Slaying the Cringe-Worthy: Banished Words List 2024

The 2024 Banished Words List from Lake Superior State University is out in an attempt to draw attention to certain words that are often misused, overused, or have lost their meaning over the past year. 

The list is a tradition the university in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, began in 1976, and is picked up by media outlets across the country. LSSU received over 2,000 nominations from around the world, with the majority coming from the United States.

According to the university's release, the list "encourages us to laugh at ourselves as we reconsider and reflect on the importance of our vocabulary."

1) Hack — The term “hack” has increasingly become a popular buzzword, frequently utilized to impart an aura of innovation or sophistication to various subjects. Its widespread adoption in multiple contexts, extending beyond its initial technological context, has the potential to lessen its inherent significance. Using it everywhere, even beyond its tech roots, could make it lose its magic.

2) Impact — Especially as a verb, why use this word when we have a perfectly good word that makes more sense: “affect”? Overusing it not only takes away its pizzazz but also robs other words of their spotlight.

3) At the end of the day — Sometimes a word needs to be re-banished, and this is one of them. Many comments note that it is overused and meaningless, often employed as a rhetorical device that attempts to encapsulate the complexities of a situation summarily, lacking nuance and depth.

4) Rizz — Rizz, derived as a shortened form for “charisma,” gained prominence as Oxford’s word of the year and has become a familiar presence in the realm of social media discourse. The ubiquity of this term prompts contemplation on whether it retains its relevance. With language doing the cha-cha of change, we’re wondering if this word still rocks the charisma scene or if it’s time for a language remix.

5) Slay — While perfectly acceptable in specific contexts, “slay” has transcended its original meaning and infiltrated situations where its usage no longer aligns with its intended significance. Its transition from a specialized term denoting exceptional accomplishment to a commonplace expression for any achievement prompts scrutiny into its misapplication, particularly in the characterization of routine or mundane actions. Now, it’s sprinkled everywhere—from wearing a stylish outfit to tackling the art of parallel parking.

6) Iconic — This one appeared on the list in 2009, so perhaps it’s time for another attempt to point out its overuse and lack of meaning in most situations. Despite its initial recognition as a word worthy of distinction, its repeated application in contexts that don’t merit such acclaim challenges its genuine iconic status. It’s like that one-hit wonder playing on loop.

7) Cringe-worthy — From the comments: “The use of this term is cringe-worthy.” The irony is served hot, as the very term “cringe-worthy” finds itself under the spotlight. It’s like a word caught in its own cringe-worthy moment. Now, as we usher in the new year, it’s time to decide if this linguistic drama deserves an encore or if we should bid “cringe-worthy” adieu to make room for fresh, less cringe-inducing expressions in 2024.

8) Obsessed — The use of this word for things that are not truly being obsessed over makes it a good candidate for rethinking how we use the word. The casual use of “obsessed” to describe routine interests or preferences underscores a potential misappropriation of the term, prompting a reconsideration of its application. Should one be obsessed with a new kitchen gadget or a new shade of paint? This year’s contributors think not.

9) Side hustle — The term “side hustle” has gained widespread use, prompting considerations about its impact on how we perceive economic challenges. It may be worth reflecting on whether its prevalence inadvertently downplays the genuine reality of the situation. While ‘side-hustle’ adds flair to our language, our contributors feel that the only hustle is the one needed to get to their second job.

10) Wait for it — If we’re watching the video, then we’re already waiting for it, right? While “wait for it” is trying to be the hype master, let’s question if it’s adding extra sparkle or just stating the obvious?

I’m sure they missed a few, can you add to the list?

For more about LSSU’s Banished Words List and to nominate a word or term for banishment for 2025, visit https://www.lssu.edu/traditions/banishedwords/.

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