In 1977, one year after Lake Superior State University Public Relations Director W.T. (Bill) Rabe released the first “banished words list,” he said that the international reaction from the public told him, “it would go on forever.”
Forever may be stretching it, but the annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness has been going strong since New Year’s Day 1976, and shows no signs of stopping. People from around the world have nominated hundreds of words and phrases such as “you know,” “user friendly,” “at this point in time,” and “have a nice day,” to be purged from the language.
In order to gain the most media coverage possible, the Banishment List is released each year on New Year’s Day. The first list was dreamed up by Rabe and a group of friends at a New Year’s Eve party in 1975. The following day, he released the list and the rest, as they say, is history. Since then, nominations for words and expressions to be banished have been sought and accepted throughout the year. After Rabe retired in 1987, the University copyrighted the concept and continued the tradition. The popularity of the effort shows no signs of dwindling. Hundreds of nominations are received each year, and the LSSU Public Relations Office staff conducts dozens of news interviews, largely with radio stations throughout North America, and sometimes overseas, on all major networks, including Cable News Network, the Associated Press, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and more.