An Amazing Trickeration?: Banished Words For 2012 At Lake Superior State University, college officials have been releasing a list of banished words since 1976. Words that you're not allowed to say this year include "baby bump" and "occupy." It's a list destined to receive some "blowback."

An Amazing Trickeration?: Banished Words For 2012

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It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Rebecca Sheir. On this day in 1976, Michigan's Lake Superior State University released its first "List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness." We wanted to know what words you would nominate to banish in 2012, so we hit the streets of Washington, D.C. to find out.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Ping me. I don't know why they don't say IM or instant message me. It's too long for people to say, so they say ping me.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Literally. And bro just in general.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: I want to see hater, hating, any form of the word hate in that context, I want to see it go.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Tote, short for totally.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #4: Yeah, that. That goes. Everything can't be amazing.

SHEIR: That's the word on the street. But what made the official list? John Shibley of Lake Superior State University helped compile this year's list of banished words.

JOHN SHIBLEY: Amazing, baby bump, shared sacrifice, occupy, blowback, man cave, the new normal, pet parent, win the future, trickeration, ginormous and thank you in advance.

SHEIR: So I was going to thank you in advance for joining us, but I understand that's a phrase I should probably steer clear of this year.


SHIBLEY: In advance, you know, we put these words out. You're free to use them for the rest of your life.

SHEIR: That's great, because I use ginormous all the time, I will confess.

SHIBLEY: So does my wife.


SHIBLEY: So do my students.

SHEIR: Going back to amazing, why were so many people annoyed by that word?

SHIBLEY: This is sort of a tongue-in-cheek endeavor. When people notice they hear it too much on the media or when they're conversing with other people. And people are either really angry at a word or phrase that's overused or just find it's a quirky word it's time to retire.

SHEIR: Can you tell us how this list got started in the first place? I mean, who dreamed this up?

SHIBLEY: The faculty. It was at a New Year's Eve party 1976, and they got talking about, over martinis, words and phrases that are overused. And Bill Rabe, who was the college relations director, made a bet with the faculty that he couldn't go home that night and pull out his Remington typewriter and type up five words and phrases that they talked about that evening.

And mind you, this is New Year's Eve, and it ran on January 1st. Cards and letters start coming in from readers who have seen this story move on UPI, and the next year, he had 20 words that were nominated. 1977, same thing. So he settled into a habit, and it's been going for 37 years.

SHEIR: I'm taking a look at the list right now and I'm seeing shared sacrifice, I'm seeing occupy, I'm seeing win the future. I know the list is just for fun but do you think the list at all reflects the year's, like, social and political themes?

SHIBLEY: Oh, definitely. If you look at the list of all the words Lake State has banished over the years, it's like looking at snapshots of cultural movement back then, times gone by in a linguistics sort of way.

SHEIR: So much fun.

SHIBLEY: So much trickeration.

SHEIR: So much trickeration.


SHIBLEY: I guess that's my favorite on this one this year.

SHEIR: That's John Shibley, who helped compile Lake Superior State University's list of banished words for 2012. John, thanks for being on the show today.

SHIBLEY: Thank you.

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