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Guess What Word No One Wants to Hear Ever Again

Michigan college puts 'COVID-19' at top of its annual list of words, terms that should be banished
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 31, 2020 11:28 AM CST
Guess What Word No One Wants to Hear Ever Again
Can't say we disagree with this year's choices.   (Getty Images/flavijus)

Even as vaccines are being rolled out to battle COVID-19, wordsmiths at Lake Superior State University in Michigan say they want to kick any trace of the term from the English language. Seven of the top words or phrases selected for 2021 for the school's annual lighthearted compilation of banned words and phrases are connected to the virus, with "COVID-19" leading the way. "Unprecedented," which was banished back in 2002, has been restored to the list, per the AP. "Coronavirus" and "social distancing" are thrown in, along with "we're all in this together," "in an abundance of caution," and "in these uncertain times." Out of more than 1,450 nominations sent to the school, about 250 words and terms suggested for banishment due to overuse, misuse, or uselessness had something to do with the virus.

"To be sure, COVID-19 is unprecedented in wreaking havoc and destroying lives," the Banished Words List committee members said Thursday in a release. "But so is the overreliance on 'unprecedented' to frame things, so it has to go, too." The school in Sault Ste. Marie has compiled the list each year since 1976 to "uphold, protect, and support excellence in language by encouraging avoidance of words and terms that are overworked, redundant, oxymoronic, cliched, illogical, nonsensical—and otherwise ineffective, baffling, or irritating." The non-virus-related words and phrases that made the top cut include "pivot," "Karen," "sus" (short for "suspicious"), and "I know, right?" "In a small way, maybe this list will help 'flatten the curve,' which also was under consideration for banishment," LSSU President Rodney Hanley says in a release. "We trust that your 'new normal'—another contender among nominations—for next year won't have to include that anymore."

(More words stories.)

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