Ghosting, optics and thought leader are among the terms put on the banned list by a US university in its yearly attempt to improve the English language.


Michigan’s Lake Superior State University is featuring those phrases in its latest List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness.

The 2018 list was compiled by the university from nominations submitted from across the globe with more than 3,000 votes submitted through Facebook and online.

Ghosting is a term used to describe the ending of a relationship with a person suddenly and without explanation, while optics means the way something is perceived, particularly in politics.

Other words to have worked their way onto the list include “collusion” – particularly after US president Donald Trump denied there was any between his campaign and Russia – as well as “wheelhouse” and “in the books”.

One of the more versatile entries is yeet, which can be used to express excitement, but is also a type of dance or a taunt.

On the politics front, “Most important election of our time” and “OTUS” acronyms such as POTUS – for President of the United States made the list.


The acronyms that have found their way onto cable news shows date back to the late 19th century, when POTUS and SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) were used as telegraph codes, according to Merriam-Webster.

FLOTUS, for the first lady, first appeared in the 1980s.

Previous lists have caused controversy, as some members of the public were upset at the 2002 inclusion of “9-11,” which received thousands of votes for banishment, University spokesman John Shibley said.

It was deemed by nominators as “too much (of) a shorthand” for the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, but people misunderstood and thought the school was “thumbing our noses at 9/11,” he said.

Mr Shibley said that with the rise of social media and ever-more-divisive politics, people have even “shorter fuses,” which means he and his colleagues tread carefully.

“Hopefully (it) helps diffuse some of the animus out there – not by laughing at ourselves, but by laughing at how language sometimes backs us into some absurdly funny corners,” he said.
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