‘GOAT’, ‘inflection point’ and ‘silent shutdown’ should be banned, says annual list


For the love of all things sacred, please stop saying “GOAT” – unless you’re shouting about a herd of medium sized animals.

At least that’s what a team of judges from Lake Superior State University in Michigan think of the term – an acronym for “greatest of all time” – which tops the list of words banned this year.

The university has released its annual list, made up of submissions from around the world, which highlights phrases or words that its judges deem misused, overused – or just plain unnecessary.

“GOAT,” along with “inflection point,” “quiet dropout,” and “gaslighting” appear on the list, which has been published annually since 1976.

The list serves “to maintain, protect and support excellence in the language by encouraging the avoidance of overloaded, redundant, oxymoronic, cliché, illogical, nonsense – and otherwise ineffective, confusing or irritating words and terms”, according to the university, which said it received more than 1,500 applications.

“The ‘greatest of all time’ singularity can’t happen, no way, no how,” Peter Szatmary, executive director of marketing and communications at Lake State, said in a press release. “And instead of being selectively administered, it is easily conferred. Remember Groucho Marx’s line about not wanting to join a club that would accept him as a member?

“The nine additional words and terms banned for 2023 – from the new ‘inflection point’ at #2 and ‘gaslighting’ at #4 to the ‘unbelievable’ repeat offenders at #6 and ‘this is what that it’s” at No. 10 – also fall somewhere on the spectrum between specious and tired. They’re empty as nonsense or watered down by oversaturation. fashion and jargon,” he added.

Here are the 10 who made this year’s list.

Nominators and judges took issue with the phrase, with one disgruntled contributor lamenting that the terminology is “applied to everyone and everything from athletes to chicken wings.”

According to the judges, this is both overused and misused, as “a mathematical term that has entered common parlance and lost its original meaning”.

Quitting smoking quietly – which some say means doing the bare minimum at work – has been circulating a lot in the past year. The term, the judges reflected, is “fashionable but inaccurate.”

In fact, the nominators said the real meaning behind it was simply “normal work performance” and “nothing more than companies complaining that workers refuse to be taken advantage of”.

Merriam-Webster’s 2022 Word of the Year, which the online dictionary defines as “the act or practice of grossly deceiving someone, especially for one’s own benefit”, has become the “preferred word for the perception of deception”.

But, Michigan nominators and judges say the word is both overused and misused, and “disconnects” the term from the sinister physiological manipulation with which it is associated.

Included for misuse, overuse and uselessness.

Already banned for misuse, abuse and uselessness in 2012, the word has appeared in the list again. Some nominators argued that it should be reserved for truly “awesome” people, and others simply felt that it was “an adjective worn down by people short on vocabulary.”

Not only is it misused, overused, and unnecessary, the judges went so far as to say the phrase is “needy, intriguing, and/or cynical.”

“Always make sense; don’t think out loud or play games,” the judges said firmly.

The Lake Superior judges say that’s not even a word — and “it doesn’t matter” works just as well.

First appearing on the list in 1996, the word is apparently often “spoken too loudly by boring people who think they are better than you”, said one observer, and “it seems to be accompanied of a guarantee when it may not be,” cautioned another.

Another repeat offender. First banned in 2008 for abuse, misuse and uselessness, the phrase’s re-entry has drawn angry reactions from nominators.

“Of course it is! What else would it be? It would be weird if it wasn’t what it wasn’t,” one user joked.

Another said the phrase provides an “excuse not to face reality or accept responsibility”.


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