Fashion crimes

From Peter Lynn:

Some words and phrases I’m getting a little tired of:

  • Killer app.: Unless the technology functionally resembles
    the HAL 9000 computer from “2001,” it’s not a killer application.
    It’s just a tired phrase.
  • Diva: Being used today to discuss almost any female singer
    or demanding star, it should strictly refer to female opera stars.
    Elton John is not, and cannot be, a diva — no matter how bitchy he
    acts. The term “prima donna” has already been extended to refer
    to tempermental, conceited people, so let’s please retain the precision
    of “diva”.
  • Fashionista: What a pretentious word! Surely Che Guevara
    would roll in his grave at the thought that the “-ista” suffix used
    by freedom-fighting guerrillas has been co-opted by those in the fashion
    industry, as if their escapades on the runways of Milan are of the
    same importance as the struggle for liberty in the jungles of Latin
  • Almost famous

    Jon Rathbun lends fame to the following:

    I hate the use of terms like “well-known” or “famous” in celebrity obituaries. When I read the daily deaths on the Associated Press wire I figure that if a famous (fill-in-the-blank) were famous, I would not need to be told of this fame. It seems that including the term is AP’s way of telling you that you have never heard of the deceased.

    Mexican cast-offs

    Angelo Young sends these from Mexico:

    I couldn’t find (on the Banned for Life page):

  • shark-infested waters off the coast of…” or,
  • comes on the heels of…” or,
  • because I live in Mexico, this one pops up on my radar: “drug
    .” Since he’s fighting drug use, shouldn’t it at least
    be ANTI-drug czar?) or
  • any use of “ubiquitous
  • And here’s a couple about my current home, Mexico City:

  • Any variation of “the polluted, crowded, crime-ridden metropolis
  • “ubiquitous green taxis
  • and, in Mexico travel writing, get rid of any variation of “…the
    hibiscus spills over the walls of…”
  • Make these extinct

    Rick Palkovic sends a few that were missed by previous contributors:

  • Literally: I’m hearing this used as an all-around intensifier,
    usually when the speaker means just its opposite: figuratively. I
    once heard political commentator say: “Congressional leaders
    literally held a gun to the President’s head!” Don’t we have
    laws against this sort of thing?
  • Et al: Everyone seems to be using this when they mean “etc.”
    They seem to think it sounds more intelligent. Better not to use either,
    of course, but use “et al.” for people; “etc.”
    for things.
  • World-class: A term favored by PR flacks when a more accurate
    description is usually “barely competent.”
  • Endangered species: When all the loggers in the Northwest
    lose their jobs, they just have to find other jobs — they aren’t
    dead, and neither are their relatives, much less the whole human race.
    Casual metaphoric use of this phrase trivializes the enormity of driving
    a species into extinction.
  • Where is that sky anyway?

    Rachel Sauer issues this call for freedom from the skies:

    Relating to your “rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of…” I really hate it when reporters go on and on about the sky.

    Under a clear blue sky…” or “The sky
    overhead was an ominous gray as the people gathered…
    ” or
    Under a blood red sky…” or whatever.

    Aren’t we always under the sky? Anyway, that’s my pet peeve.

    Notes from an English teacher

    Anyone who says “the wave of the future” is clearly “mired
    in the past,” says retired English professor Helen H. Gordon, who
    defines a composition teacher as one who, for the love of good writing,
    reads more bad writing than she’d ever have to read in any other occupation.
    The Professor submits these choice annoyances:

  • “the bottom line”
  • “blow-by-blow description”
  • “last but not least”
  • “unsung hero”
  • “couldn’t care less” (or erroneously, “could care
  • “man’s best friend”
  • “sacred cow”
  • “whose ox is being gored”
  • “man (or woman) who needs no introduction”
  • A few for the guillotine

    Calvin Cahan unloaded these with an eloquence
    born of bile (editor’s note: “tumbrel” is the cart the French
    used to haul people off to the guillotine; I know because I had to look
    it up): I’m strongly opposed to capital punishment, but in the case of the
    following terms, I say, “Make haste! Load them on the tumbrel!”

  • “Give back to the community“: Give what back to
    the community? What did the “community” ever actually give
    that is subject to being returned? What, in fact, is the “community”?
    How broadly should it be defined? This is a desiccated cliche that
    signifies nothing, although it does serve to point out that one of
    the chief characteristics of contemporary life is that there is precious
    little sense of community.
  • Empowered; empowerment“: A term that has been so overused and applied so indiscriminately that its initial meaning
    has been diluted to the point of extinction. For example, a politician
    who promises to “empower” a particular group just about
    ensures that the group will remain powerless.
  • Closure“: If Diogenes were alive today, he no
    doubt would be searching for closure instead of for an honest man.
    This mind-numbing, reductionist piece of psychobabble trivializes
    the richly variegated range of human feelings and emotions. Oh, how
    I fervently desire to closure the door on this noxious example of
    lexical pestilence!
  • Not exactly a day at the beach

    Karl Witter sent this voluminous list of suggestions along:

    Banned images:

  • The intrepid reporter standing at a beach’s high-water mark in the onslaught of a hurricane or other coastal storm. I’m waiting to see a wave crashing over the reporter, and, after subsiding, the
    camera op reeling in a snapped cable with no mic or reporter attached.
  • The transitional bantering in which news anchors, meteorologists and sports anchors appear on screen together for several seconds.
  • Banned words (not including spillover from the corporate lexicon):

  • “And you’re not going to believe this…”, “Get
    ready for this…”, or similar, prefacing a TV news story which
    will shock us with needlessly tragic human suffering or bureaucratic
  • Grow” as a verb done by the subject to the object. One grows neither the economy nor a dog. One can feed a puppy, house-train it, and take it to the vet. Then it grows.
  • Random violence” isn’t; lightning is. The phrase
    seems to have been invented for contemporary street and blue-collar
    crimes, and gangs. Old-fashioned American shootouts, from the Old
    West to the Roaring Twenties, needed no such distinction for the accidental
    shooting of non-involved bystanders.
  • The mother of all…” is this decade’s mother
    of all cliches.
  • Abortion clinic,” “abortion doctor“. Hmm…nobody’s called John Salvi’s victims “abortion receptionists” yet. Hey, I’m just glad the press hasn’t adapted the right-to-lifers’ terminology and started calling women’s health clinics “fetus
    farms”! (Half-kidding but barely.)
  • xxx-ly correct” when one really means “just
    plain accurate and right.” Included uses of note are geographically
    correct, historically correct, and, the winning stretch-of-phrase,
    orinthologically correct.
  • Politically correct” applied ex-post-facto to
    anything. Someday a journalist will describe the Underground Railroad,
    the Pure Food and Drug Act, or the Taylor Act as “P.C.”
    Actually, “politically correct” is a “feely” word
    with no definition anymore. Restrain its use to the original higher-education
    meaning and trash it in other arenas.
  • Oscar, meet the grouch

    In honor of Oscar Night (March 24, 1997), Craig Sonnenberg nominates
    for banishment:

  • The feel-good movie of the year.”
  • So-and-So…”delivers the performance of his/her career
  • So-and-So “gives a triumphant performance that is sure to
    be remembered at Oscar time
  • Other banishment nominations:

  • Reporters pronouncing the word “nuclear” as “nucular”
  • “There’s more bad news today for (The White House, O.J.
    Simpson, Timothy McVeigh’s defense team, whoever)…”
  • “The latest (CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, USA Today, NY
    Times, Gallup, etc.) poll is out, and it’s not good news
    (President Clinton, Bob Dole, Newt Gingrich, The First Lady,
  • Wonk on the head

    Kim Welch suggests these words/phrases:

  • wonk (as in policy wonk, as in virtually every story on Clinton appointees and hires).
  • mosh pit (enough already).
  • virtually (see above); virtual reality (seriously overused)
  • paradigm shift (gag).