on Monday. Oxford University Press USA, in a blog post, said "unfriend," a verb, had bested netbook, sexting, paywall, birther and death panel for the honor. "Unfriend has real lex-appeal," said Christine Lindberg, senior lexicographer for Oxford’s US dictionary program.

Every year brings a new crop of overused cliches, meaningless phrases and words with redirected meanings that somehow enter the zeitgeist and won’t leave. Thirty-eight years ago, Bill Rabe, public relations director at Michigan’s Lake Superior State University, compiled the most egregious examples into the first annual list of "Words to be Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness.”  

In 1975, the list included "detente," "scenario," "macho," and "meaningful," which, the list’s creators claimed, had “lost all of its meaningfulness.”  This year, “bucket list” and “kicking the can down the road”  have joined the phrases “trending” among “haters” on the “Twitterverse.”  Ditto for “artisanal,” “selfie,” and “spoiler alert.”

We don’t like to “humblebrag,” but we’ve been keen on replacing the overused “fiscal cliff" with the far more apocalyptic “Cliffaggeddon.”  What words, phrases and twitterisms are you sooo over?  Call in and tell us - YOLO!


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