Corporate Eye

2012 List of Banished Words

The 2012 List of Banished Words from Lake Superior State University is out and includes 11 words that people don’t want to see or hear anymore. Pay attention — these are words you should probably leave out of your marketing messages unless you want to annoy your audience.

The list of banished words has been compiled each year since 1076 using an international interview, nomination, and voting process. It includes words and phrases that people believe are overused, misused, or useless. These are the words and phrases that people actually want removed from the English language never to be used again. You can follow the link to check out the 2011 List of Banished Words.

The 2012 List of Banished Words includes a variety of words and phrases associated with politics, business, and everyday living. The 11 words and phrases on the 2012 list (in order from the word that got the most votes to the word that got the least votes) include:

1. Amazing: The overuse of “amazing” has rendered it useless to people around the world.

2. Baby Bump: This phrase made the list because people are “tired of a pregnancy being reduced to a celebrity accessory” which “makes pregnancy sound like some fun and in-style thing to do, not a serious choice.”

3. Shared Sacrifice: Scott Urbanowski of Kentwood, Michigan summed this phrase up succinctly when he said the term is “usually used by a politician who wants other people to share in the sacrifice so he/she doesn’t have to.”

4. Occupy: A word originally associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement has become the nom du jour for any event, movement, or idea that comes along.

5. Blowback: This word has become a popular buzzword used instead of “pushback” to refer to a negative reaction. The reaction from people who voted this word to the #5 position in the 2012 List of Banished Words was simple — use “reaction” instead.

6. Man Cave: An overused phrase used when referring to a room in one’s home dedicated to all things male. To voters for the 2012 List of Banished Words, “man cave” is believed to be overused and offensive.

7. The New Normal: In the words of Robert Brown of Raleigh, North Carolina, “The phrase is often used to justify bad trends in society and to convince people that they are powerless to slow or to reverse those trends. This serves to reduce participation in the political process and to foster cynicism about the ability of government to improve people’s lives.”

8. Pet Parent: A trendy term used in reference to pet owners when “pet owners” would suffice.

9. Win the Future: This political phrase is overused and no longer holds any value or meaning to voters.

10. Trickeration: This word was made up by football analysts to describe a trick play. Gene Bering of Seminole, Texas asks, “What’s wrong with ‘trick’ or ‘trickery’?”

11. Ginormous: The fusion of ‘giant’ and ‘enormous’ is overused and meaningless. This is another made up word that voters never want to hear again.

What do you think of the 2012 List of Banished Words? Will you remove any words and phrases from your marketing messages based on this list of words people never want to hear again? Leave a comment and share your thoughts as well as the word or phrase you’d most like to see removed from the English language. Here’s mine: “ideation session.”

Image: Lee Haywood

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

One word that seems to have been banished, but I’d like to see brought back, is ‘problem.’ No one has problems any more – they have ‘issues.’ But according to the Oxford Concise dictionary, issue is ‘a point in question; an important subject of debate or litigation.’

If something is a problem – say it like it is. Let’s not hide behind the fig leaf of issues.

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