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The wordsmiths at Lake Superior State University are swearing off "fake news" and 14 other words this year in their annual list of words that banished for misuse,  overuse and general uselessness. 

Through the years, the university has received tens of thousands of nominations for the list, which now includes almost 900 entries. This year's list is culled from nominations received mostly through a university website and a word banishment page on Facebook.

“We've drilled down and unpacked tons of pre-owned words and phrases deemed impactful by hundreds of nominators during 2017,” according to a press release issued the university on Saturday. 

The school's word banishment tradition is now in its fifth decade and was started by W. T. Rabe, a public relations director at Lake Superior State University.

Rabe and fellow faculty created the first list of words and phrases that "people love to hate" at a New Year’s Eve party in 1975, publishing it on Jan. 1, 1976, according to the release. Since then, the list has consisted entirely of nominations received from around the world throughout the year.

Word-watchers target pet peeves from everyday speech, as well as from the news, fields of education, technology, advertising, politics and more.

The 2018 list:

Unpack – Misused word for analyze, consider, assess. Concepts or positions are not packed, so they don't need to be unpacked. 

Tons – Refers to an exaggerated quantity, as in tons of sunshine or tons of work. "Lots" would surely suffice. 

Dish – As in to dish out the latest rumor on someone. Let's go back to 'talks about' and leave dishes in the cupboard. 

Pre-owned – What is so disgraceful about owning a used car now and then? 
 
Onboarding/Offboarding – Creature from the HR Lagoon. We used to have hiring, training and orientation. Now we need to have an "onboarding" process. Firings, quitting, and retirements are streamlined into "offboarding." 
 
Nothingburger – Says nothing that 'nothing' doesn't already. I'll take a quarter-pound of something in mine.

Let that sink in – One could say shocking, profound, or important. Let that sink in.
 
Let me ask you this – Wholly unnecessary statement. Just ask the question already. 
 
Impactful – A frivolous word groping for something ‘effective’ or ‘influential.' 
 
Covfefe –  An impulsive typo, born into a 140-character universe, somehow missed by the autocorrect feature.
 
Drill down –  Instead of expanding on a statement, we "drill down on it."

Fake news – Once upon a time stories could be empirically disproved. Now 'fake news' is any story you disagree with. 
 
Hot water heater – Hot water does not need to be heated. 'Water heater' or 'hot water maker' will keep us out of hot water. 
 
Gig economy – Gigs are for musicians and stand-up comedians. Now expanded to imply a sense of freedom and a lifestyle that rejects tradition in a changing economic culture. Runs a risk of sharecropping. 

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_

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