Which Word Should Be Banned in 2015?

Time magazine has an annual “what word would you most like to see disappear?” feature. This is its fourth annual one. It gives a list of Horrible Words for people to vote on. Guess what’s in there. Go on, guess.


If you hear that word one more time, you will definitely cringe. You may exhale pointedly. And you might even seek out the nearest the pair of chopsticks and thrust them through your own eardrums like straws through plastic lids. What word is this? You tell us.

For TIME’s fourth annual word banishment poll, we’re asking readers to vote another word off the island, following previous castoffs OMG, YOLO and twerk. Cast your vote, encourage your friends to share their curmudgeonly angst and we’ll announce the results next week on Nov. 19.

If you need help deciding (or a little background on the words), see our blurbs below the poll, in which we’ve channeled the type of person who would like to see each nominee launched into the deepest, darkest, most hopeless eternity from whence there is no salvation nor return.

All the other words are either trendy slang or jargon or both, with the single exception of “kale” – which is a trendy vegetable rather than a trendy word. Slang, jargon, slang, jargon, slang, kale, jargon – oh yes and that word for the equal rights of women, yes by all means let’s get rid of that word.

Here’s a word we won’t be getting rid of any time soon.



  1. Dan says

    Removing the word “feminist” is actually winning by a lot. It would be nice it we could get some people to vote for something else (I just voted for “obvi”.)

  2. tecolata says


    They are not pro life. They are not in favor of saving lives of pregnant women, babies, children, the impoverished, the sick. They do not campaign against war or the death penalty.

    They are pro punishing women for sex.

  3. Bernard Bumner says

    Aside from the utter stupidity of wanting to ban words, the ridiculousness of being irritated by an innocuous vegetable name, and the lazy, smug, pettiness of disliking the word feminist, I would also like to point out that many of those “words” are phrases.

    I just don’t know what TIME think they’re doing. Is this meant to inspire debate on the relative merits of “basic” versus “disrupt” – aesthetically or with respect to utility? Are we simply meant to unburden ourselves of the undoubtedly universal collective rage that “turnt” inspires? Is this the line in sand which says we must start afresh in our quest to satisfactorily give name to brassicas without cause deep offence?

  4. Radioactive Elephant says

    And of course they start their reasoning with “You have nothing against feminism itself, but…”

  5. sonofrojblake says

    You have nothing against feminism itself

    Sure you don’t.

    , but when did it become a thing that every celebrity had to state their position on whether this word applies to them, like some politician declaring a party? Let’s stick to the issues and quit throwing this label around like ticker tape at a Susan B. Anthony parade.

    Sure, let’s stick to the issues and stop, y’know, talking about it.

    Hang on, what?

  6. RJW says

    I don’t care whether or not ‘nuanced’ is on the list, it must be eliminated, or at least rationed. It’s used so often by Islamic apologists, as in ‘a nuanced understanding of Islam’.

    The incorrect use of phrases and words should also be banned—particularly ‘refute’ and ‘begging the question’.

  7. Bernard Bumner says

    I suspect you’re not entirely serious, but I suppose there is a serious point to be made.

    As irksome as it may be to you or I, language evolves through (mis)use. The more useful sense of begging the question is sadly lost to common usage.

    Banning words and novel usage will diminish or kill a language.

  8. says

    “kale” ? Seriously?

    On an unrelated note, Andrew Sullivan actually posted my scathing email to him as his “Dissent of the day” in order to respond to (parts of) it at length, and said that he’ll stop using “social justice warrior” as a perjorative. So, there’s that.

  9. RJW says

    @12 Bernard Bumner,

    Yes, one generation’s bad grammar is the next generation’s standard English.
    Luckily English doesn’t have an equivalent to the monumentally pompous French Academy, the French are fighting a losing battle against English anyway, they should just surrender.

  10. Ed says

    I voted for “influencer.” It sounds like something that would only be said by the most dull, unimaginative bureaucrat. Or a hokey corporate motivational speaker or a sleazy self help program leader.

    “I’m an influencer and you can be one, too, with my two week program!”

    Or George W. “I used to be the Decider. Now I’m the Influencer.”

  11. Trebuchet says

    I wouldn’t mind seeing “feminism” go away. But only when there’s no further need for it. No time soon, I guess.

  12. Latverian Diplomat says

    On the plus side (I guess) OMG and twerk didn’t go anywhere. YOLO may still be out there, I never saw it much even when it was “hot” but it was always kind of faddish anyway, I think.

    Taking on something that’s not a recent coinage is a huge blunder. TIME is far closer to extinction than Feminism ever could be.

  13. Brony says

    There is “good” news. Or rather informative news that makes you feel a bit better about people, but worse about the sort of people make things harder. This poll has been manipulated by 4chan.

    I’ve seen them do this before and it was legitimately funny the last time (unless “marble cake” has an objectionable hidden meaning). At least they did not make it Kim Jung Ill, or Rick Astley, both of whom were popular among the chan crowd at the time (actually Astley would have been great).

  14. says

    I hadn’t realised there was anything trendy about kale; I’ve eaten it all my life.

    But do those who want to ban the word “feminist” realise the consequences of doing so? It seems somewhat stupid to want to ban a noun simply because you don’t like what it refers to.

  15. sumdum says

    @10 They didn’t think he was the bomb, they choose who has had the most influence on the world in that year and you can’t deny that fact.

  16. carbonfox says

    Nathaniel @25,

    Time’s rationale for “banning” “bossy” is actually pretty similar to what you said:

    bossy: You are leaning in all over the place. If Sheryl wants a word banned, then we best get banning.

    From the linked site (banbossy.com):

    When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy.” Words like bossy send a message: don’t raise your hand or speak up. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys—a trend that continues into adulthood. Together we can encourage girls to lead.

    Which leads me to wonder…how can Time seriously suggest that we ban “feminism”, while simultaneously suggesting that we ban “bossy” for feminist reasons?

  17. Dunc says

    I assumed that they included “bossy” as a kind of back-handed “here’s why we included ‘feminist'” pseudo-joke. But I may be reading too much into it…

  18. OlliP says

    I have also considered the possibility that Time doesn’t actually mean to be anti-feminist, but is just tired of the word. The candidate words (and pharses) on the list could have been chosen without thinking of their content. In this case the depth of thought and level of journalism at Time is at “does this word sound cool”. I believe I do not have need for this kind of journalism, as I have been looking for deeper meaning in the texts that I read since I learned to read.

  19. anbheal says

    Well, they say Henry Booth Luce published two magazines, “Life for people who can’t read, and Time for people who can’t think”. And let’s not forget that they serve up Camille “No Such Thing As Rape” Paglia as their in-house expert on gender issues.

    Funny how they didn’t offer up Libertarian or TeaParty or Dominionist or Creationist in their options. But say, maybe next year they’ll give us the opportunity to ban “Occupy” or “Civil Rights”!!

  20. watry says

    I realize I’m super late to this, but I think it’s still worth pointing out.

    Almost all the words on that list are associated with and primarily used by young women.

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