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"Fiscal Cliff" & "Job Creators" top annual banned words list

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste Marie is out with its annual year-end list of words and phrases that should be banned for overuse.

As you may expect, words and phrases popular with politicians top this year’s banned list, with one getting a lot of use right now leading them all:  Fiscal Cliff. 

Banned Words list co-creator John Shibley says the phrase used to describe the combination of looming federal tax increases and spending cuts was overused by the news media.

“It deals with an issue that a lot of people have trouble getting their minds around…with a little bit of frustration on that,” says Shibley.

“Bucket List”…”Job Creators” and “Trending” also earned their way on the Banned Words list this year.

During the last 38 years, Lake Superior State University has put nearly a thousand words and phrases to its ‘Banned’ list.

Here’s a list of the 2012 inductees to the Banned Words list, along with comments from some of people who nominated them:


"You can't turn on the news without hearing this. I'm equally worried about the River of

Debt and Mountain of Despair." -- Christopher Loiselle, Midland, Mich.

"(We’ve) lost sight of the metaphor and started to think it's a real place, like with the

headline, 'Obama, Boehner meeting on fiscal cliff'." -- Barry Cochran, Portland, Ore.

"Tends to be used however the speaker wishes to use it, as in falling off the fiscal cliff,

climbing the fiscal cliff, challenged by the fiscal cliff, etc. Just once, I would like to hear

it referred to as a financial crisis." -- Barbara CLIFF, Johnstown, Penn.

"Continually referred to as 'the so-called fiscal cliff,' followed by a definition. How many

times do we need to hear 'fiscal cliff,' let alone its definition? Please let this phrase fall

off of a real cliff!" -- Randal Baker, Seabeck, Wash.

"Fiscal cliff, fiscal update, fiscal austerity...whatever happened to 'economic' updates?

Fiscal has to go." -- Dawn Farrell-Taylor, Ont.

"Makes me want to throw someone over a real cliff," -- Donna, Johnstown, NY

"If only those who utter these words would take a giant leap off of it." -- Joann

Eschenburg, Clinton Twp., Mich.


"Usually used in politics, this typically means that someone or some group is neglecting

its responsibilities. This was seized upon during the current administration and is used

as a cliché by all parties...Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Libertarians, Tories,

Whigs, Socialists, Communists, Fashionistas…" -- Mike Cloran, Cincinnati, Ohio

"I'm surprised it wasn't on your 2012 list -- were you just kicking the, um, phrase down

the road to 2013?" – T. Jones, Ann Arbor, Mich.

"I thought that perhaps you weren't ready to deal with it. You just kicked that can down

the road." -- Rebecca Martz, Houston, Tex.

"I would definitely like to kick some cans of the human variety every time I hear

politicians use this phrase to describe a circumstance that hasn't gone their way." --

Christine Tomassini, Livonia, Mich.

"Much the same as 'put on the back burner,' these two phrases still have heat and are still

in the road. Kick this latest phrase down the road." -- Michael F. Raczko, Swanton, Ohio

"I can't turn on the TV any more without being informed that can-kicking has occurred.

What's wrong with the word 'postpone'?" – Kathryn, West Chester, Ohio


"This blackjack term is now used as a verb in place of 'repeat' or 'reaffirm' or 'reiterate.'

Yet, it adds nothing. It's not even colorful. Hit me!" -- Allan Ryan, Boston, Mass.

"The next time I see or hear the phrase, I am going to double over.” -- Tony Reed,

Holland, Mich.

"Over-used within the last year or so in politics." -- John Gates, Cumberland, Maine

"Better nip this in the bud – it's already morphed into 'quadruple down.'" -- Marc Ponto,

Milwaukee, Wisc.


"It implies supernatural powers -- such as the ability to change the weather or levitate.

Most new jobs pay less than the lost jobs to ensure stratospheric CEO compensation

and nice returns on investments. I respectfully propose a replacement term that is more

accurate -- job depleters." -- Mark Dobias, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

"One of the most overplayed buzz terms of the 2012 presidential campaign.

Apparently 'lowering unemployment' doesn’t have the same impact." -- Dennis Ittner,

Torrance, Calif.

Since jobs are only created by demand, consumers are the real job creators. -- Scott

Biggerstaff, Redlands, Calif.

"It's been over-used and pigeon-holed into political arguments left, right, and center to the

point that I don't believe it has any real meaning." -- Adam Myers, Cumming, Ga.

"To belong to this tax-proof club, you don't have to create a single job. All you need to do

is be rich. In fact, many people who call themselves 'job creators' make their money by

laying off people." -- S. Lieberman, Seattle, Wash.

"Uttered by every politician who wants to give big tax breaks to rich people and rich

businesses…" -- Jack Kolars, North Mankato, Minn.

"If these guys are capitalists, as claimed, they are focused on reducing expenses and

maximizing profit. Jobs are a large part of expenses. So, if anything at all, they minimize

employment to maximize profits. Up is down, black is white. Job creators are really

employment minimizers." -- Bob Fandrich, Fredericksburg, Va.


"Diabetes is not just Big Pharma's business, it's their passion! This or that actor is

passionate! about some issue somewhere. A DC lobbyist is passionate! about passing (or

blocking) some proposed law. My passion! is simple: Banish this phony-baloney word." -

- George Alexander, Studio City, Calif.

"As in 'that's my passion.' Please, let's hope you mean 'enthusiasm.' 'Passion'

connotes 'unbridled,' unmediated by reason and sound judgment. Passion is the stuff of

Ahab, Hitler, and chauvinists of every stripe, and terrorists." -- Michael T. Smith, Salem,


"Seared tuna will taste like dust swept from a station platform - until it's cooked

passionately. Apparently, it's insufficient to do it ably, with skill, commitment or finesse.

Passionate, begone!" -- Andrew Foyle, Bristol, UK

"My passion is (insert favorite snack food here). I'm passionate about how much I hate

the words 'passion' and 'passionate.' Don't wait for next year's list! -- David Greaney,

Bedford, NH


"Stands for 'You Only Live Once' and used by wannabe Twitter philosophers who think

they've uncovered a deep secret of life. Also used as an excuse to do really stupid things,

such as streaking at a baseball game with YOLO printed on one's chest. I only live once,

so I'd prefer to be able to do it without ever seeing YOLO again." -- Brendan Cotter,

Grosse Pte. Park, Mich.

"Used by teens everywhere to describe an action that is risky or unconventional, yet

acceptable because 'you only live once.' Who lives more than once?" -- P.P., Los

Angeles, Calif.

"Just gives people, especially teens, a reason to do stupid things. I find it annoying and

I'm pretty sure I'm not alone here." – Daniel, Hickory,


"Only a real yoyo would use the term 'yolo.'" -- Sandra McGlew, White Lake, Mich.


"What was once a polite warning has turned into a declarative statement: I have just

spoiled something for you. When news outlets print articles with headlines such as, 'Huge

upset in men's Olympic swimming,' with a diminutive 'spoiler alert' on the link to the rest

of the article, I think it's safe to say we've forgotten the meaning of the word 'alert.'" –

Afton, Portland, Ore.

"Used as an obnoxious way to show one has trivial information and is about to use it, no

matter what." -- Joseph Joly, Fremont, Calif.


"The expression makes me cringe every time I hear it -- and we've been hearing it for

several years. I'm surprised it isn't already in your master list. Let's emphasize life and

what we do during it. It's such a grim way of looking at 'what I want to do,' and often it is

in selfish terms." -- Shea Hoffmitz, Hamilton, Ont.

"Getting this phrase on the Banished Word List is on my bucket list!" – Frederick Fish,



"A trend is something temporary, thank goodness; however, it is not a verb, and I'm tired

of news stations telling me what trite 'news' is 'trending.'" -- Kyle Melton, White Lake,


"I'm sick of chirpy entertainment commentators constantly informing us of what 'is

trending right now.' I used to like a good trend until this." – Nancy, Victoria, BC.

"Trending leaves me wondering 'in what direction?' It seems to mean 'increasing in

attention received' or 'frequency in which it is referenced.'" -- John Hannon, Springfield,



"It's food. It's either healthful or it's not. There is no 'super' involved. -- Jason Hansen,

Frederic, Mich.


"Can we just call them chicken (pieces)?" -- John McNamara, Lansing, Mich.


"Unless you're teaching transcendental meditation, Hinduism or Buddhism, please don't

call yourself a guru just because you think you're an expert at something. It's silly and

pretentious. Let other people call you that, if they must." -- Mitch Devine, Rancho Santa

Margarita, Calif.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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