15 Most Overused Words and Phrases of 2015

By Dan Cirucci | via Dan Cirucci’s Blogspot

2015 provided a real workout for tons of words and phrases (some leftover from 2014) which we were forced to hear over and over again.

How we wish they would go away.

Anyway, in no particular order, here are the top 15 most over-used words and phrases of the year:

mouth1) Narrative

As in “that’s not the narrative” or “he has to change the narrative.” Hey, narrative was pretty much always associated with fiction as in a film narrative or the narrative of a play or book. But now it’s entered the ream of real-life as if to suggest we can change the “narrative” of our life or of other’s lives just as a politician can (presumably) change the “narrative” of his/her campaign. To which we say: B-a-l-o-n-e-y!

2) Black lives matter.

The latest battle cry of the latest liberal/Black initiative. We heard it again and again this year but, being pro-life anyway, we’ve long since concluded that life itself matters. Okay?

3) Franchise.

Franchise used to mean McDonald’s or Burger King or Taco Bell. But now, every NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB team is a franchise. Downton Abbey is a franchise. Star Wars is a ubiquitous franchise. The Clintons are a franchise. As the name has [wrongly] become synonymous with brands and branding we’re being franchised to death. Indeed, funeral homes now offering “life celebrations” are officially franchised. We’re franchised from womb to tomb it seems.

4) Legacy.

Everybody seems to be worried about his/her legacy. Even ordinary people (who are now celebritized via Facebook) have to consider their legacy. It’s something that all too many of us are obsessed with to the point of calibrating it daily. In fact, one would imagine that President Obama has been consumed by thoughts of his legacy almost since the day he was born. Maybe that’s what seems to make him so tiresome these days.

5) Iconic and Ironic.

No, everyone’s not iconic and everything’s not ironic. In fact, many edifices thought to be iconic are not. Yes, the Eiffel Tower is iconic and so is the Empire State Building and Big Ben and the pyramids and the shape of a Coke bottle. Sinatra remains iconic as well. But Justin Bieber isn’t an icon and neither is the London Eye. As for ironic, that only applies to things that happen in the opposite way than what was expected, causing wry amusement. Look it up and find examples that will guide you in the proper use of the word because it’s not ironic that you woke up on one side of the bed while your mate woke up on the other — unless of course each of you woke up on the opposite side from where you retired.

6) No Worries

Does this drive you as crazy as it does us? When someone says “no worries” that’s a sure signal to worry. Especially here in the super wound-up northeast where there are always worries — scads of worries. We’ve so much to worry about that we worry about getting behind on our worries. Please, don’t tell us “no worries”!

7) Microaggression.

The term has now come to include everyday slights, snubs, or insults (however subtle or unintended) communicating hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based upon their marginalized group membership. But, how can the insulted people be “targeted” if the snubs or insults are “unintended”? And who determines what is a “marginalized” group and who is a member of such a group? There’s a word for all this: Stupid!

8) Out of an Abundance of Caution.

As in “out of an abundance of caution” the whole world is going to hell. Because of this abundance of caution, schools are shutting down, planes aren’t flying, stores are closing, products are being pulled from store shelves and people are often becoming prisoners in their own homes until,(out of an abundance of caution) they’re forced from their homes into the shuttered schools or railroad terminals to wait it all out. Yes, out of an abundance of caution we are now producing an abundance of wimps.

9) War on Women.

A holdover from 2014, this phrase is often coupled with other verbal contraptions such as the hopelessly artificial “reproductive rights” — a phrase that truly drives us mad. As far as any sane person can tell, women (at least in this country) have never had it better, especially since they’ve largely succeeded in feminizing the culture. Power comes with responsibility. If you want equal rights, then go to war on the frontlines, on the battlefield and show us how equal you really are.

10) Safe Place and Safe Space.

This sort of goes along with those who are fleeing microaggression and all those other feigned indignities. Hey, in a world where a little baby is no longer safe in its own mother’s womb (where that same baby may have his/her body parts carved out and sold) there is no safe place or space anywhere, anymore. Grow up!

11) Trumped, Trumpified, Trumpism.

Hey, enough with the play on The Donald’s name already. We get it. It looks like he may be around well into 2016 (and perhaps further) so, let’s give it a rest. Besides, he’s already attached his name to a zillion edifices himself.

12) Transgender, Trans, Tran and Transgendered.

We’ve known about it since Christine Jorgenson, which was more than 60 years ago. There’s nothing new here. And though there’s not quite nothing to see here, there’s nothing that we’re longing to see, either. Our message: If you want us to consider this “normal” then go on with your life in as ordinary a fashion as humanly possible and please, don’t make a spectacle of yourself.

13) Make No Mistake.

We’re human. All of us. And we all make mistakes. So, shut up!

14) Crowd Sourcing, Crowd Funding, Locally Sourced.

Crowd sourcing and crowd funding are how the stock market got started and that was in 1817. Locally sourced? Oh, you mean like farm fresh? Crowd sourcing means “Climb on the bandwagon!” Crowd funding means “We want your money!” Yup, these three phrases are just made-up buzzwords created to make you think that something unique is going on. Don’t be fooled!

15) Artisanal.

Another holdover and another totally phony concoction. Have you ever heard of crafting something or making it by hand? Have you heard of something that was homemade? Yeah, like something you or I might be able to do at home. Like those cookies you made for Christmas. You’re an arTEEST! Oh my, that’s soooo artisanal. Voila!

16) Here’s just one more: Engagement.

The word was pretty much always associated with betrothals — the path to marriage. But, who the hell knows what marriage even is anymore, so now it’s all about our collective engagement as in “civic engagement.” Do you want to have a conversation or hold a meeting or hear from others? Then, you will have to “engage” them. We will all become engaged! It’s all so damned engaging, isn’t it?


Dan Cirucci
About Dan Cirucci 367 Articles
Dan Cirucci, the founder and editor-in chief of the Dan Cirucci Blog (http://dancirucci.blogspot.com/), is one of the most widely honored public relations professionals in his field and a public relations consultant to numerous organizations and individuals.


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