Lake Superior University has issued its list of words and phrases authors should avoid in 2015 because they became overused clichés in 2014. Atop the list is "bae," an acronym for "before anyone else" that has proliferated as a de facto term of endearment or respect among teens, but is now so overused and misused that even some of their peers are calling it "a dumb, annoying word."
Second on the list of word and expressions so overused in 2014 that they deserve a hiatus in 2015 is "polar vortex." One critic of the expression suggested a return to "calling really cold weather ‘winter.’"
Banished word number-three is "hack," which gets the boot more for misuse than overuse. "Tips and all sorts of goods and services are getting called ‘hacks’ that we have no idea what’s really referred to when the word is uttered," wrote one of the detractors. Another motion to return hack to standard accepted meanings (involving low quality writing, computer security, cabs, etc.) is based on the objection that none of the many meanings of the word have anything to do with its use in articles in social media and elsewhere about "home improvement hacks," "car hacks" and "furniture hacks."
The next four words on the list targeted for banishment are "skill set,"("skill" alone usually covers it); "swag" (now applied to everything from a gift to droopy clothing); "foodie," (has boiled down to anyone who enjoys any kind of food, a big category); and "curate/curated" (a useful concept when applied to fine art and museums, but now too often just a pretentious way of saying "selected").
Closing out the top 10 are "friend-raising" now that it’s become the expression for whenever friends are gained for business purposes; "cra-cra" to mean crazy; "enhanced interrogation" now that it’s been used so much it no longer rings a bell as a euphemism for "torture"; and "takeaway" used to describe what someone learned from an experience or situation.
A more timeless listing of words and expressions writers should reconsider when proofing their work comes from the blog Daily Writing Tips. Its list of 50 Redundant Phrases to Avoid has these 10 pitfalls:
I. "Added bonus" ("A bonus is an extra feature, so added is redundant.")
II. "Ask a question" (To ask is to pose a question, so question is redundant.")
III. "End result" ("A result is something that occurs at the end, so omit end as a modifier of result.")
IV. "False pretense" ("A pretense is a deception, so false is redundant.")
V. "Final outcome" ("An outcome is a result and is therefore intrinsically final.")
VI. "Foreign imports" ("Imports are products that originate in another country, so their foreign nature is implicit….")
VII. "Major breakthrough" ("Though major is not directly redundant, the notable nature of the event is implicit.")
VIII. "Plan ahead" ("To plan is to prepare for the future. Ahead is extraneous.")
IX. "Postpone until later" ("To postpone is to delay. Later is superfluous.")
X. "Unexpected surprise" ("No surprise is expected, so the modifier is extraneous.")