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Misused or Questionable Words?

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

It's a new year, and Lake Superior State University has released its annual list of words that deserve to be "banished" from our vocabularies. After reviewing their list of ten, I felt compelled to comment on some of these banished words. I also decided to include some of my own words and phrases that I felt could be added to this list.


This word made the top ten list by Lake Superior State University. It was popularized in American speech nearly a century ago. Some English scholars say 'there is no such word', but it's still used in everyday language in the US. My software writing editor wants to change it to 'regardless continually.' Even though it's still used, its reputation has not risen over the years and has a long way to go for general acceptance. Instead, drop the 'ir' and use 'regardless.'

GOAT (Greatest of all time)

My Apple Watch has an option for those I'm following within the activity space, and if they have a good day exercising, the option is to give them the 'GOAT.' Some from an older generation may not follow professional football, so at first glance, they do not know what it means.

After all of his Super Bowl victories, Tom Brady, the QB of Tampa Bay, has been referred to as the 'GOAT.' Before we get too excited, what does 'all-time' represent in this picture? We've only had pro football around for 100 years, so why not say he's the greatest or among the top pro players in the last 100 years? (We don't know what the future will bring.) Better yet, why not say he's the best QB in the history of the NFL? Or one of the most accomplished pro football players? We get lazy, including social media and traditional media such as CBS, NBC, Fox, Amazon, and ESPN. Applicable or not, the GOAT expression has become the default go-to phrase describing special pro athletes, and for partly that reason, it deserves to be "banished."

Misused or Questionable Words

The greatest catch of the year

Professional broadcasters often engage in hyperbole while I'm on the subject. For example, on a normal play in the NFL, some announcers may say, "That's a great play," when "that's a good play" would suffice. Announcers sometimes say, "That catch is the greatest catch of the year," shortly after the actual play. Couldn't they say, "An effective catch" or "a special catch," but no, they often go full hyperbole when it's not always applicable? The irony is that some announcers will repeat some of this hyperbole in forthcoming games. Not all games or plays can be extraordinary. Besides, if you had mostly regular extraordinary plays throughout a game, they'd cease to be extraordinary, as this word will eventually lose some of its effectiveness.

It is what it is

Another expression that has become way too popular is "it is what it is." I can't pinpoint when that phrase became part of our vocabulary or speech, but it is much more common in the 21st century compared to the last century. It can be interpreted as someone comfortable with ambiguity, being open to multiple interpretations, or inexactness. Or perhaps people use this expression if they have nothing else to say. It fills the void of total silence. This expression is so commonly used today that I don't know what phrase or expression was used before.

At this point in time

Another word on the universities' list is "at this point in time," a phrase some English scholars want to eliminate from our vocabulary. Why not be more succinct and say 'now' or 'present' instead? Why not simplify this phrase from five syllables to either one or two?


Lake Superior State University says 'amazing' is another overused word and should be banned. Maybe it's so easy to say, falling off the tongue. To apply it to sports, does every play or a certain action have to be considered 'amazing' when a good or effective play may be sufficient? Could we not sometimes substitute 'amazing' with incredible, astonishing, surprising, bewildering, shocking, or breathtaking? Do some of us even realize how we may be overusing this adjective? It seems as though we're sometimes too lazy or unaware of the overuse of this word. I'm confident that the overuse of this word indeed weakens the actual meaning of the word -- the meaning has been watered down. After a while, could 'amazing' just mean 'good' in many instances?

Quiet quitting

Another phrase on this list is 'quiet quitting,' a trendy term used especially in 2022 whose name doesn't accurately describe its definition. While researching this piece, I wasn't aware of what it meant. Quiet quitting doesn't pertain to an employee resigning. Rather, an employee who does the minimum requirements for a given position. Someone who may feel exploited, so they do the absolute minimum to remain employed. Again, when someone hears this term for the first time, they may not realize it has nothing to do with quietly quitting a job.

Misused or Questionable Words

Moving forward

According to the list published by Lake Superior State University, moving forward is misused, overused, and useless. Since we can't travel back in time, isn't it obvious that moving forward is the only option? Besides being misused, the fact that it's often used, especially in corporate circles, may help nominate this phrase to the banished category.

'All of a sudden' versus suddenly

While we're on the subject, another set of questionable words is 'all of a sudden.' For those wondering about this, the phrase has five syllables and means suddenly. We'd say two more syllables if we used the latter instead of the former. Regardless, it's part of our speech, and I'm not sure we will shorten this anytime soon.

No one talks about them anymore

This is another expression said frequently within the sports space. For example, let’s use the NFL before the Super Bowl era. In other words, no one talks about some of the great teams and players from that era. However, a sports journalist or commenter may mention all the virtues of the successful pre-Super Bowl teams while saying no one talks about them anymore. It's my literal translation, and it's ironic that some complain about this all the while they are talking about them. You can’t continue to say that expression accurately while you're giving them attention in the process. Both scenarios can't be true at the same time.

That Team has no Chance

This is something I hear from ESPN and the Dan Patrick show: Team B doesn't have a chance against Team A. Perhaps they don't have much of a chance, but they do have something of a chance. If they didn't have a chance, then why play the game? Be more specific when you toss around phrases that are not completely correct.

There are other misused or questionable words I have compiled that may be included in a future blog post.

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