December 26, 2009

Overused words and phrases of the decade

In my regular trivia-combing on the Interwebs, I stumbled upon this list: the Top 25 Most Overused Words and Phrases of the Decade. Interesting—I like this list, and agree with most of it. Some of it seems like it's not novel to this past decade—"Dude!" and the clever combining of words (e.g., "metrosexual) go back to the '90s, if not earlier—but other points are well made. Some selective commentary:

"Wardrobe malfunction": This phrase is irritating, but mostly for the trend it's symptomatic of: the inability of anyone to take responsibility for anything. That Janet Jackson's–boob-at-the–Super Bowl stunt was dumb, but not remotely as dumb as the bozo puritanical reaction to it (yeah, date rapists breaking each other's vertebrae is wholesome family entertainment, utterly ruined by the sight of a female breast). "Waldrobe malfunction" is an example of the mealymouthed refusal to call idiots on their hypocritical nonsense. Ergh.

"Status update," "tweeted," "Un/Friended" All IM- and text-inspired abbreviations: OMG, TMI, WTF, LMAO, ZOMG, and the granddaddy of them all, LOL: Get used to it, Grandpa.

"Cougar": The novelty of this wore off about 30 seconds after the cultural meme hit the mainstream. George Burns once said that the greatest discovery of the 20th century is that women like it too; I'm incline to agree, but giving a cutesy nickname to perfectly normal adults who number in the millions betrays a real lack of sexual confidence.

“I just threw up a little in my mouth": I never liked this. It is neither funny, nor a particularly evocative way to say, "I'm disgusted."

Getting anything “on,” like “getting my drink on": Agreed. I despise this—the forced casualness and phony hipness of it drives me insane. I am constantly beating it back in my day job as an editor, reminding people that somehow, we were able to express ourselves before Missy Elliott came along.

"That’s what she said”: Call me juvenile, but I still think this is funny.

Personally, I feel like this past ten-year period has suffered from a peculiar infestation of especially annoying phraseology, but I'm sure civilization has always been plagued in this way. So I wouldn't panic too much. Still, if, when the 2020s come along, we're communicating solely in symbols and word fragments, I'll admit I was wrong.


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