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These thankfully banned words are a real perfidy

Has “twerking” got your goat? “Selfie” make steam come out of your ears?

Well, those are just two of the “banned” words in the annual list by Lake Superior State University this year, and join suffixes such as “-ageddon” and “-pocalypse,” as in, “snowmageddon” … you get the idea.

One suffix brought to my attention was “-shaming,” as in the growing use of the word fatshaming, used in reference to obese people.

It was a new one on me and I already dislike it — immensely.

Surprisingly, Oxford University Press, publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary, chose “selfie” as 2013’s word of the year.

No accounting for taste, I suppose. Or maybe they were “selfieshaming.” Sorry.

I must say there are a few words that frost my fenders, including “currently” and “basically.”

If you say they are currently looking at the budget, you don’t mean they are yesterday or next week looking at the budget. They are looking at the budget — period.

How about this: “They are currently looking at the budget and basically doing nothing.”


They are looking at the budget and doing nothing. Am I wrong?

I’ve always disliked, “As a matter of fact,” because it usually is followed by opinion or conjecture and has little to do with fact. As a matter of fact, I think …

Another that has crept into the vocabulary is “well,” and it’s usually a stall word during discussions or speeches. Same goes for “so,” which seems to be creeping into our vocabulary at every turn: “So, like, they woke up, so you see, they are basically currently working, so …”

Enough said.

Some of the other words on the list are “hashtag,” “twittersphere,” “Mr. Mom,” “T-bone” (as in a type of crash), anything “on steroids,” and, of course, “Obamacare.”

Lake State has all of its banned words archived online all the way back to 1976 when it all started. You’ll find old favorites such as “input,” replacing “contribution”; “unique” (1978), as in, “very unique,” “most unique” and even “uniquely unique”; or “da bomb” (1998), which was supposed to mean, “the greatest.”

And now the twist.

Wayne State University has come out with its own top 10 list. But this list, the school’s sixth annual, is the 10 words that the WSU Word Warriors would like to see resurrected, not banned.

Will we ever see any of these in common usage? Not likely, but it is fun to see what words submitters and the WSU editorial board consider worthy of bringing back.

Without further ado:

Arcadian — Pastoral, rural, in a peaceful natural setting.

When Leeman retired, he left the city and built a tiny house in a quiet, arcadian corner of the Berkshires.

Eldritch — Eerie, spooky, uncomfortably weird.

The feeble light of the waning moon, the crumbling stones, the dark shadows of skeletal trees and the mournful cries of owls gave the old cemetery such an eldritch aspect that we got out of there as fast as we could.

Fug — A heavy, stale, suffocating atmosphere; warm, unpleasantly thick, humid air.

Saying goodbye to the cats, Roger stepped out of his cool house into the fug of August in southern Louisiana.

Humdinger — A remarkable or extraordinary person, place, action or thing.

I’ve been in big storms before, but that Sandy was a real humdinger.

Lubricious — Arousing sexual desire; lecherous; lascivious.

Brad swears that Katie gave him a radiantly lubricious wink, but I think she just had something in her eye.

Martinet — A strict disciplinarian; someone who insists on absolute adherence to rules. From the 17th-century French army officer Jean Martinet.

As a manager Geoffrey was such a martinet that staff meetings were mostly just his ranting about our imaginary foibles.

Mephitic — Pestilential, poisonous, foul-smelling, putrid, offensive.

After grading his class’s term papers, Edmund felt that he had confronted and overcome something so vile and mephitic that only bourbon could reward the achievement and erase the memory.

Perfidy — Treachery; a deliberate breach of trust or faith.

Being dumped by Alice was bad enough, but what really galled Roger was the perfidy of his so-called friends, who knew of her dalliances and never said a word to him.

Pestiferous — Troublesome, bothersome, irritating, annoying.

I’ve made my living primarily as a science journalist, learning what evolutionary biology and ecology I know by self-education and pestiferous questioning of experts.

Weltschmerz — The melancholy feeling when you realize that life and the world will never be what you’d like it to be. Once described as the inherent sadness of mortality.

Brian’s long bouts of weltschmerz made him think he was a romantic poet, but most people just thought he was depressed.

OK, so humdinger probably shouldn’t be resurrected.

But WSU had better be careful about what it wishes for. I for one don’t want to see a humdingerpocalypse.

Gary Gosselin is editor of Michigan Lawyers Weekly

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