SAULT STE. MARIE, MI — Let’s all collude to never use the word “collusion” again. That’s according to the wordsmiths at Lake Superior State University, which on New Year’s Eve released its 44th annual “List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.”

Robert Mueller, the special counsel overseeing the investigation into possible collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election, helped popularize the word, among 18 included on the university’s list for 2019. President Trump has insisted, with nearly every finding by the Mueller team, “there is no collusion.”

“We all need to collude on getting rid of this word,” said the Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, man who nominated it.

The first list of banishment-worthy words was compiled in 1975 by the late W.T. Rabe, a public relations director at the university, and his staff at a New Year’s Eve party. It was so popular among language purists that the university has kept it going. Released every New Year’s Eve since 1977, the list has been comprised solely of cringe-worthy nominations from around the world.

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Collusion was one of several with a political theme, including “the most important election of our time,” which was repeatedly used to describe the 2018 midterm election, which saw Democrats regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Not that we haven’t had six or seven back-to-back most important elections of our time,” noted an Ozark, Arkansas, man.

Those “OTUS” acronyms — POTUS, FLOTUS, SCOTUS, for the president of the United States, the first lady of the United States and the Supreme Court of the United States, respectively — also got the nod.

Several people nominated “wheelhouse,” a word used to describe an area of expertise that actually refers to the part of a boat or ship that shelters the person at the wheel or, alternately in baseball, the part of a batter’s strike zone most likely to produce a home run.

“Irritating, has become a cliché, annoys me, offence to the English language, etc.,” noted a resident of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. “It’s not in my wheelhouse to explain why dreadful words should be banished!” noted a Battle Creek, Michigan, resident, and a Portland, Oregon, man proclaimed it “an awkward word to use in the 21st century,” reasoning that “most people have never seen a wheelhouse.”

A couple of people said “thought leader” should forever be banished. A Superior, Colorado, man points out that “thoughts aren’t ranked or scored” an wonders “how can someone hold a thought-lead, much less even lead by thought?” And another from Ann Arbor, Michigan, observed, “If you follow a thought leader, you’re not much of a thinker.”

Here are the other words and phrases included on the 2019 list of words that should be banished:

“In the books,” to describe something that is finished or concluded: “It seems everyone’s holiday party is in the books this year, and it’s all there for friends to view on social media, along with the photos of the happy party attendees,” noted a White Lake Township, Michigan, resident.

“Platform”: The Alameda, California, man who nominated the word said the word is used as “an excuse to rant” and that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have become platforms, and athletes even call post-game interviews platforms. “Step down from the platform, already,” the man said.
Platform – Michael, Alameda, Calif., “People use it as an excuse to rant. Facebook, Instagram,

“Ghosting”: As the Caledonia, Michigan, woman who nominated it noted,”Somebody doesn’t want to talk with you. Get over it. No need to bring the paranormal into the equation.”

“Yeet,” a word that means to vigorously throw or toss: “If I hear one more freshman say ‘yeet,’ I might just yeet myself out a window,” said the Sault Ste. Marie woman who nominated it.

“Litigate”: The word originally meant to make a claim or dispute a law in court has been “appropriated by politicians and journalists for any matter of controversy in the public sphere,” said the Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, man who nominated it.

“Grapple”: The Traverse City, Michigan, man who nominated the word noted that “‘eople who struggle with ideas and issues now grapple with them,” but said he prefers “to grapple with a wrestler or an overgrown tree. “

“Eschew”: The Toronto, Ontario, Canada, woman who nominated the word said, “Nobody ever actually says this word out loud, they just write it for filler.”

“Crusty”: A Campbellsville, Kentucky, woman noted the popular insult is “disgusting and sounds weird,” and pleaded “make the madness stop.”

“Optics”: The word is just “a trendy way to say ‘appearance,’ ” said aTempe, Arizona, man.

“Legally drunk”: The Auburn, Indiana, man who nominated the term points out this important distinction: “You’re a little tipsy, that’s all. That’s legally drunk. People who are ticketed for drunk driving are actually ‘illegally drunk,’ and we should say so.”

“Importantly”: A Pace, Texas, woman said the “ly” is “totally unnecessary when ‘important’ is sufficient” and noted that “more importantly,” which was included on LSSU’s 1992 list, “apparently sounds more important but is also senseless.”

“Accoutrements”: A resident of Scottsdale, Arizona, noted the word is “Hard to spell, not specific, and anachronistic when ‘accessories’ will do.”

Over the years, LSSU has received tens of thousands of nominations for the list, which now includes more than 1,000 entries. This year’s list is culled from nominations that come mostly through a university website and a word banishment page on Facebook. Word-watchers target pet peeves from everyday speech, as well as from the news, fields of education, technology, advertising, politics and more. An editor makes a final cut in late December.

For the complete list, go here.


Image: President Donald Trump has repeatedly insisted there was no collusion between his presidential campaign and Russia. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

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