Quiet Desperation

Let’s all join together to beat the banned


Once a year, I invite readers to nominate words or expressions they wish were banned, an idea appropriated from Lake Superior State University’s “Annual List of Words and Phrases Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness.”

Lake Superior’s lists were started in 1976 by W. T. Rabe, the school’s former public relations director who gave the school an unexpected and unique identity nationwide.

The 2021 list was released as always on New Year’s Day, and it predictably reflects events of the preceding year, starting with “COVID-19.”

Others include “Social distancing,” “We’re all in this together,” and “In these uncertain times.”

Add “Karen,” “Pivot,” “Unprecedented,” “In an abundance of caution” and “I know, right?”

If your name is Karen and have something you want to say about “Karen” becoming a “misogynist umbrella term for critiquing the perceived overemotional behavior of women” (according to Lake Superior’s committee) please let me know.

One reader, Tim Reinig, Lone Tree, who anticipated this column, nominated “From farm to table.”

Please send one or two words or phrases, with your name and location, by 11:59 p.m. on May 14 by emailing it to craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.

Some examples are in the Colorado Community Media Hall of Fame, but I have no objection to past offenders being convicted twice.

“Whatever.” “Have a nice day.” “Awesome.” “Cool.”

“Awesome” and “Cool” might be here to stay, but we have gotten rid of “Groovy,” “For sure,” “What’s happening?” and “Tell it like it is.”

Unfortunately, “I know where you’re coming from” lingers.

“Athleticism” is (too) often used in reference to an athlete who demonstrates “Physicality.” What else is an athlete going to demonstrate?

Watch any of the commentary channels and count the number of times someone begins a comment with, “Listen” or “Look.”

“You guys.” “Selfie.” “Legally drunk.” “Hot water heater.” “Bucket list.” “Literally.”

One that’s often underestimated in its potency to undermine a sentence is “Uh.”

“You know?”

“It is what it is” is one of the most egregious, and I am getting mighty tired of “egregious” too.

You get the idea: I don’t want to use up all the good (bad) ones. If there’s a story to go along with your nomination all the better.

Words change and so do names. Once names were simple: Jimmy Stewart, Patti Smith, Billy Dee Williams.

No longer.

There’s an entertainer named Megan Thee Stallion.

“Mom and Dad, I’d like you to meet Megan Thee Stallion.”

“We’re pleased to meet you. What do we call you?”

“You can call me Megan. Or you can call me Thee. Or you can call me Stallion. But you don’t have to call me Megan Thee Stallion.”

(That’s my homage to comedian Bill Saluga and his “Raymond J. Johnson Jr.” routine.)

One reader asked why I insert my middle name: “Sounds pretentious.”

There are thousands of Craig Smiths (one of was just hired to coach the University of Utah’s men’s basketball team.). Without “Marshall” I can’t be found if someone were searching.

There are only two of us (on the internet) named Craig Marshall Smith. The other is a corporal with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

“He is only one of a handful of African Canadians who have even worn a RCMP uniform.”

Because “Thanks in advance” belongs on The List, I’ll just say thank you.

(W. T. Rabe, 1921-1992.)

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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