List of banned words for 2023 includes GOAT, gaslighting, amazing: NPR

There is no debating this goat.

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Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

There is no debating this goat.

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

When was the last time you called someone a GOAT? Or declared an “inflection point”, or answered a yes or no question with “absolutely”?

Probably too recently, according to faculty at Lake Superior State University, the University of Michigan, which publishes an annual list of words they believe deserve to be “banned” from our vocabularies for “misuse, overuse, and uselessness. “.

“Our nominators insisted, and our Arts and Humanities judges agreed, that enacting the 2023 Banned Words List as GOAT is tantamount to gaslighting. Does that make sense?” said Rodney S. Hanley, the university’s president, in a very serious statement announcing the new slate.

“Anyway, moving forward is what it is: an absolutely incredible inflection point of uselessness and ineptitude that passes so many mouths and fingers,” Hanley added. .

Of more than 1,500 nominations – from people across the United States and as far away as New Zealand and Namibia – judges said this year’s top offender was “GOAT”, an acronym for “the most great of all time”.

Nominators and faculty have found the term objectionable because of both its impossibility – how can one declare just one all-time best when another might come in the future – and the liberal way in which the title is dispensed with nowadays.

“The ‘greatest of all time’ singularity can’t happen, no way, no how. And instead of being selectively administered, it’s easily conferred,” said Peter Szatmary, spokesperson for Lake State.

(In the spirit of full disclosure, a review of NPR’s transcripts revealed at least 17 candidates for the “greatest of all time” on our airwaves in 2022 alone, including soccer players Pelé, Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona, distance runner Eliud Kipchoge, United States Olympian Allyson Felix, women’s tennis star Serena Williams alongside a trio of fellow male players Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, quarterback Tom Brady, hockey player Wayne Gretzky, NBA stars Michael Jordan, Lebron James and Bill Russell, surfer Kelly Slater, video game Elden Ring and a Pakistani goat with very long ears.)

Lake State faculty judges would probably say there were too many people (and non-people) described as “the greatest of all time.” “Words and terms matter. Or at least they should,” Szatmary said.

Joining “GOAT” in the banishment are nine other words and phrases that nominators and judges complained were used so often that they became disconnected from their literal meaning – like “incredible,” which nominators feared. to no longer mean “dazzling” or “impressive”. .”

“Not everything is amazing, and when you think about it, very little is,” noted one proposer.

In a more serious example, some feared that overuse of the term “gaslighting” would undermine the word’s ability to describe a specific type of dangerous psychological manipulation. (Searches for the word’s definition increased more than 1,700% in 2022, Merriam-Webster said when she announced “gaslighting” as the 2022 word of the year.)

Here is the full list of words banned from school for this year:

  1. GOAT
  2. Inflection point
  3. Quiet stop
  4. Gas lighting
  5. Move up
  6. Unbelievable
  7. Does that make sense?
  8. Regardless
  9. Absolutely
  10. It’s like that

Hundreds of words and phrases have been “banned” by LSSU since 1976. Over the years, LSSU has received tens of thousands of nominations for its annual list.

Frequently targeted are topical phrases like “in these uncertain times” (as so many COVID-related posts began in 2020), “information highway” (banned in 1995) and “filmed in front of a studio audience” (like a vice he was banned twice, first in 1987 and again in 1990).

Joining them are common language bugs – frequently misused words like “impact”, redundancies like “exactly the same” and “completely empty”, or overly wordy sentences like “at this exact moment”. (“Why not say ‘now’ or ‘today’?” asked a 1976 nominator.)

Others have been words and phrases that are genuinely offensive. For 1982, a mother urged the banishment of the word “retarded”, writing that her mentally handicapped daughter would, “with proper stimulation … be able to learn and understand much more than we believe possible”.


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