DETROIT – If the media's habit of combining celebrity names didn't cause word watchers enough heartburn in 2006, the past year had plenty of other words and phrases that language purists wish had "gone missing."
Lake Superior State University on Sunday released its annual "List of Words and Phrases Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness."
The Sault Ste. Marie school in the Upper Peninsula has been compiling the list since 1976 to attract publicity. A total of 16 words or phrases were selected by a university committee from more than 4,500 nominations.
The list reads like a lexicon of popular culture.
Take "ask your doctor," the mantra of pharmaceutical commercials. The university called it "the chewable vitamin morphine of marketing."
Real estate listings were targeted for overuse of "boast." As in "master bedroom boasts his-and-her fireplaces — never 'bathroom apologizes for cracked linoleum,'" quipped Morris Conklin of Portugal.
It wasn't hard to find the phrase "gone/went missing" in 2006. "It makes 'missing' sound like a place you can visit, such as the Poconos. Is the person missing, or not?" asked Robin Dennis of Texas.
The university's word watchers had no use for "truthiness," the word popularized by Comedy Central satirist Stephen Colbert. It was selected as the word that best summed up 2006 in an online survey by dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster.
The list, which in recent years has included such gems as "show me the money, "erectile dysfunction" and "holiday tree," is closing in on its 1,000th banishment. And despite the university's vigilance, university spokesman Tom Pink said he's not aware that any dictionaries have followed its advice.
"Sometimes people write us and tell us, 'This isn't working,"' Pink said. "I tell them we need an enforcement division."