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2012's worst words

Try as you might to avoid them, these irksome terms likely crept into your vocabulary.

By Britt Olson MSN Living Editor Dec 21, 2012 3:54PM

No matter the conscious resistance that we mount, buzzwords have a way of worming into our vocabulary like lexical pathogens. Each year certain phrases become the communicable disease of our discourse.

Photo: Richard Drew/APYou may roll your eyes when your “hipster” colleague refers to something as “artisanal,” but hours later you’ll be gushing over vegan chicken broth bouillon cubes that can only be described as “glocal” for reasons obscure to you and to the person whom you’ve made your unfortunate confidant.

Some expressions seem to exist only to make us realize that we are no less obnoxious than anyone else. Everyone is susceptible to trends in talk. At the Atlantic Wire, Jen Doll glosses the year’s most overused and loathsome vernacular. You may want to strike some of these words from your vocabulary in the new year, if you can.

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The verb “curate” gets called out for dressing up the mundane act of aggregating web content. Many sites claimed to be masterful custodians of crowd-sourced material in 2012. But a word that connotes the careful selection of works for a museum hardly applies to sites whose primary goal is to amass free content.

The presidential election provided plenty of opportunities for “gaffes” and the use of that noun.

“Fiscal cliff”, a combination of expiring tax cuts and government spending cuts scheduled to become effective Dec. 31, was also featured ad nauseum in our political discourse, and looks to continue to.

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Then there was the unfortunate suggestion of “legitimate rape” that also surfaced this election year.

Several perennial adverbs and adjectives made the list for overuse: “historic,” “epic,” “actually” and “literally” being obvious cases of depleted meaning.

Internet culture spawned the “meme”, a short phrase or picture that goes viral, and this year’s Oxford American Dictionary word “GIF”, which stands for Graphics Interchange Format. 

Online conversational expressions such as “jeah” and the sinister laugh “hehehe” also make the Atlantic Wire’s list. So did the acronyms “YOLO” (you only live once) and “TLDR" (too long, didn't read).

Photo: Richard Drew/AP

Bing: Worst movies of the year.

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113Comments
Dec 21, 2012 7:09PM
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Worst word of the year- You Guys- when talking to a man and a woman. Best response to you guys when addressing a male and a female: If the speaker is a male, call him Mam. If it is a female- call her "sir".
Dec 21, 2012 7:09PM
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The worst words of the year were those that came out of Wayne LaPierre's mouth today.
Dec 21, 2012 7:07PM
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"I'm jus say'n" has been replaced by "I mean'' preface to everything. Annoying Obama Nation
Dec 21, 2012 7:03PM
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The phrase "Here's the thing.", drives me crazy. When newscasters use it,  I feel as if I should be shown a point and click segment, no matter the subject!
Dec 21, 2012 6:56PM
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Worst two words, "My bad."
 How about "I'm sorry" or "excuse me"?
Dec 21, 2012 6:55PM
Dec 21, 2012 6:53PM
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I hate it when people make up words out of laziness. For example, a press conference is often refered to (especially on sports websites) as a "presser". What, is it too hard to type the extra letters? To me, a presser is a person employed to iron cloths.
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