Fiscal cliff tops annual banned word list

The word police want to ban the term "fiscal cliff," the much-used phrase that describes the US government debt issue that was temporarily averted with a compromise bill on New Year’s Day.

Fiscal cliff – a short-hand reference to the mix of $US600 billion in tax increases and federal government spending cuts that was due to begin taking effect from January 1 – received the most nominations in 2012.

Also making the cut for Lake Superior State University's annual list of overused, misused and generally useless terms were "kick the can down the road," "bucket list" and "spoiler alert."

Then there is "YOLO," which stands for "You Only Live Once" and is used by wannabe Twitter philosophers "who think they've uncovered a deep secret of life," according to nominator Brendan Cotter, of Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan.

"I only live once, so I'd prefer to be able to do it without ever seeing YOLO again," he says.

The university’s annual List of Words to be Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness has been published every New Year's Day since 1976.

It is culled mostly from nominations by English-language enthusiasts through the university's website.

But don't call them "gurus" – that term is also among the dozen words and phrases on this year's list they want eliminated from the news, advertising, politics and general usage.

Others were passionate in their disgust for the excessive use of the word "passion." References by news and entertainment commentators about what topics were "trending" and incessant talk of "job creation" by presidential candidates also ranked highly for causing annoyance.

Additional terms on the list included "double down" - when used as a verb instead of "reaffirm" rather than a reference to the notorious KFC burger – plus "superfood" and "boneless wings."

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