The Grumpy Contrarian

Posted by Bob on December 19, 2004

There's an annual list published by a publicity-seeking third-rate university of obnoxious words and phrases. This year's is at
The problem is that many of the submissions are genuinely useful words, or popular slang. Slang becomes popular, I would add, because it serves a need, or describes something is a colorful, unique way. These words are dismissed by the humorless authors as "overused." Yes, of course there are some legitimate complaints sprinkled in, but such fatuous comments as "Aren't there already enough words to describe ______?" misses the point entirely. No, indeed, there aren't enough words. That's why this one was invented, and gained currency, and why you're commenting about it in the first place.

So the grumpy contrarian in me wants to set up a little rule: if the "overused" word (e.g., bling-bling) is popular, colorful, vivid, and describes something that would otherwise have to be described in multiple words ("gaudy chunky gold jewelry worn in conspicuous quantity by hip-hop artists and other nouveau riche fools who share their style.") 34 syllables distilled down to two? A useful word.