Words to Banish, Gaffes to Forget

The most overused and useless phrase from 2012 has to be fiscal cliff, which hung around until New Year's Day.Sometimes you don't need sophisticated polling to know when a word or phrase has run its course, when its mere utterance is greeted by rolling eyes and disgusted looks.

Lake Superior State University issued its 38th "List of Words to be Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness." Topping the list is the phrase "fiscal cliff," which rained down on news shows and commentaries for months.

NPR's Mark Memmott noted other fellow travelers with fiscal cliff, including "kick the can down the road," "double down" and "job creators."

Other candidates for banishment are "bucket list," "trending," "superfood" and "boneless wings."

These fingernail-on-chalk words join a long list of verbal celebrities such as the 1994 winner — "paradigm" and the 2010 list-topper – "bromance."

"Viral" was 2011's most overused word, as "awesome" was in 2007 and "been there, done that" in 1996. 

Once upon a time, time-related words and phrases made the list — "at this point in time" in 1976, "have a nice day" in 1980 and "quality time" in 1985. 

The 2008 winner — "perfect storm" — could have been resurrected in 2012, but Hurricane Sandy went instead by "superstorm" and "frankenstorm." Neither of those phrases made the most reviled list, but they could in a future year if severe storms continue to savage the coastline.

Last year also had its share of haunting words, often words caught on tape or smartphones, such as failed GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's comment about the "47 percent" or Vice President Joe Biden's unforgettable remark about knowing eight Presidents, "three of them intimately."

You can hope for fewer gaffes or overused words in 2013, but don't hold your breath.