Banned List update: more imnecessary words and phrases. If you wouldn’t mind

The author of ‘The Banned List’ issues an emergency supplementary list of prohibitions


I haven’t banned anything for ages, being an easy-going and tolerant curmudgeon, but the time has come. The tide of cliché and jargon requires an Update to The List.

1. Imbalanced. Michael Dugher, Labour’s vice chairman, told the party’s northern regional conference on 15 March that the “so-called national recovery is weak and imbalanced”. As Russell Smith pointed out, the word is “quite imnecessary”.

2. Just saying, or just sayin’. Nominated by Rich Hadley. I don’t know why this had not been banned before. Perhaps I assumed that it would go to a corner and die quietly: some of the words and phrases on the Banned List have already disappeared. Alan Robertson wrote to me recently: “I noticed ‘haircut’ was on the list but it seems to have already vanished from the news. I will need to wait to see if it will be revived for the next European debt crisis.

3. Things being “a thing”. As in, “Is an Olympic-sized football pitch a thing?”

4. The offer, or our offer, to mean programme, manifesto, prospectus or just an assemblage of slogans. Nominated by Matt Foster.

5. Pro-tip. As in “professional tip”.

6. The likes of. Nominated, or ordered, possibly, by Lisa Markwell, my editor.

7. Since time immemorial. From the updated Washington Post list. Thanks to Niklas Manhart.

8. No-nonsense to refer to anyone from the north of England. I’m afraid I was guilty of that one. Ian Hirst reported me to the authorities.

9. To call out, meaning to call to account for a misleading claim. Ed Miliband used it in Prime Minister’s Questions, 9 July: “The Prime Minister said that waiting times in accident and emergency had gone down, but within 24 hours the House of Commons Library had called him out.”

10. Almost unbearably poignant. Used as an approving description this surprisingly common combination drives Stig Abell to distraction. The database records 14 uses in a year in national newspapers, most recently in a Mail Online feature on the Museum of Broken Relationships, on tour from Croatia:

“More [items on display] come from the heart and are at times almost unbearably poignant. ‘He was a very worried boy, in constant need of reassurance,’ writes the Parisian former owner of a set of five dice.”

The original Banned List was published by Elliott & Thompson in 2011. Updates since then have been collected on the Independent Blogs.

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