Every so often, we hit up the Hivemind here for words that are getting used way too frequently for no really good reason. Without further ado, here is the list that emerged from our most recent visit to cliche town:
Unprecedented: Between the pandemic, the Trump lawsuits and the trend of cooking chicken with Nyquil, we are the point where the bar for something receiving the “unprecedented” label is pretty high. At this point, it better be Jesus riding a unicorn while throwing tacos to his followers.
(And thanks to the AI artists program, we actually can check this one off our bucket list of “unprecedented” things.)
You’re welcome. Now, go find something else to use in place of this word…
Miracle (sports): I’m sure it was a great game or an incredible comeback, but unless the seas parted between third and home or loaves and fishes multiplied in the end zone, we can stop with this.
Radical (political ads): Did the candidate threaten to castrate guys with tin snips in the parking lot of an Aldi’s as part of their plan to limit the needs for abortions? THAT’S radical. The rest is just stuff you don’t like.
Squash (legal term): It is not. You quash a subpoena. You squash a bug. Or you plant a squash.
Agenda (political ads): I’ve yet to run into a politician who has a fully formed set of motives and efforts that they’ve outlined and subsequently enacted, which is the literal definition of an agenda. In most cases, it feels like this:
Punched their ticket to: Nobody punches tickets anymore. I can’t even get a paper ticket so I can keep the stub as a souvenir. I think if the bands you’re seeing are old enough to qualify for Social Security, the fans should be allowed to request paper tickets. And those will still remain unpunched.
Phone ring off the hook: Phones no longer have hooks. They rarely ring. I get that “Phone buzzing off the desk” doesn’t have the same feel, but maybe just take the next train out of Clicheville… I bet they’ll punch your ticket on the way out.
Weaponize (politics): If you accuse people of “weaponizing” race or gender, they’d better be able to launch a missile out of something. Same thing with anything else we “weaponize.”
Officer-involved shooting: Tell me the cop shot someone or that someone shot the cop. Active, not passive.
Breaking news: It’s not breaking just because you finally figured out about it. Also, it’s not breaking news just because you want to tell me something now. “Breaking news: I just started writing this blog post… More at 11…”
Parlay: By definition, it is, “a cumulative series of bets in which winnings accruing from each transaction are used as a stake for a further bet.” You did not “parlay initial success” of anything into anything else. Unless you could lose that success, stop it.
Brandish: It requires a waving with a flourish, usually in anger. The robber with the gun in his pocket didn’t brandish anything. Unless he broke out into show tunes with a dance number…
Parents’ worst nightmare: Really? We sure on that? I just finished watching the Netflix series on Jeffrey Dahmer, and I lived in Milwaukee during that whole time period, so I’ve got a pretty high “nightmare” threshold. I’m sure whatever happened sucked, but if you spent any time in my nightmares, you’d probably not be talking about a kid not answering a cell phone on time in that regard…
Iconic: A friend notes this article on Ben Affleck and a nap as the moment “iconic” jumped the shark. (Another phrase we should stop using, probably, unless this happens again…)
Unique: It means one of a kind. Unless it’s a snowflake or the Hope Diamond, find a different descriptor.
Ash Heap of History: Unless we really are burning the books, stop using this to describe things we stopped using.
Worth noting: Translation- “I don’t have this from a source, but I want to tell you something.”
Terrible tragedy: As opposed to what? Those fantastic tragedies that make us all happy to be here?
Incident (cop speak): “Police responded to an incident in which…” We know it’s an incident. Everything is an incident. Me typing right now is an incident…