Earlier, I did a list of new words that have gained popularity, if not legitimacy, for this year. Being a big believer in balance, I’d like to retire some words that are tired, overused, have had their meaning mangled and otherwise are just. . . .so over.
1. Get Over, or be over. “Get over it” is an unnatural state. You will not ‘get over’ a divorce, death in the family, awful financial decision or job loss. Instead, they become part of who you are today. The last person to successfully ‘get over’ something was Scarlet O’Hara getting over the Civil War. She looked at her plundered Tara, starvation, ruined marriage, destroyed relationship and said, “Tomorrow is another day.” La-dee-da-dee-da. That last one was Annie Hall. She never got over anything, but in a charming way. Her baggage was really matched luggage and she accumulated coordinating pieces.
2. Whimsical. This word is not only overly mangled, it’s mistakenly used to mean “I like it, but I don’t know why.” Whimsical means lightly fanciful, or, when used to define a person, eccentric or erratic. I don’t know how it came to describe most artwork, paint colors, fashion clothing, earrings, furniture, potted plants, and rugs, but I find it almost a dozen times a day in catalogs, magazines and newspapers. Enough already.
3. Paradigm shift. Damn, I thought this went away in 1996, but it’s back. Much like bell-bottom pants and white belts, it wasn’t that great the first time around. The second time around, shame on you. It’s a business buzz-word and it’s original meaning has been morphed to mean “what we were doing didn’t work, so we are calling change by another words so as not to panic people.”
4. C-level executives. At first I thought this meant George Bush, who is quite proud of his low C-average at Yale, or that Kathy Griffin had finally gotten off her self-appointed D-List. But I was wrong. Consultants use this to describe their aspirations, as in, “The target audience for my Success Workshop is C-level executives.” It sounds filled with self-importance and a distinct lack of interest in the people who actually do the heavy-lifting in a corporation. And I guess it sounds nicer than saying, “I charge a ton of money for my services.”
5. Verbiage. Incidentally, it’s not pronounced ver-bage to rhyme with garbage. But that meaning is closer. Merriam Webster defines it as “a profusion of words usually of little or obscure content.” It now means any copy that needs to be written. If you are going to over-use it, at least over use it with the right meaning.
6. Begging the question. another phrase that people use to mean something it does not. “Begging the question” is not at all the same as “raising the question.” Begging the question is a logic mistake in which the second half of a statement treats the first part as absolutely true, although there is nothing to support the truth of the first part of the statement. An example: “My GPS system doesn’t work because all the streets around here all have numbers.”
7. Epic-. Used as a hyphenated word. Generally followed by “fail” to mean a fall from grace, a pratfall, or plans not working out. But it has also come to mean something that works out to an opposite, as in, “That drama was so epic fail that it was a comedy.” “Epic-” has replaced “big” or “enormous.” Let’s find something else.
–Quinn McDonald is a writer and life coach. She helps people negotiate change in their life. See her work at QuinnCreative.com