Top 10 Words That Need To Die, Immediately


The English language is full of beautiful words. Like effervescent, and skullduggery, and defenestrate

And then there are these. These blights. Affectations that are completely devoid of meaning. Crimes against the English language that, just by saying them, you can lower any IQ within earshot. 

You may look at some of the words and say, "Those are portmanteaus and acronyms and memes! Onomatopoeias and slang terms! Surely they do not count as words!"

But, these are all things I have personally heard people say out loud. Not to mention their constant, unending appearances in every corner of the internet. These are things ingrained in our language so deeply that, no matter where you say them, no matter who you say them to, these things will be understood. That makes them words. 

Words that need to die. 

10. Bromance

Origin: portmanteau of the words brother and romance, created in the 1990s by Dave Carnie (editor of the skateboard magazine Big Brother) to describe the relationships that develop between male skaters.

Why it sucks: The word bromance exists so two guys can be friends without being accused of wanting to touch each other's junk. It's not homophobia, but it's close. Maybe I'm a little European in my thinking, but two guys should be able to be friends without having to create some sort of no-homo shield around it. Also, portmanteaus are generally obnoxious. Putting two words together to create a new word is not a unique, creative skill. It's lazy kitsch. 

9. Man-cave

Origin: The origin of this phrase is not entirely clear. Some say it was born of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray. In the book, Gray discusses the propensity of men to "retreat" to their caves, or safe havens, to sort out their problems.  

Why it sucks: Man-cave is less a word and more a marketing term, created to sell pool tables and sports memorabilia to guys who feel they need a masculine refuge from their nagging wives. Here's a fun statistic: 90 percent of people who see my home office call it my man-cave. It being in an attic and full of vintage paperbacks and computer equipment, I don't know what makes it a cave, or manly. Here's another statistic: I don't live in a damn cave. 

8. Awesomesauce

Origin: Unclear, though some people attribute it to Strong Bad, a character from the Homestar Runner series of Flash web cartoons, who refers to a cleaning product with the trade name of Awesome Sauce.

Why it sucks: I don't know why someone thought the addition of the word "sauce" to "awesome" would give it more impact. Maybe because awesome used to be a big, grand word meant to describe the beauty of the universe, not the nachos you had at the bar last night. And again, portmanteaus. They are terrible.  

7. Foodie

Origin: The word was created in 1981 by Paul Levy and Ann Barr, who used it in the title of their book The Official Foodie Handbook. A foodie is different from a gourmet; while a gourmet is considered an expert on food, a foodie is an amateur striving to be an expert. 

Why it sucks: Oh, you're a foodie? So you like food? Guess what? So does everyone else on the planet. People assign fancy titles to the things they do because it makes them feel better (than you). I'm a writer, but what would you say if I started calling myself a wordsmith? Foodies should choke on their locally-sourced organic chicken.

6. Irregardless

Origin: Unknown, but many believe it's a portmanteau of irrespective and regardless. Most dictionaries list it as nonstandard or incorrect. 

Why it sucks: This is not a word! It bothers me that I even need to put this on the list, but I still hear people say it, all the time, and not even ironically. They say it because they think it's a real word. But even on the face of it, it doesn't work, because it's a double-negative. The ir- and the -less essentially cancel each other out. This is a jumble of stupid. 

5. Fail

Origin: Unknown. Fail has appeared as an interjection in Urban Dictionary as far back as 2003. Google Trends indicates that internet users began exchanging and searching for pictures labeled with FAIL in 2004.

Why it sucks: This word needs to be put out to pasture, and not just because my mom used it in a text. It might have been clever the first couple of times it was used, because don't we all love laughing at the misfortune of others? But like any joke, by the 9 trillionth time it's been told, it's just not funny anymore. This word, by the way, is rendered even more dangerous by the addition of the word epic.

4. Nom

Origin: A derivative of om-nom-nom, which was first used by Cookie Monster in Sesame Street, and later made popular by brain-numbing web travesty, the lolcat. Technically an onomatopoeia, or a word that suggests the source of the sound it describes.

Why it sucks: More kitsch, and the worst kind. It's a cutesy, childish sound, nearly on the same level of babytalk, but adults use it. Adults! Who are talking to other adults! It's like saying wah when you're upset. Is this what we've come to, America? Babytalking each other?!?

3. Totes

Origin: Unknown. Some believe the word was coined in 2009 by Paul Rudd in the film I Love You, Man. Totes actually appears in Urban Dictionary as far back as 2003. 

Why it sucks: Every time I hear totes I think of tote bags, so the usage is a stumbling block on my path to understanding whatever idiotic thing was just said. It forces me into a hate-spiral of twisted logic: "Oh, this person meant to say 'totally,' but substituted an abbreviation, because shaving off two letters saves time, except for the fact that it took me longer to process what they meant, and then I started thinking about this... and now it's all gone to hell."

2. Winning

Origin: Charlie Sheen. 

Why it sucks: Charlie Sheen.

1. LOL

Origin: The oldest written record of LOL was from a message typed by Wayne Pearson in the 1980s on Usenet. On March 24, 2011, LOL was formally recognized in an update of the Oxford English Dictionary. 

Why it sucks: This is a bane on language. It is barren of meaning. It's barely a punctuation mark. Whenever someone types LOL in conversation, I want to hold them to that: Really? Did your epiglottis actually just constrict your larynx, producing the sound of laughter? Or did you just type it, to take up space, because, why not? 

I think it's the lack of authenticity that bothers me about LOL. To type it is to say that you're expressing a basic understanding of amusement, and nothing more. It's fodder. What um is to public speaking, LOL is to typing. 

And the people who say it out loud. Oh, the people who say it out loud. They are damned. 

Those are mine. Now show me yours. What words do you think need to be eliminated from the English language...

Photo by Pieter Joost Lemmens

Image of New Yorked (Ash McKenna)
Author: Rob Hart
Price: $9.99
Publisher: Polis Books (2015)
Binding: Paperback, 304 pages
Rob Hart

Column by Rob Hart

Rob Hart is the class director at LitReactor, as well as the publisher at He's the author of New Yorked, nominated for the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, as well as City of Rose and South Village. Short stories have appeared in publications like Shotgun Honey, Thuglit, Needle, Joyland, All Due Respect, and Helix Literary Magazine. Non-fiction has appeared at Salon, The Daily Beast, Birth.Movies.Death, The Literary Hub, Electric Literature, and Nailed. He lives in New York City. Find him online at

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Renee Miller's picture
Renee Miller from Tweed, Ontario is reading The Wolf Gift February 24, 2012 - 1:27pm

I will not give up awesomesauce. No. You can't make me!

Laramore Black's picture
Laramore Black from Joplin, Missouri is reading Mario Kart 8 February 24, 2012 - 1:38pm

If I say any of these, it is in pure sarcasm.

Totes for real, bruh.

N.L. Vaught's picture
N.L. Vaught from Charlotte, NC is reading All sorts February 24, 2012 - 1:42pm


This used to refer to free things given away at conventions and other gatherings. Somehow it has evolved into an ambiguous expression. No one knows what "I've got swag" actually means; though, some argue it is the same as saying "I've got style." But it is also used as a response, as an introduction, as a closing statement. It just doesn't make sense... swag.

voodoo_em's picture
voodoo_em from England is reading Zombie Bake Off by Stephen Graham Jones February 24, 2012 - 1:43pm

I always cringe when I hear people actually saying LOL, whats wrong with just laughing? 

"Chillax" chill out and relax SUCKS!

I hate all the merging of couples names and first name/ surnames of celebs.

The only good "made up word" I have heard recently is "Bieberphile" to refer to grown ups who love Justin Bieber. It so funny I could say LOL at it (not really...)

Christopher Provost's picture
Christopher Provost from Nashua, New Hampshire is reading The Zombie Survival Guide February 24, 2012 - 1:49pm

On the heels of FAIL and, as you already alluded to, I nominate "epic."  Gilgamesh was epic.  The Odyssey was epic.  Beowulf was epic.  Making an ass out of yourself at the bar the other night was not epic.  Not even close.

postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words February 24, 2012 - 1:54pm

"nice" - see George Carlin's rant

"get" - as a substitute for about a hundred other perfectly descriptive verbs.

mwmullin's picture
mwmullin from New Zealand February 24, 2012 - 1:57pm

I hate the word "guesstimate".

delladoor's picture
delladoor February 24, 2012 - 2:05pm

Deets. Gods, the loathing  "Deets" inspires. It is supposed to be short for "details." Much like the Totes example above, hearing it drops a girder smack in front of my train of thought. 

The Key Lime's picture
The Key Lime from Staten Island is reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy February 24, 2012 - 2:10pm

And now, to use all ten words in one absolutely terrible sentence (with the addition of "umami" because, ugh.):

While sitting with his good friend in “The Land of Winning!”, a particularly atrocious name for a man-cave, the self-declared foodie nommed away at an umami-filled delicacy, and said “Irregradless of our bromance, I just wanna say that your lady friend is awesomesauce and I would totes make out with her. J/K! LOL!”, which all agreed was an epic fail.

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies February 24, 2012 - 2:29pm


mutterhals's picture
mutterhals from Pittsburgh February 24, 2012 - 2:42pm

Man cave brings to mind male to female post op transsexuals, at least to me.

TotesEpicFailNomNom's picture
TotesEpicFailNomNom February 24, 2012 - 2:54pm

This is snobby faux literary elitist nonsense.  Relaxing a bit, exhaling that breath you've been holding since college and going with the flow will allow you to either enjoy ridiculous memes or not be angry enough to write a post discouraging all of humanity from enjoying them.  Posts like this are the English equivalent of angry atheists.

Exceptions: Bromance and irregardless, which I doubt people use as jokes. :) LOL.

Amber Funk's picture
Amber Funk February 24, 2012 - 3:35pm

  I would like to rid the world of the words "Fashionista" and "Shopportunistic" Every time I hear these words uttered on TV Ads, I cringe. Now they have begun to spread to every day lingo. Please people do not repeat these words, they are horrid! I also agree that bromance and irregardless are putrid, but, I must admit that awesomesauce I have used on occasion.

   This one will probably make the writer of this post insane, but I love to use this word to describe people that I have no respect for and truly dislike. The word is.... Turdnugget. As in,"That person (insert name here) is a Turdnugget". It brings a little bit of joy and definitely a smile to my face every time I speak it. 

Banz's picture
Banz from Brisbane is reading Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman February 24, 2012 - 3:55pm

I cannot stand the word "webinar".  It's ugly to say and it's ugly to look at but I guess in some ways it accurately prepares you for sitting in front of a glitchy webcast* at some ridiculous hour.  You just know nothing good will come from attending a webinar.


*Yes, I know.

Natalie Saints Sinner Gallo's picture
Natalie Saints ... February 24, 2012 - 4:13pm

"My bad." A phrase that makes me want to stab the speaker.

philosbek's picture
philosbek February 24, 2012 - 4:15pm

!!!!!!!  yes, yes, and yes!!!!  let them all die...  my bit of kindling? 


*oh, and N.L. Vaught... it's actually "schwag" and it should, most definitely, die among the rest.  I think "swag" is derivative of "swagger" which alludes to a certain type of style or the way an individual carries oneself.


I wonder if "dude" will ever make its way onto one of these "lists of the loathed"...hmmmmm.

Kristine Powers's picture
Kristine Powers February 24, 2012 - 4:39pm

I would love nothing more than for OMG to die. And everyone that says OMG instead of Oh My God will die with it.

Deacon Khet's picture
Deacon Khet from ohio is reading Hell's Angels by Hunter S Thompson February 24, 2012 - 4:45pm

you would think the word 'gourmand' would adequtely replace "foodie", but i suppose it just appears too epicurean for practical speaking lay-folks to start abusing...

Casey Dee's picture
Casey Dee from StoneyHell is reading The Brothers Karamazov February 24, 2012 - 4:47pm

I agree with man cave. What springs to mind most is a gentleman's anal region. I would rather not have my boyfriend hang out with some guys in his man cave. Thanks. 

Totes ma-gotes makes me giggle 'irregardless' of its current overuse.

writingasgjjensen's picture
writingasgjjensen from Don't Ask is reading A lot. I try to read as much as I can. February 24, 2012 - 4:54pm

I love this list, and will continue to secretly enjoy "nom."

However, the word "literally" makes me cringe.

ODD DUCK's picture
ODD DUCK February 28, 2012 - 10:06am

SWAG is free stuff, sometimes that fell off a truck, or was Stolen Without A Gun.

Random. "That was random." Was it? Really?

Real instead of the adverb.

Literally. Chuck knows what I mean about this one.

Foodie should be eliminated from the lexicon. These are the same people that tend to term themselves connoiseurs, experts, or mavens. You're none of these. You are a fan, perhaps. An enthusiast, certainly. Please make it stop.

Any verb that is now used as a noun: install, invite, etc.

That said, I have used the term libationist to describe what I do part-time.

Jay Stuckman's picture
Jay Stuckman from Columbus OH February 24, 2012 - 4:58pm

I can't believe nobody has brought up "nother", as in "a whole nother". Like "irregardless", it's simply NOT A WORD. I like "quotation marks".

avery of the dead's picture
avery of the dead from Kentucky is reading Cipher Sisters February 24, 2012 - 5:01pm

I had an argument with someone over the word (NON-word) irregardless.  They kept telling me it was in the dictionary so it was a word.  But even in the dictionary, it says it is incorrect. 

Macgowan's picture
Macgowan from New Jersey is reading House of Leaves February 24, 2012 - 5:15pm

I don't know that I have much to contribute, but I'd like to throw my weight behind the crusade against "random" and "epic." People very seldom use "random" appropriately, and unless your drunken night involved a sword, it was not "epic."

On a related note, I loathe when people misuse "literally." I've heard someone say that she literally laughed her ass off. I spent thirty minutes asking how she could sit and offering first aid before she caught on.

I'd add "weird" to the list. It's not a word that needs to die, but a word that needs to stop being abused. I'm all for the evolution of language; I think it's absolutely integral to language as it is. I'm just bothered when people ignore words that have precise definitions in favor of watered-down bollocks that means almost literally nothing.

I don't have a particular problem with portmanteaus (I've been known to combine atrocious and horrendous into horrocious), but I tend to use them only toward comedic ends.


Ah. How about "ironic?" Poor word is misused more frequently than hand lotion.

moogod's picture
moogod February 24, 2012 - 5:39pm

I fail to understand how "disingenuous"is a proper word? I was always under the impression you cannot use double negatives in words. Someone please either explain how that freaking word works or take it out back and shoot the damn thing.

Casey Dee's picture
Casey Dee from StoneyHell is reading The Brothers Karamazov February 24, 2012 - 5:46pm

Side note: Portmanteau is quickly becoming my favourite word.

CStodd's picture
CStodd from NY is reading Annie Prouxl's Fine Just the Way It Is February 24, 2012 - 5:52pm

How about we all retire "Woo Hoo" said mostly by women describing their emotions following a pleasant event. Its now common place to say this phrase in both hopes to rise to some occasion or as a ready-made reaction to something perceived as fun. 

Jill Melnick-Muller's picture
Jill Melnick-Muller February 24, 2012 - 6:08pm

I agree with Renee , AwesomeSauce is great and I am not ready to give it up.
I have,recently been bugged by the word contrived...the statement "it's just so contrived" is just so contrived!
Literally has been coming up and yet,still people misuse it....literally!!

Mark's picture
Mark from Lexington, Kentucky is reading The Chronology of Water February 24, 2012 - 6:17pm

I fail to understand how "disingenuous"is a proper word? I was always under the impression you cannot use double negatives in words. Someone please either explain how that freaking word works or take it out back and shoot the damn thing.

"Disingenuous" is a proper word because the prefix "in-" does not always mean "un-" or "not." It has a second distinct and historically rooted sense where it means "into, in, on, or upon."

The word "inquire," for example, does not mean "not to query, not to question," but means precisely "to ask a question." The version that passed to us more directly from Old French ("enquire") means exactly the same as the more Latin-influenced version, "inquire." Notice that with these words there is no sense of negation or "the opposite of" implied, because it's a sound-alike prefix with a completely different chain of etymology. By the same token, you wouldn't think of "enlightened" as meaning the opposite of having a light turned on in your mind or the burden of ignorance lifted. Quite the contrary. So, the answer could be stated like this: sometimes "in-" equals "en-" and other times it means "un-" or opposite.

It isn't used nearly as often these days, but "ingenuous" is a perfectly good and historically anchored word meaning "candid" or "upright" or "of noble character." Disingenuous is the opposite of ingenuous and works just like "unenlightened."   

Aaron Wrotkowski's picture
Aaron Wrotkowski February 24, 2012 - 6:34pm

I signed up just to say that the most overused, misused and improperly used word on the Internet is troll and I kindly ask it stops.  Remove it from your vocabulary.  Criticize your friends for using it.  Kill it dead.

MichaelJoseph's picture
MichaelJoseph from New York is reading Underworld by: Don Delillo February 24, 2012 - 6:32pm

Add "no-homo" to that list as well...


karennewnam's picture
karennewnam from Norfolk, VA is reading Before I Go to Sleep, Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President February 24, 2012 - 6:43pm


This is not a word. End of story.

Dharma's Pack's picture
Dharma's Pack February 24, 2012 - 6:45pm

As a verb "disrespect"  can leave anytime, along with "diss".  "yo" is another one that tires me.


Randi Keas's picture
Randi Keas February 24, 2012 - 6:45pm

Can someone please explain to me what "bwahaha" is! I don't know if im supposed to be offended or if this is a more genuine way of saying LOL...

Randi Keas's picture
Randi Keas February 24, 2012 - 6:45pm

Can someone please explain to me what "bwahaha" is! I don't know if im supposed to be offended or if this is a more genuine way of saying LOL...

Korey's picture
Korey February 24, 2012 - 7:24pm

Maybe we should hold a funeral for them like Rick Rubin did for the word def? 

hihocricket's picture
hihocricket February 24, 2012 - 8:21pm

Even though I agree with the ridiculousness of these words, despise abuse of the English language, and readily admit to an bit of loftiness in my own manner concerning certain subjects... the author really seems like he's got a stick up his butt. Just calm down, alright? There's no need to be so virulently angry and cynical about the subject. You declare "foodies" to be snobs who all think they are better-than-thou - yet this entire post is a vindictive peroration...

aliensoul77's picture
aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. February 24, 2012 - 8:27pm

I like LOL because hahahahha is overdone but I guess I could hahahhahah more.  It's important to actually say when you are joking though online because otherwise people will just think you are an asshole. So I do LOL a lot.  I am the worst LOL'er you have ever seen.  I always took bromance as meaning possibly bisexual if he gets drunk. There is hope in that word.  I agree with "winning" though, Charlie Sheen should just fucking die already.  I hate his goddamn face.

frenchgirl's picture
frenchgirl February 24, 2012 - 9:02pm

I absolutely go crazy when people say " I go, he goes, she goes" instead of " I said, he said, she said." Unfortunately this speech pattern is now ubiquitous that I fear the word 'said' is becoming extinct. WTF?
I hate man-cave, omg, and lol, whatever, and that awful shiz. Just say shit for god's sake.

ajwilbar's picture
ajwilbar February 24, 2012 - 9:12pm

Working in the entertainment industry, "swag" was always promotional items and crew clothing. (I'm down to 52 "swag" t-shirts!). Never heard it called "Schwag", that word meant something else, usually unrelated to the industry, unless it was August and you only had "local crew" to deal with.

As a reaction to "lol", I instead say"llo", meaning "loudly laugh out", best said in a bad Russian accent. I'm sure most think I've mis-typed! 

Kara Brooks's picture
Kara Brooks February 24, 2012 - 9:22pm

"Cray". As in, "Oh shit, son, that was craaaaay!" Really? You're removing one letter from a word and using it like it's new. Fuck (hypothetical) you.

Optimus pitt's picture
Optimus pitt February 24, 2012 - 9:27pm

"Cool beans" needs to go away and die. But 'psych' is immortalized in the annals of my vocab.

Mark's picture
Mark from Lexington, Kentucky is reading The Chronology of Water February 24, 2012 - 9:33pm

Even though I agree with the ridiculousness of these words, despise abuse of the English language, and readily admit to an bit of loftiness in my own manner concerning certain subjects... the author really seems like he's got a stick up his butt. Just calm down, alright? There's no need to be so virulently angry and cynical about the subject. You declare "foodies" to be snobs who all think they are better-than-thou - yet this entire post is a vindictive peroration...

I would say the tone of the article is playfully contentious and provocative--an exaggeration of the author's real sentiment carried out to deliberate rhetorical effect. But then, I know Rob, and he's never vindictive or seething. The pet peeves, I'm sure, are sincere, but the personality behind them is not a venomous one. There's a payoff for this well-manicured anger in entertainment value to the reader who enjoys it. And who doesn't enjoy an erudite and well-reasoned rant, at least once in a while? Judging by the page views and sheer number of people creating accounts under provocation of making a first post in this thread, the tone of the article is as effective as the list format and the subject matter.

Mark's picture
Mark from Lexington, Kentucky is reading The Chronology of Water February 24, 2012 - 9:40pm

I absolutely go crazy when people say " I go, he goes, she goes" instead of " I said, he said, she said." Unfortunately this speech pattern is now ubiquitous that I fear the word 'said' is becoming extinct. WTF?

It's a regionalism. Growing up, the only time I ever heard "I go," "he goes," and "she goes" used as a substitute for "said" was when my cousins from Northern Indiana were visiting. For everything you might object to in the speech patterns of southerners, we do not substitute "goes" for "said." So, if the main fear is ubiquity, the world is safe. Move to anywhere in the southeastern U.S., from Kentucky to Florida, and you'll never hear this almost Canadian or Fargo-sounding expression.

fathergetdown's picture
fathergetdown February 24, 2012 - 10:56pm

ive got a few that oddly noone has said,




4.LIKE (she was like omg, and i was like oh no you dint.)

Kinchan's picture
Kinchan February 24, 2012 - 11:01pm

Ironically (LOL and heeheehee), a word that needs to die is the word "sucks," which the author of this post used at least ten times (each time making me cringe). Funny that he was so exercised by all of those terrible words and yet was oblivious to one of the worst of them. I am about as sick of this word as I am of the word "awesome."  Sucks is such a vulgar and profane word, which nobody realizes anymore since its original meaning has been so completely (or should I say totes?) stripped by its out-of-context overuse.  My mother was appalled every time she heard it being repeated regularly in conversation starting in the 1980s and explained to my little child mind how it had been used in conversation previous to that time.  After her explanation, I vowed to never use the word and it always bothers me when I hear crude. Couldn't the author have used something a little less trendy to express his displeasure about each of his top ten words? But even if it didn't have a horrible original meaning, the fact that sucks is so overused in conversation is reason enough to kill it dead.  Please.  Oh, and the word "dude" as well. 

Ian Bowman's picture
Ian Bowman February 24, 2012 - 11:23pm

Here's mine: "Really?"

I can't stand this word and everyone uses it as a sentence. I don't know what's worse, how unoriginal "Really?" is or how mindlessly people repeat the question everywhere. The author of this blog asks, "Really?" People commenting on the blog ask, "Really?"

By saying "Really?" it's as if you're saying, "I'm so smart or from New York or European or whatever that what you are doing is unbelievable to me. In fact, I am questioning whether you exist or are instead a figmant of a retarded hallucinatory experience that sucks."

Well since you're so smart can you construct a creative alternative question? Can you come up with something funny to say that isn't stolen from Saturday Night Live?

Yes, really.

Nathalie Boisard-Beudin's picture
Nathalie Boisar... from France is reading The Scar (China Mieville) February 25, 2012 - 12:55am


It is just as bad as its first cousin, awesomesauce. They'll never make decent food together.


VeniAdVoluntatemMeam's picture
VeniAdVoluntatemMeam February 25, 2012 - 1:55am

I'd go along with most of these, although I have never heard of "awesomesauce".

Fathergetdown - I remember my siblings and I using "ginormous" as rural British kids in the eighties. That's not to say you shouldn't hate it, but it's not an internet-related Johnny-come-lately like the other words you mention (which I agree with).

"Literally" is my favourite.

"I literally died laughing!"

"She had legs literally up to her armpits!"

It does give rise to some great mental images.

Kari Frazier's picture
Kari Frazier February 25, 2012 - 2:54am

The practice of shortening words needs to be gotten rid of! Like "schedge" instead of "schedule." It bugs me to no end!