2012 has been an interesting time in the life of our lexicon. From new coinages to new usages, English has had a nice growth spurt. Some neologisms quickly outgrow their usefulness, or through overuse, they become meaningless, like an overplayed song on the radio. Here are a few terms that many people have grown tired of in 2012.
Fiscal Cliff — the most-used term in 2012 politics.
This phrase rose to prominence when Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the United States Federal Reserve, used it in a speech in February. “Fiscal cliff” is meant to describe what will happen to America’s tax policy and spending plan in 2013 if Congress fails to address certain plans that are already in motion.
Is it actually a cliff? Not really. In fact, as the deadline draws nearer, it has been more accurately described as a “fiscal slope.”
Selfie — a picture you take of yourself by holding the camera at arm’s length, recognizable by the fact that your arm is in the picture.
Epic — hyperbolic synonym for incredible, great, important.
This word is so overused that it has been on banished word lists three years running. But epic refuses to be banished.
Humblebrag — using humility to cover up the fact that you’re actually bragging. This technique often backfires, making the brag worse, e.g. “People just won’t stop texting me, you’re lucky you have so much time to yourself.”
TLDR — acronym for “Too Long, Didn’t Read.”
How about TLSI (Too Long, Skimmed It)?
To trend/trending — to become popular.
As we predicted in our unheeded January list of words to banish from 2011, this unspecific verbification is still going strong.
To curate – to organize information on a web page or other non-museum entity.
Museums have curators, galleries have curators–are you a curator because you found 10 cute puppy photos and posted them on your wall? Probably not. Did we just curate this banished words list? We’d rather not say.
Bubble — used as a suffix to describe any group or community. . .ever.
The college bubble, the liberal bubble, the conservative bubble, the California bubble, the American bubble…if we get to the “Earth bubble” something is going to pop.
Hashtag — a Twitter symbol that has grown into an orthographic monster.
What began as a “pound sign” or “number sign” and became a method for Twitter users to search tweets with common topics has morphed into the new URL. (Wondering what “URL” stands for? Watch the computer terms slideshow.) See our thorough discussion of the hashtag–and its real name–here.
To reach across the aisle -- an attempt at bipartisan politics in the United States Congress.
What separates Democrats from Republicans? Is it fiscal policy? Social issues? No, it’s the aisle! Our legislators need only to reach across that small span of carpet to govern cooperatively, but once that gap is breached, what do they do? Perhaps they lightly drop an olive branch on the opposing party’s desk, or yank them back to their side by the lapel. We don’t know–the term only goes to the aisle.
Hipster — the flannel-wearing, liberal arts-educated, indie music-listening, director name-dropping, craft beer-drinking, 20-or-30-something dude or dudette that you’ve definitely seen.
Since the early aughts, the word “hipster” has become more and more prevalent and simultaneously more and more annoying to many English speakers. According to the Google Ngram Viewer, use of the word “hipster” spiked in 1961, dropped by over half in the mid 80s and clawed its way back to prominence in the new millennium.
YOLO – acronym for “You Only Live Once.”
Thanks Drake. Thanks a lot. The fun catch phrase born in the rapper’s single “The Motto” has spread like a forest fire through the vocabularies of what feels like every English speaker under 25, and now the term is just an excuse for teenagers to act like idiots. Sure, go ahead and YOLO. As far as science can tell us, you do only live once. But before you eat that live tarantula, take a minute and think about how long you want to be YOLOing for.
Of course, we are not in the business of removing words from the dictionary, and these neologisms will not leave English anytime soon. What are the words that you want to leave behind in 2012?
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