'Fiscal Cliff' #1 on Lake Superior State University’s 2013 List of Banished Words

At the end of each year, Lake Superior State University releases its List of Banished Words, which is exactly what it sounds like – a list of words, phrases, and acronyms nominated by readers that have been overused throughout the previous year so much that they should be banished. 

Humorous reader opinions on items in the list are included. “The next time I see or hear the phrase, I am going to double over,” says Tony Reed of Holland, Michigan of the phrase "double down." The 2013 list includes items such as “YOLO,” “spoiler alert,” and “trending.” Not surprisingly, words and phrases from the realm of politics are a yearly staple. And the phrase that received the most nominations for the year 2012? "Fiscal cliff."

Judging by their commentary, it seems as though readers are most frustrated with how the media has been handling the term. For example, Barry Cochran of Portland, Oregon complains that “(We’ve) lost sight of the metaphor and started to think it’s a real place, like with the headline, ‘Obama, Boehner meeting on fiscal cliff/'” Another reader thinks it “tends to be used however the speaker wishes to use it, as in falling off the fiscal cliff, climbing the fiscal cliff, challenged by the fiscal cliff, etc,” and another is annoyed by how the term is often stated and then followed by a definition. 

These frustrations are understandable, but for the most part they are inevitable due to the nature of the chosen term. It begs for reporters and journalists to play around with it. And it is certainly easier to say than “the sharp decline in the budget deficit that could have occurred beginning in 2013 due to increased taxes and reduced spending,” as Wikipedia puts it. In other words, the consensus seems to be that "fiscal cliff" is not overused but rather misused.

See the entire list here.


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