Twenty Phrases to Stop Using in 2014


Josh Bowman is sick of you saying “hashtag”. What’s on your list?

I’m like Buzzfeed, only poor!

  1. “Artisanal” – Artisinal bread is just bread. Artisanal pickles are just pickles. There was a time when everything was artisanal, because we didn’t have KitchenAid stand mixers. Now, it’s an obnoxious and unnecessary way to describe food.
  2. “Nailed It” – You are bad at things. Got it.
  3. “I can’t/I can’t even” – When you write this phrase alongside a picture or a link, guess what? You can. And you just did!
  4. “Picture or it didn’t happen” – This is the extent of internet sleuthing. “Oh, he has a picture? Case closed then.” We are all the worst kinds of journalist.
  5. “Rob Ford” – If I never hear his name again, it will be too soon.
  6. “Hashtag (word)” – I get that we use hashtags when we Tweet twitterses, but there is no need to say it in person. Because it doesn’t make sense. Because there’s no logarithm that tracks dumb things you say so that you can see if other people also said related dumb things.
  7. “Minecraft (movie) Parody/Music Video” – I don’t understand it, and I don’t like it.
  8. “Twerk” – I think this goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. This is the worst kind of appropriation.
  9. “Trap” – See above. It can take about a decade for a complicated and original musical form to be cutting edge, then regionally popular, then adopted by popular producers, then mainstream, then over-played, then murdered and buried in the backyard. See: electro.
  10. “Little Monsters/Beliebers/Barbies” – Is your identity defined by liking the flavour of the month pop artist? Just be a person.
  11. “Shaming” – A few problems with this. First of all, it is a dangerous precedent to pass judgement when you don’t have all the facts (which is sort of the definition of the internet, but anyway). Secondly, are we living in the Middle Ages? We banished public stocks for a reason.
  12. “Dick pics” – I don’t get it. Why do men (including smart, wealthy, powerful men who should know better) take pictures of their weiners and send them around to random women. Why? Is this normal now? What the hell??
  13. “Obamacare” – Obama is leaving office. When he is gone, it will just be healthcare. Which is what we have in Canada. We like socialized healthcare because we don’t like dying for no reason.
  14. “Swag” – This isn’t all that new, but I hate this word. I should clarify…I hate this word when said by young rich white pop stars. Bragging about things you don’t need but have lots of is a shitty thing to do. I know I’m an old guy now (in my 30’s, yikes!), but wasn’t there a time when we loved our musicians for being honest, and having integrity, and being anti-establishment, and standing up for civil rights and against war, and…hello? Are you…are you still there?
  15. “Phenomenology” – Bla bla continental philosophy bla bla studying how we experience our world bla bla intentionality…can we please move on?
  16. “Foodie – “Hey, what’s a foodie anyway?” “Well, it’s like…a person who likes food.” “Oh. I like food. I mean…doesn’t everybody like food?” “Yes, but a foodie…like…really likes food. Fancy food. And they go to a lot of restaurants.” “I go to restaurants. There’s this Chinese place nearby, and I order Pizza Hut sometimes and…” “No, they go to…expensive…trendy restaurants.” “Right. Foodie just means rich person with a lot of time on their hands, doesn’t it?” “….yes.”
  17. “The” – I would just like to see people try to construct sentences without using “the”.
  18. “Epic” – Let’s reserve this word for Michael Bay films. Which are so totally, awesomely epic and have sweet explosions and hot babes.
  19. “Chris Hadfield” – Wait, how did this get on here? He’s awesome! Always talk about Chris Hadfield! Always!!!
  20. “Global warming doesn’t exist” – It does, and it will kill us all.


Lead photo: Flickr LicenseAttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by misspixels

About Josh Bowman

Josh Bowman is a professional fundraiser, story-teller, comedian, and blogger. He has worked and consulted in Vancouver, New York, and now Toronto for almost a decade. Josh improvises around Toronto, including regular shows with Opening Night Theatre, and also blogs for the Huffington Post. You can email Josh here.. If you want to know more about Josh, check this post and this post out first.


  1. I think the term “awesome-sauce” is absolutely ridiculous.

  2. It’s not clear whether it’s the words or the phenomena you disapprove of in some instances. “Dick pics” – presumably, I’d have thought, what you object to is the fact that it happens, not that there’s a word for it. Same with “shaming” or is it? Because “shaming” seems to be a neologism, and it’s proved a quite useful one to make the act of being judgemental something more actively harmful, and doesn’t give status to the judger. When you say “people are judging me” you’re still offering them a loftier position, in a sense, but when you say “people are shaming me”, you’re acknowledging that far from having a loftier position they’re actually passing the buck of feeling bad onto somebody else. By using the word “shaming” we’ve started to define “judging” as an abusive behaviour, and for that reason I think the word “shaming” has proved quite useful; unless you think it’s not useful, because it exonerates one from all peer-imposed guilt. We could have a debate on that word alone.

    As regards hashtag, a friend of mine was in a café and reported that he liked the piece of music that was playing – he asked the waitress what it was, so she went off to look at the CD case – “It’s Stealth Mass in F HASHTAG Minor,” she said, “by Apollo 440.” Not F Sharp Minor then?

    “Amazeballs” really gripes to me. What are you doing there? It means amazing right? So just say amazing. Have you made it funnier by including the word “balls” – no, because “balls” does not sound like “zing” even remotely; it’s not a pun, it’s not clever, it’s just the word “balls” included for no reason whatsoever.

  3. Nice list. No argument with any of your proposals for word banishment.

    I’d add: “utilize.” Use is a perfectly acceptable one syllable word.

  4. Thank you for giving “artisanal” the number one spot.

  5. Totally agree with “hashtag” and will add “selfies”

  6. Mostly_123 says:

    #18 “Epic” —
    “Shogun” was epic,
    “Godfather” was epic.
    Michael Bay and his craft are not epics.
    Michael Bay films should not get dibs on the word ‘Epic’ (with the possible exception of sentences containing the words ‘budget’ and/or ‘misfire’ in close proximity to it- I’m looking at you, “Pearl Harbor”). Michael Bay made a movie about some guys going into space- Chris Hadfield actually went into space, and made movies about it- who’s ‘epic’ now?

  7. and may I add Josh, the end of lists in articles……. if I see another; 17 ways to….. the best 5…… etc etc. But thoughtful piece – thanks.

  8. Theorema Egregium says:

    Foodies? Weren’t they called Gourmets, once upon a time? Or is a real Foodie characterized by their obsession of making smart phone photos of their food and putting them on facebook?

  9. I may blaspheme here, being a blogger myself, but I hate hate hate hate the word “brand.” I don’t pursue sponsorships, so I don’t do a lot of dealing with brands, but I think it should be removed from our language unless you are branding cattle.

  10. A few more:

    1) Right size – you mean send people home to lose everything they have?
    2) Just sayin – if you need to apologize in advance, just don’t.
    3) Teachable moment – the need to point it out says it won’t be learned.
    4) Minimum viable product – yeah, that will get my loyalty.
    5) Quantitative easing – ask 5 people at random to tell you what it means.
    6) Reach across the aisle – how about Do Your Job and Govern Responsibly?
    7) Sarah Palin – please just disappear into Alaskan folklore, you are a mindless sideshow.

  11. OMG this is so cool, but WTF, how come ‘transparency’ missed the list? 🙂 lmao


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