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10 of the MOST Overused Words of 2022

Do you ever get tired of hearing the same old words and phrases wherever you go? If so, you’re not alone. A group of academics at Lake Superior State University (LSSU) has been releasing a top 10 list of words and phrases they believe should be banished from our collective vocabulary due to overuse or misuse. 

This fun list has been around for decades. According to the official LSSU website, this slightly mischievous tradition started in 1976, and has the aim to “uphold, protect, and support excellence in language by encouraging avoidance of words and terms that are overworked, redundant, oxymoronic, clichéd, illogical, nonsensical—and otherwise ineffective, baffling, or irritating.”

Curious to find out what these baffling and irritating words were in 2022? Read on…

“Wait, what?”

Banished Word List of 2022 “Wait, what?”

- Did you know that there’s enough gold in the Earth's core to coat the entire planet?
- Wait, what?

This phrase is often used in online slang to convey the speaker’s surprise and uncertainty. “Wait, what?” was rated by the LSSU judges as the most overused phrase of the year. They describe it as follows, “the two-part halting interrogative is disingenuous, divergent, and deflective.”

Here are a few more imaginative synonyms for this tragically overused phrase:

  • Are you serious?
  • Now I've seen everything.
  • You gotta be kidding me!
  • Are you for real?
  • No way!
  • You don’t say!
  • Well, what do you know!
  • I don’t believe a word of it.

“At the end of the day”

Banished Word List of 2022 “At the end of the day”

At the end of the day, all that matters is that we’re alive and well.

This is not the first time this phrase appeared among LSSU’s banished words. It also made the list back in 1999. The confusing thing about this phrase is that it sounds like a conclusion, but it doesn’t actually sum up anything. “Many times things don’t end at the end of the day—or even the ramifications of whatever is happening,” the judges note.

We’re not going to give you any synonyms for this phrase. Just drop it whenever you are inclined to use this phrase, and you’ll have a much clearer and well-phrased utterance.

“No worries”

Banished Word List of 2022 “No worries”

- Many thanks for bringing in the groceries for me.
- No worries!

According to the LSSU, saying “no worries” to “thank you” is an improper or even insensitive response. Although most people would actually consider it a rather kind and considerate reply, the judges argue that "If I’m not worried, I don’t want anyone telling me not to worry."

Some alternatives for you to consider:

  • My pleasure!
  • Certainly
  • Sure
  • Don’t mention it!
  • No problem
  • You’re more than welcome!
  • Never mind
  • It’s no trouble!

“You’re on mute”

Banished Word List of 2022 “You’re on mute”

You’re on mute, I can’t hear a thing you’re saying.

As someone who is known to be a tad disorganized when it comes to dealing with technology, I’ve certainly heard the phrase “You’re on mute” a lot during the past few years. 

In many cases, long Zoom calls are a constant game of muting and unmuting. And it can be annoying when you’ve been trying to make a point, only to hear five or more people barraging you with “you’re on mute.” I learned my lesson in two years, and the LSSU says that we all should have, too, at this point. So hopefully, we’ll just hear this ominous phrase less and less every year.

Related article: 
Interview Tips and Credibility-Denting Words


“Circle back”

Banished Word List of 2022 “Circle back”

This is a common question. Let’s circle back to it at the end of our talk.

“Circle back” is a common phrase that came from corporate slang. It essentially means, “I prefer to discuss this later.” The LSSU states that the phrase goes against the spirit of progression in conversation. The phrase “treats colloquy like an ice-skating rink, as if we must circle back to our previous location to return to a prior subject.”

Conversations are meant to move forward, so why not try and address each question and issue as they come up whenever you can?

“That being said”

Banished Word List of 2022 “That being said”

Chocolate ice cream is delicious. That being said, I prefer vanilla.

“That being said,” is a phrase known as a verbal filler. Although it can be quite useful as a transition from one argument to another in written texts, it can become redundant in spoken language.

Just skip it, and you’ll get to the point much faster. Alternatively, you can replace it with a much briefer expression, like “however,” “but,” “yet,” or “even so.”

“Asking for a friend”

Banished Word List of 2022 “Asking for a friend”

Can you recommend a good restaurant? Asking for a friend.

“Asking for a friend” is a cheeky way to ask for something with the aim of avoiding embarrassment and self-identification. The “friend,” of course, doesn’t exist, and the utterer is just avoiding all responsibility of asking. Though it can be funny when used as a joke, it often sounds clichéd even in that role. Just skip this one.

“Deep dive”

Banished Word List of 2022 “Deep dive”

Let's do a deep dive into this subject.

“Deep dive” is another corporate jargon term that has become painfully overused online and in real life. Instead of a deep dive, it’s more direct and franker to say what you mean, which is “Let’s examine this subject in detail,” or “Let’s get an in-depth look at this topic.”

“Supply chain”

Banished Word List of 2022 “Supply chain”

This item is not in stock due to supply chain issues.

If the example sentence above didn’t trigger an eye roll, you must be a very lucky person! I, for one, keep encountering these widespread and almost mythical issues everywhere I shop. In essence, these so-called “supply chain issues” became a scapegoat for businesses of all consumer goods to delay shipping, avoid restocking items, and raise shipping costs and in-store prices worldwide.

This is one word we really wish was banished this year!

“New normal”

Banished Word List of 2022 “New normal”

Supply chain issues have become the new normal.

The last mention on the LSSU list is also caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. For more terms created during the COVID-19 pandemic, click here - 10 New Words That Emerged During the Covid-19 Pandemic.

At the beginning of 2020, we used it to describe the reality of mass quarantines, lockdowns, and travel amid the pandemic. However, the term “new normal” has evolved over the years, and it’s now become a catchall for being reluctant about adjusting to the times and circumstances. Annoying, we know!

H/T: RD.comEllaslist.com.au

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