‘Wait, What?’ Tops 2022 List of Banished Words and Phrases

  • Here are 10 phrases you can use to drive the language snobs you know insane.

Here’s a little-known fun fact for you. Every year since 1976, the Lake Superior State University (LSSU) has officially banned 10 words from the English language.

Alright, that was hyperbole. But the LSSU does publish an annual list of words it considers woefully, misused, overused, or just plain useless.

It seems that each year’s list has a theme that goes along with the hot topics of the day. For example, the 2021 list had — unsurprisingly — a lot of words that dealt with illness, with “COVID-19” topping the list.

For 2022, however, the list is a bit different. We went back to complaining about everyday colloquial speech.

“This year, as the global pandemic persists along with adaptations to it … seven of the 10 words and terms to be banished are more conversational-based, with the other three applying to the coronavirus,” said Peter Szatmary, executive director of marketing and communications at LSSU, in a statement.

“One possible takeaway from all this about the act and art and science of disclosing something is the more things change, the more things stay the same. At the very least, it’s complicated.”

Out of the more than 1,250 nominations for the list this year, more than 1,000 were words and phrases used in casual conversations. Maybe this reflects how much we’ve been talking to people on Zoom over the year.

But we know you’re here for the list. So, without further ado — the banished words in 2022.

“Oh my, that’s going on the list.”

10) ‘Supply Chain’

Over the last few months, you will have heard someone mention supply chains. They get the blame for everything, from product shortages in stores to long mail delivery times.

That’s why it made the list. The words are so overused they’ve lost all meaning.

“It’s become automatically included in reporting of consumer goods shortages or perceived shortages. In other words, a buzzword,” one judge summarized.

9) ‘You’re on Mute’

The rise of this phrase seems to be directly linked to our collective migration to Zoom and other video call platforms. We’ve all gotten on a call, only for one participant to stay silent even though their mouth moves.

Its inclusion is less about the phrase itself being the. Instead, it reflects the frustrations of the people who have to keep repeating it in every call.

“We’re two years into remote working and visiting. It’s time for everyone to figure out where the mute button is,” the phrase’s nominator vented.

You know what? We agree.

8) ‘New Normal’

Yes, we get it, the pandemic changed the world. You don’t have to keep repeating that it’s the “new normal” anymore. Everybody knows it.

“Those clamoring for the days of old, circa 2019, use this to signal unintentionally that they haven’t come to terms with what ‘normal’ means,” a judge said.

7) ‘Deep Dive’

“Deep dive” seems to irritate people dealing regularly with literature or the media more than it does your average Joe. But the judges raise some good points about this expression’s pointlessness.

“Do we need ‘deep’? I mean, does anyone dive into the shallow end?” one of them asked.

That’s an excellent question.

6) ‘Circle Back’

“The most overused phrase in business, government, or other organization since ‘synergy,’” a judge said when arguing for this phrase’s inclusion. And we kind of have to agree — it gets used too much.

Sure, sometimes you have to return to an earlier point in the discussion. But maybe you can do it without circling back.

5) ‘Asking for a Friend’

This one was kind of funny when you saw it used for the first time. But it got old really quickly.

But people still keep using when making a pathetically thinly veiled, embarrassing inquiry. Just spend a while on Twitter or something and you’re bound to see it.

Let’s face it, no one’s ever fooled anyone by saying this. And it’s not even funny anymore.

4) ‘That Being Said’

Like “circle back,” this phrase does serve a purpose. You may occasionally have to raise a point that runs in contrary to what you said a second before.

That being said, you can do it quicker. Just say “however” instead — or just “but.”

Seeing this one included on the list cut this particular author deep, though. Guess I’ll have to stop using it.

3) ‘At the End of the Day’

Apparently, this phrase was already included in the 1999 list. But nobody seems to have gotten the memo about that.

The judges once again questioned the usefulness of this phrase. After all, many things don’t end at the end of the day.

Maybe reserve saying this for the times when you’re talking about an actual sunset.

2) ‘No Worries’

According to the judges, “no worries” is constantly used as an incorrect substitute for “you’re welcome.” And they want it to stop.

“If I’m not worried, I don’t want anyone telling me not to worry. If I am upset, I want to discuss being upset,” the phrase’s nominator said.

We’re not so sure about this one — it seems just like a handy shorthand for “don’t worry about it.” But who are we to argue.

1) ‘Wait, What?’

And here it is, the grand winner. The most pointless and overused phrase of the year.

You mostly see this phrase on social media to express shock or disbelief about something. But the judges feel it’s infuriatingly vague as a response.

Their justification kind of makes sense. You don’t really know if the person typing the phrase is really shocked, or actually pleasantly surprised.