Spoiler alert: Word enthusiasts want to ban 'fiscal cliff'

Tue Jan 1, 2013 11:24am IST

A generic picture of a diary. REUTERS/Catherine Benson

A generic picture of a diary.

Credit: Reuters/Catherine Benson

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REUTERS - Whether or not the U.S. Congress acts to avoid the "fiscal cliff," the much-used phrase tops the list of words language aficionados want banned from everyday speech, according to a Michigan university's yearly roundup released on Monday.

Also making the cut for Lake Superior State University's annual list of overused, misused and generally useless terms were "kick the can down the road," "bucket list" and, it may come as no surprise, "spoiler alert."

Then there is "YOLO."

"Stands for 'You Only Live Once' and used by wannabe Twitter philosophers who think they've uncovered a deep secret of life," said Brendan Cotter, of Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, in nominating the phrase for retirement.

"I only live once, so I'd prefer to be able to do it without ever seeing YOLO again," Cotter said.

The small, public university has published its annual "List of Words to be Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness" since New Year's Day in 1976. It is culled mostly from nominations by English-language enthusiasts through the school's website.

But don't call them "gurus" - the term is among the dozen words and phrases on this year's list they want eliminated from the news, advertising, politics and general usage.

Fiscal cliff - a short-hand reference to the mix of $600 billion in tax increases and federal government spending cuts due to begin taking effect in January - received the most nominations in 2012, the school said.

"You can't turn on the news without hearing this," said Christopher Loiselle of Midland, Michigan, in his submission. "I'm equally worried about the River of Debt and Mountain of Despair."

"If only those who utter these words would take a giant leap off of it," said Joann Eschenburg of Clinton Township, Michigan.

Others were passionate in their disgust for the excessive use of the word "passion." References by news and entertainment commentators about what topics were "trending" and incessant talk of "job creation" by presidential candidates also ranked highly for causing annoyance.

Additional terms on the list included "double down" - when used as a verb instead of "reaffirm" - plus "superfood" and "boneless wings."

"Can we just call them chicken (pieces)?" said John McNamara of Lansing.

(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Dale Hudson)

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