A brief defense of the word “twerk”: This lascivious dance move had a place in the world before Miley Cyrus made it ubiquitous in 2013. Plus, it sort of makes you giggle when you say or hear it.
But many other words have outlived their usefulness or simply gone flat from overuse during the past year. Here’s our list of 15 words or phrases we ought to leave behind in 2014:
Online waiting room. Who else but the government could push technology backward by 50 years by pairing a 20th-century inefficiency with the Internet? For those who haven’t had the pleasure, the online waiting room is where you “hang out” while waiting for Healthcare.gov, the troubled Obamacare website, to work through its backlog and get to your request. Earth to Washington: The whole purpose of the Internet is to eliminate waiting around.
Taper. For those who haven’t been tapered to death yet, “taper” is what the Federal Reserve is expected to do when it finally begins to wind down the easy-money policy known as quantitative easing. It can’t happen soon enough. In 2013 we’ve had a grueling overdose of taper talk, along with taper tantrums, taper tigers, the age of tapering, Septaper and Octaper (which came and went without any tapering), Dectaper and, I kid you not, Lethal Taper III. The Fed and its chairman, Ben Bernanke, should taper this very minute if only to put us all out of our misery.
Huge. Note to the headline writers at Buzzfeed, BusinessInsider, Upworthy and other sites we otherwise love: “Huge” is supposed to mean really large, not somewhat interesting. It doesn’t make it huger if it’s “ridiculously huge,” “Huge!” or even “ HUGE.”
___ is the new ___. If you’re preparing for retirement, 75 is the new 65. If you’re considering getting pregnant, 45 is the new 25. If you love comfort food, sushi is the new bacon. If you’re chronically unhealthy, sitting is the new smoking. And if you’re a cliché factory, this construct is the new “as if.”
YOLO. The only thing new about this is the acronym. People have probably been saying “you only live once” since the first person died and the survivors realized their days were numbered. Now if somebody discovers that YOLT, that would be news.
The ___ Cliff. The year got off to a good start when we averted “the fiscal cliff,” which at the time seemed like the worst metaphor in the history of government. But now we’re facing “the dairy cliff,” which is so much worse, metaphorically, that it’s like going off two or three cliffs all at once. The dairy cliff will arrive (or we will arrive at it) if Congress fails to pass a new farm bill and ancient statutes kick in, which, through the mysteries of government, would somehow raise milk prices to $7 or $8 per gallon. At that point, the nation’s cows will fling themselves over a cliff, or something like that.
Bromance. We get it: Two guys can dig each other without it crossing a romantic barrier. So let’s let men such as Pimco founder Bill Gross express admiration for guys like investing legend Jack Bogle without tacking on this tired term. Please.
Intel. The Edward Snowden leaks on supersecret National Security Agency programs have made everybody an expert on intelligence. Sorry, that's intel. Yeah, that’s how spies really talk.
Man_____. Mancation, mancession, mancandle, mansplaining, mancave. Man, we’re sick of these. (With one exception — manopause, which somehow seems timeless.)
“Breaking Bad.” The show was great but the attempted tie-ins were terrible. Do we really have a “breaking bad economy?” Is there actually a connection between Breaking Bad and Obamacare? A breaking-bad farm bill!? You’ve got to be kidding.
Sequester. It used to mean putting something into isolation. In 2013, it meant Congress can't do its job so it closes its eyes and blindly takes an axe to the entire federal budget. Let's hope an actual negotiated budget deal in Washington ends the need for a sequester and its more-ominous sounding sibling, "sequestration."
Gamification. Learning is now supposed to be fun, so instructors are looking for new ways to make education more like a video game. Once you enter the real world, just hope your boss doesn’t prefer war metaphors, because warriors tend to slaughter gamers.
Bubble. There’s a housing bubble, a stock-market bubble, a tech bubble, a bitcoin bubble. Or not. One thing that exists for sure is a bubble bubble. Time to pop it.
Social business. It’s the worst kind of social, and perhaps the worst kind of business, too. This term, of course, doesn’t refer to parties hosted by your employer but to the urgent need for corporations to have a social-media strategy. Because we all want to friend IBM.
New normal. People: Once the new normal has been in place for several years, it’s not new anymore. It’s just normal. An important corollary: The “new abnormal” is neither of those things, once everybody starts to use the phrase. Of course, there’s always hope that in 2014 we’ll encounter a new and improved new normal (or abnormal).
Rick Newman’s latest book is Rebounders: How Winners Pivot From Setback To Success . Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman .