This is the first installment of what could be a series, or an abandoned idea, about unfavorite words. Unfavorite words are those “regarded with special disfavor or dislike” (Merriam-Webster). Words and terms are not good or bad in and of themselves, of course, but unfavorite words are those used poorly or incorrectly or much too often. They are not necessarily newly coined but become adopted into everyday language after previously sitting on the sidelines–for example, the word unfavorite is in the bottom 20 percent of words used, per M-W. Apparently most English language speakers use between 10,000 to 20,000 words, but somehow and suddenly you begin to see one word (or term) everywhere. These words appear like Tootsie Rolls (for those old enough to remember the ad), and their overuse spoils them, which is impossible with Tootsie Rolls. The word inspiring this post and series?
Every year since 1976, Lake Superior State University in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan has published their list of words to banish from popular use, or “Queen’s English.” The 2019 list can be found on their website. Their archives are also worth examining: see which words others may also dislike or that you may even be using/overusing without knowing. My first unfavorite word is on the list for 2018. Now that it’s 2019, we can stop using impactful in our resumes and LinkedIn posts and find new ways to say what we mean. And just because, here is the impactful, I mean influential, ad: