Words, for all the controversy they cause, are really just sounds we make to communicate with each other.

As one pundit wrote on the internet, “Names are just two or three syllable grunts. What grunt do I make when I want your attention?”

Still, words can be very serious things that can change the course of history. Or at least put us out of sorts for awhile.

Some people can be so offended by words, or certain combinations of words, that they demand they be erased from all known forms of communications. These forms are usually books, though TV shows and movies can also rile some of us up.

But we’re not here to discuss if Harry Potter was inspired by the devil or if a recent TV perfume ad went too far in showing just where all you could spray that perfume.

No, every year some place called Lake Superior State University releases a list of words that need to skedaddle out the door, never to be heard again. The words are actually catchphrases, mainly used by people who have very little social contact.

Some have been around for awhile, others are newish and there might be one or two you have never heard. But that’s never stopped us before!

1. “Wait. What?” Meant to describe something you were OK with in a confused way, then realized it didn’t sound right, but you needed confirmation. Example: “I didn’t meant to do that (horrible thing).” “Yeah… Wait. What?”

2. “No worries.” This has been around in one form or another for many years. “My house burned down, my wife left me and I can’t find my dog.” Yeah, but did you wake up this morning?” “Uh. Yeah.” “No worries.”

3. “At the end of the day.” I had a co-worker who used this all the time. Sometimes I think he didn’t realize how many times he used it. In a single sitting. Basically means when it’s all said and done, only one solution can be correct. I used to respond to “at the end of the day” with the following gems: “You’ll be wrong, as usual?” “It’ll be dark?” “You’ll still be living way too close to your mother?”

4. “That being said.” I’m still gonna talk for another two hours!

5. “Asking for a friend.” Ha ha. We all know it’s really you asking about hemorrhoids!

6. “Circle back.” We’ll get back to that topic. At the end of the day!

7. “Deep dive.” None of us know anything about the subject at hand, so let’s do some serious research. Does anybody know if Wikipedia is dot com or dot org?

8. “New normal.” Something that wasn’t normal is now accepted by everybody. See?

9. “You’re on mute.” This one came about because of the pandemic. (Thanks a lot, COVID!) There are various internet programs where you can video chat with others and you can, if you wish, make it so other people can’t be heard. Or you can mute yourself. But why would you do that? You have important things to say!

10. “Supply chain.” Another one that sprung from the pandemic. Yeah, supply chain is a combination of two words that have been around for decades, but nobody ever gave them much thought. Then all the stuff we can’t live without got stuck in ports at various places around the country and we began to wonder why our chains weren’t being supplied. Or something.

If you want to see a word or words kicked off the island, you can make a suggestion. That’s how they get them. They had more than 1,200 suggestions for this year and nothing appears off limits, though they probably like it to be kept clean, even if they never seem to say so. There’s class and crass, and hopefully you know the difference.

If you’d like to participate, you can go to https://www.lssu.edu/traditions/banishedwords/ and everything you need is there. If there’s a particular annoyed grunt that’s getting on your nerves, let the world know. How else will they learn?

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