What words would you like to see removed from our vocabularies, if not our dictionaries?
Recently we asked listeners what words they were tired of and wanted removed from the dictionary.
The use of ‚Äúliterally‚ÄĚ in phrases such as ‚ÄúI literally laughed my head off!‚ÄĚ got a number of votes. One of our listeners hated the use of the word ‚Äúimpact‚ÄĚ as a verb, as in ‚Äúthe debate impacted the vote.‚ÄĚ
We asked Steve Kleinedler, executive editor of the American Heritage Dictionary for his thoughts.
He told Here & Now‚Äôs Robin Young that the dictionary often addresses those complaints in their usage notes, but in the case of the word impact, ‚Äúit has a longstanding, decades, decades long use as a verb‚Ä¶ Language changes over time, and this is one where the ship has sailed.‚ÄĚ
There‚Äôs a reason dictionaries can be reluctant to remove words, once they‚Äôre on the books, Steve said. Back in the late ‚Äô90s, he suggested the American Heritage Dictionary remove what appeared to be an obsolete word relating to punch card technology: chad.
‚ÄúAfter some discussion, the editors realized it‚Äôs still used in certain jurisdictions ‚Äď in voting booths, for example ‚Äď and based on that, we thought, ‚ÄėOkay, we‚Äôll keep it in,‚Äô‚ÄĚ Steve said. ‚ÄúAnd then a year later, of course, in 2000, the word chad rose to the top of everyone‚Äôs consciousness in a very large way. So it‚Äôs an example of, while even if we think something might be on its way out, you really want to take caution before you start deleting things willy nilly.‚ÄĚ
The catchphrases that people are tired of, such as ‚ÄúYOLO,‚ÄĚ standing for ‚Äúyou only live once,‚ÄĚ tend not to make it into the dictionary in the first place, Steve said, since editors feel that they are ephemeral and might die out.
Steve also told us about the words the American Heritage Dictionary added this year. Several came from the food world, including the condiment ‚ÄúSriracha.‚ÄĚ