"Fiscal cliff" and "spoiler alert" are among the words and phrases that have landed on the 38th annual List of Words to be Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness as decreed by Michigan Lake Superior State University.

Other top banished words and phrases include:

  • Bucket list.
  • Double down.
  • Trending.
  • Superfood.
  • Boneless wings.
  • Guru.
  • Job creators and job creation.
  • Passion and passionate.
  • YOLO.

Released annually, in tongue-in-cheek fashion, the list contains words or phrases nominated by people from all over the world.

"Fiscal cliff" was the most-nominated due to what the school says is overuse by the media when describing the U.S. federal tax increases and spending cuts that will come into play if Congress doesn't come to agreement on how to deal with a set of tax cuts, which expire in 2013.


Bucket list was one of about 100 new additions in the 11th edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary in 2012. It's a person's 'before I die to-do list.'

"You can't turn on the news without hearing this," opined Christopher Loiselle of Midland, Mich.

The term is used to describe what financial commentators are deeming an economic calamity once those tax cuts expire, at the same time that a payroll tax cut is set to end, which will mean a two-per-cent tax hike for all salaried workers. Other tax breaks on things like the alternative minimum tax and the unemployment extension kick in, just as the first round of taxes related to President Obama's health-care plan become law.

"Spoiler alert" came in second. The words are used to warn readers or viewers about an upcoming plot point in a film or TV show.  According to one of the nominators, Joseph Foly of Fremont., Calif., the phrase is "used as an obnoxious way to show one has trivial information and is about to use it, no matter what."

"Bucket list" soon became popular after a 2007 movie of the same name starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson came out.  In it, two men who meet in a cancer ward decide to cross off their life's "to do" list before they kick the bucket, so to speak.

Spokesman Tom Pink said the school has now "banished" a total of 900 words or phrases with nominations mostly coming through the university's Facebook page.

With social media being so prominent these days, Pink said it's no surprise that "YOLO" made the list — stands for "You Only Live Once" in texting language.

"The list surprises me in one way or another every year," said Pink.

With files from The Associated Press