Once a year the Oxford English Dictionary releases a list of new words and/or phrases they (whoever “they” might be) have deemed acceptable enough to officially add to their fabulous book. Usually this is due to each word or phrase being used so often that the keepers of language choose to give in and accept instead of standing up and fighting against these lards of language.
Normally there is at least one entry that disturbs me, and probably you, greatly. Recent additions include “defriend, twerk, derp, selfie, bestie” and the inexplicable “c**tish, c**ty” and other derivatives of “c**t.” I was hoping the “c**t” was maybe a joke by The Onion, but I am sad to report it is real. You can see it here.
Over the past few years, while reading more and more blogs, Facebook posts, shorts stories, flash fiction, and other things, I have noticed a few words and phrases that have become quite trendy. So trendy in fact that I am countering the annual dictionary additions with words and phrases that I want stricken from regular use. Feel free to agree, disagree, and suggest your own.
1. “See what I did there?”
This is a variation of “I see what you did there.”
This phrase is usually used when writers have written something they perceive as clever. However, they realize that either A. the rest of us won’t agree upon the cleverness or B. they already know it’s not clever. If they alert you to their witty wording too obviously, they’ll seem like a tool. If they don’t alert you at all, they risk appearing stupid. The result is something so intentionally obvious that it becomes childishly funny. To them.
The earliest known origin to me was when Billy Crystal said it in When Harry Met Sally, written by Nora Ephron. A few years later, Crystal used it again when he wrote Mr. Saturday Night. It likely wasn’t the first time he stole a joke, and it won’t be the last. However, please do your best to make sure your most recent use of the phrase is also your last use of it.
2. Cross out text
This is used when someone attempts to be funny by writing two different things but crossing out the real one and leaving the one they would normally want you to believe. For example:
I got so absorbed reading a bunch of crap on Facebook getting my homework done that I never ate dinner.
When it was new, it was very funny. The first time I saw it, I laughed, no doubt. I even remember who had written it – a certain not a redhead. But now either I’m old, it’s old, or both. If you really want to be funny, try it like this instead:
I got so absorbed getting my homework done that I never ate dinner. It isn’t every day that my homework includes accepting invitations for Candy Crush, returning “pokes,” and finding out which Game of Thrones character I am most like.
3. And by ____ I mean ____
This one is very similar to the “cross out text,” it’s just a matter of relocating the cross-out text and then removing the cross-out. I’ll use the same example as in #2.
I got so absorbed in getting my homework done that I never ate dinner.
And by “getting my homework done” I mean getting lost in Facebook for an hour and a half.
Same shit, different place.
For about five minutes, this was a cute way for someone to refer to the internet using a term that might be used by one’s grandmother. To put it plain and simple – it’s not funny anymore. It hasn’t been funny since Bush was President.
5. Literary pen names
As you probably know, I’m not opposed to using a pseudonym, or “pen name.” There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. However, there is something wrong with using a name that just so happens to be the name of a well-known writer. A quick glance at my Twitter feed shows these names:
Rowland (too close to Rowling)
Wadsworth (too close to Wordsworth)
I’m sure that for one or two, it is their actual last name. Looking back, I suppose I should apologize to Margaret Atwood and Joyce Carol Oates. Sorry, ladies.
6. Someone had to say it
Yes, but it did not have to be you. This line usually appears after someone has said something they perceive as edgy, something that makes them seem as if they have a unique form of brutal honesty, which, contrary to popular belief, is a form of bullying and is (yes) brutal but (no) honest. It is used by people who want you to believe you need to mind your P’s and Q’s around them because you just never know how far they will go or what might leak out of their mouths next.
This is the equivalent of those who like to talk about how “crazy” they are, because if one is truly crazy, they don’t know they are crazy. And if one is truly “edgy,” then they will let the “edge” speak for itself. It’s like giving yourself a nickname, which is about as lame as you can get. I know a guy who gave himself the nickname “Rock.” This douche is the last guy in the world who deserves such a strong nickname. He’s a old fart with social issues so severe that sometimes he can’t even answer the phone for fear of having to talk to a stranger. The closest he comes to a “rock” is what’s in his head.
7. “If this gets into the wrong hands…”
This one is normally used in fiction, specifically science fiction or action/adventure stories when one of the good guys develops an ultimate weapon and demonstrates it for other good guys. With all due disrespect to originality, the weapon always ends up in the hands of the bad guys. Anyone who would actually write this line has no business touching a keyboard.
Speaking of something being in the wrong hands, there’s probably a fork nearby that’s in the wrong hands because I’m hungry.