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Banish These Words!
News Bytes 01/6/2021 77 Comments

Around the world, vaccines are being rolled out to battle the coronavirus. And while researchers hope to get rid of the disease itself, the wordsmiths at Lake Superior State University are working to remove any trace of it from the English language.

A Banished Words List committee at the university received 1,450 nominations of words that weary folks are ready to outlaw—and about 250 of them had to do with the virus.

COVID-19 topped the list. Other proposed banned phrases include social distancing and we’re all in this together. In fact, seven of the 10 words on the light-hearted list are connected to the virus. Unprecedented, which was comically banished back in 2002, made the list again.

“To be sure, COVID-19 is unprecedented in wreaking havoc and destroying lives,” Banished Words List committee members say, employing another word from the list in humorous irony. “But so is the overreliance on unprecedented to frame things, so it has to go too.”

Lake Superior State University has compiled the list each year since 1976. Committee members say their goal is to “uphold, protect, and support excellence in language by encouraging avoidance of words and terms that are overworked, redundant, oxymoronic, clichéd, illogical, nonsensical—and otherwise ineffective, baffling, or irritating.”

Nominations for unfavorite words come from across the United States and a number of other countries. Joining past inductees such as absolutely, BFF, and yuh know are the following virus-related banned phrases:

COVID-19 (COVID, coronavirus, Rona). “A large number of nominators are clearly resentful of the virus and how it has overtaken our vocabulary,” the committee writes. “No matter how necessary or socially and medically useful these words are, the committee cannot help but wish we could banish them along with the virus itself.”

Social distancing. “This phrase is useful, [because] wearing a mask and keeping your distance have a massive effect on preventing the spread of infection,” committee members say. “But we’d be lying if we said we weren’t ready for this phrase to become ‘useless.’”

We’re all in this together.

In an abundance of caution (various phrasings).

In these uncertain times (various phrasings).

Pivot. Committee members note how many people talk about the need to change at a moment’s notice: “How everyone must adapt to the coronavirus through contactless delivery, virtual learning, curbside pickup, video conferencing, remote working, and other urgent readjustments,” the committee writes. “That’s all true and vital. But basketball players pivot; let’s keep it that way.”

Unprecedented. As in, this has never happened before. And yet, historians point out, it has, actually, happened before. Just about 100 years ago, there was the Spanish Flu. Before that, the Great Plague, and many other pandemics throughout history.

The following three non-virus words/phrases also made the list:

Karen. Committee members say the name started as a label for angry, privileged, complaining, soccer-mom-type females. Now, they say, it’s become an “umbrella term for critiquing the perceived overemotional behavior of women.”

Sus, short for suspicious.

I know, right? This phrases has been around since the late 1980s and means that the speaker agrees with what’s being said.

“Real-world concerns preoccupied word watchdogs this year, first and foremost COVID-19, and that makes sense,” Lake Superior State President Rodney Hanley says. “In a small way, maybe this list will help flatten the curve, which also was under consideration for banishment. We trust that your new normal—another contender among nominations—for next year won’t have to include that anymore.”

I know, right?

(Kellie Johnson, a respiratory therapist, hopes to “flatten the curve” as she receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Flint, Michigan. Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP)


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Most recent comments

1st Comment

Interesting, but there are still some of those which i will use, such as, I know right, BFF, You know, and things like that. When I first saw the title I thought it was going to be an article about how Nancy Pelosi banished the words "man, woman, husband, wife, brother, sister, cousin, aunt, uncle, etc." For being used in the House of Representatives. Now isn't that just crazy!?!?!? Or the congressman who opened a session yesterday with this prayer that had such silly words and phrases in there having to do with racism and such and ended it with "Amen and Awomen" Crazy again! We need to pray that people start thinking in their right minds again and that common sense starts ruling our nation and those important buildings in Washington DC!

I didn't know what sus meant

I didn't know what sus meant until I read this article. I thought it was just Among Us slang. Like griefing for Minecraft.


Has anyone gotten their magazine yet? I haven't gotten mine.


I haven't gotten mine


What, they're banning words? What if someone accidentally said a banned word would they go to jail? What if some youtuber said sus in an among us video, will their channel get taken down. What has our world turned into.

@Noah R

No, I think they are just letting people know which words are becoming unpopular. They aren't going to arrest you. It's basically a joke.
@Riley D- I will also keep using some of those words, such as pivot. (How else will I quote Frozen?)(Any movie-quoters out there that know what I'm talking about?) And I agree that we need to pray for our country. But also, I have a tip for everyone who is having trouble feeling happy during this time of anti-commonsense. Laugh instead cry. Think about the funny side of the 'Amen and Awoman' incident. That is a dad joke brought to life! If we spend our time thinking about the way that things are horrible, we won't be happy. God has given us a humorous world and we should embrace it. Don't laugh at murder though.

@Riley D

If you say a-men and a-woman you are a-moron


Yeah, what about the first a-women-dment?


And Biden has de-women-tia

We're going down ...

Wow just wow. I think I said ikr more in 2020 than ever in my life xD I never knew what sus meant either...
@ Vaughn I have not gotten mine yet...
@ Asher *cough*

The picture....

I hate shots and I can't stand that picture... It makes me queasy.

Eighth Comment

I'm surprised 'literally' wasn't on the list. It's being used to mean basically 'not-literally' if that makes sense. I wonder why BFF was there and not LOL, (I didn't know what LOL meant until somewhat recently)
@ Addie L: I like quoting movies too and am a fan of Frozen too, but do you mind mentioning what quote you mean that uses the word 'pivot'? I'm assuming you mean Disney's Frozen and not something else.
@ Asher E: :)

@Bethy S

I meant the last line of the movie when Olaf says, 'And gliide, and PIVot, and gliide, and PIVot' when he's helping Anna skate. We say that any time we are skating or talking about skating. :)

@N&M A

About the 'father, mother, sister, etc.' Pelosi wanted to ban them because they are considered to be 'gender-differentiating' or something like that. Like, they somehow make it sound like boys are better than girls or girls are better than boys, which is ridiculous. However, I would think they are only banning it in the House, not for everyone in the US.

15th comment P.S. This is Caro

I love the word BFF! But, with Karen being a word in the dictionary and now being banned, what about those poor people named Karen? I feel so bad for them. I always cringe now when people say unprecedented. Who else plays Among Us? I play it, but only with my family so that I don't have to type in the chat. We got our magazines yesterday.

@Addie L

Pelosi wants to remove those words from language that is used for writing laws because "it is offensive to people who do not identify themselves as a binary gender" basically accommodating people who think there are more than two genders.


My best friend that I have met online is a sweet old lady named Karen and she is about the exact opposite of the stereotypical karen.

@ Addie and Asher

Its so ridiculous!! It makes me mad.
I also know a lot of people named Karen.

We know several people named

We know several people named Karen and they are VERY nice.

Also.................why did

Also.................why did they have to put a picture of someone getting a shot...........*cringe*

@N&M A

IKR?!? Last time I got a shot, I almost passed out in the waiting room. I'm not exaggerating.

@Asher E

Or people who think there are less than two genders...
I tried to put an emoji on this, but it sent it to an error page, so just imagine a puking emoji.

@ Above

"the forbidden word"



@Riley D

I was watching some of the electoral college vote today, and she said to one of the woman coming up to speak, ..."Gentlewoman..." and said her name etc. It was crazy.

@David P

Things are getting pretty crazy in DC now. Hopefully, it will end well.

Oh my word..........we're

Oh my word..........we're losing it big time.....
If someone calls me "Gentlewomen" I might smack them in the face (not really but UGH)


Addie L: Oh thanks!
N&M: IKR, I agree, the picture is flinchy!

People are storming the

People are storming the Capital Building.....

This is Mylee

What ! I love among us and we can’t say sus ? This is so ridiculous, and ikr why get rid of that ? This is so silly I know lots of wonderful people named Karen who are definitely not soccer mom s that act overmotional ! What is more important doing what’s right for our country or sitting in a chair banding things you can and can’t say which does nothing !

This is Mylee

P.s. maybe we could play an among us with ppl from world teen ! It would need to be planned .

@N A

They are being removed now

Ridiculous (this is London)

I use sus and ikr all the time!! Why not ban cuss words. And we have the right to say what we want to so they can do nothing. Freedom of speech right......... among us is so fun, and sus isn’t just an amount us slang. And I know a lot of sweet Karen’s you can’t ban someone’s name.
Lol laugh out loud
Ikr I know right
Gtg got to go
Gg good game
Ik I know
Ppl people
Rly really
Gl good luck
Btw by the way
FYI for your information
Ty thank you
Tysm thank you so much
Txt text
Sus supicous
WYD what you doing
Sup what’s up
Idk I don’t know
Legit legitiment
See how many of these u know and add more

@ David P- Gentlewoman is

@ David P- Gentlewoman is actually a word that was used before all this gender nonsense. I doubt that whoever said it was trying to be one of those people that says amen and awoman.
@ Mylee- Don't worry, the government isn't banning words, it's just some people having fun. I think what they're saying is that IF words were okay to ban, these would be the ones that people would want to go. So no one is going to jail for saying 'we're all in this together' :)

Addie L

No offence But I disagree strongly, I will not laugh at stuff that isn’t funny, ppl are just going crazy

Yes I got my magazine

Did anyone else notice they changed the whole format of the magazine? They changed the logos for the different subjects too :-( I liked the old ones! But I like the new covers (on both WORLDteen and WORLDkids (my brother gets WORLDkids))!

@London S

I think Covid-19 should be banned. It makes me sortve go crazy (social distancing too)


I understand that you don't want to laugh at things that aren't funny. I'm sorry if I didn't make it clear earlier, I am definitely not saying to laugh at things like North Korea or abortion or rioting, but I feel like it's not bad to laugh at people that don't know what they are doing, like the amen, awoman thing, or at people who do know what they are doing, like Trump or Biden when they misspeak. I was saying that instead of despairing over the craziness of the world, we should try to look on the bright side and find something to be happy about.


I have not gotten my magazine
It was totally ridiculous to storm the Capitol. The people went through 4 security fences and were trying to break into the House and Senate chambers. Crazy. What is our world coming to? and about the names, I am not offended. In my understanding God didn't make men and women equal. He made men first, then women. The wife is supposed to submit to the husband. This does NOT mean that women cannot do things men can do, but there are some cases where jobs should just be for men. Anyway, I knwo that is just my thoughts and I am not trying to force them on anybody.

Oh ok I understand XD I

Oh ok I understand XD I thought of like sad things, but there is always a bright side of things

@Riley D

The people who stormed the capital were ANTIFA and Qanon, not actual Trump supporters.

This is London

Mylee that would be fun!!


isn't virus or something like that the "word of the year" according to that article a while ago?

this is Mylee

that is true micah D . Hmmm......

I think it was pandemic

I think it was pandemic

@RileyD and @NoahR

@ RileyD: I heard about what Nancy Pelosi did, and the prayer. Isn't it crazy that they tried to "gender neutralize" the word "amen"? It means "so be it" and has nothing to do with men and women!
@NoahR: I wonder that too! What if they actually made a rule that if you said "social distancing" or "in these uncertain times", you would have to pay a fine? I'd be super careful:)

If it becomes illegal to say

If it becomes illegal to say those words I guess I’ll be the first one in jail *shrug* the government has no authority to tell me how to talk.


If they make it illegal to say gender-specific words then we should do a protest in DC

@Asher E

If they make it illegal to say ANYTHING, I'll beat you there.

@Addie L

Really, how long does it take to drive to DC from your house? For me, it is 18 hours.


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