Tag Archives: Man cave

Annoying Words, and a Lesson about “Trendy Words” in your novel

Every year, Lake Superior State University releases a tongue in cheek list of words that are misused and overused and have become generally useless in the English language.  Here is the list for 2011:

LSSU’s 2012 List Of Banished Words

1.                               Amazing

2.                               Baby Bump

3.                               Shared Sacrifice

4.                               Occupy

5.                               Blowback

6.                               Man Cave

7.                               The New Normal

8.                               Pet Parent

9.                               Win The Future

10.                            Trickeration

11.                            Ginormous

12.                            Thank You In Advance

To see lists from previous years, visit lssu.edu/banished.

I have to admit that I must have been living in a box, because I haven’t even heard most of these.  I’ve heard baby bump, but that’s been around for years.   Amazing has been around, too…  but I don’t see either one as a problem.  Pet parent?  Is that a dog lover or something?

I guess everything in the news is about “Occupy Wall Street” and “Occupy Philadelphia”.  There were notes about people now using “occupy” in slang, but I haven’t heard it (Although I spend all my time in a boring office building)

“Thank you in advance.”  What?  Are people thanking people they meet in the street before a conversation?  I’ve only seen this in the closing of a query letter.

There are a few words that have crept into my house this year that I am completely fed up with.


There is nothing epic about your origami project not folding correctly!

  Please stop saying seriously.  This is one my husband picked up from somewhere.  Every time he sees something he doesn’t like (which is often with three children) he says “Seriously?”   Frequently it is combined with “Come on…  Seriously?” It was okay the first ten times.  All of the sudden it has become a bad habit.  It makes my skin crawl.  And my kids are starting to say it.  I realized this was a larger social phenomenon over Christmas when I heard my older brother say it.  Ugh.

What makes you hear a stupid word, even if it’s misused, and start adding it to your own vocabulary?  Does it make you feel cool?  Is this about an acceptance factor?  I guess it’s like cursing.  If you are around it all the time, it inches in to your normal speech just because it is familiar.

The neat thing about language is that it is constantly evolving.  The items on this list, like “Occupy” are relative to the social and political issues of the year.  That is what makes words so cool.   Next year, (hopefully) no one will even remember the words on this list.  I just pray that Seriously and Epic disappear with them.

As a writer, you should take care to note things like this.  For instance, I read a beta recently where a teenage character said “Epic Fail”  (I nearly puked).  Anyway… what happens is this seriously 🙂 dates your novel.  Be very careful using speech that is “trendy”.  It may be good for your “voice”… but think about this…

You finish your novel.  You query it for a year.  Even if you are lucky and get a contract right away, it could be 1-2 additional years before your novel hits the bookstores.  The “trendy voice” is now dated, and your target audience won’t be able to relate.

Similarly, if you self-publish— yes… you are getting your novel “out there” while it is still trendy.  But what happens in a year?  Do you still want to be trending upwards?  Of course!  Do you want people thinking “Oh, this is so last year!”   Hmmmmm.  Makes you think, doesn’t it?

My suggestion is to be very careful of dating your dialog by being too trendy.  Trust me.  In three years, no one will have any idea of the significance of “occupy”… or worse.  It could mean something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

If you are writing for magazines, though… GO FOR IT.  Magazines are immediate, and a one-time read.  After that month (or whatever the publication period), no one will be able to purchase it anymore.  When writing for magazines, feel free to be as trendy as your genre can stand.

What words annoyed you last year?