15 Words and Phrases We Should Retire in 2019

Dec 19, 2018 Samantha McGarry

I think about words and storytelling a lot and 2018 was a year that underscored how much words matter. If you are a word nerd, like me, you’ve probably read the Words That Matter 2018 essays on Medium. This series of well-crafted contributed posts forces you to reflect on the most visceral themes that defined 2018 from rage, trauma and f*ck to trust, truth and listen.  

2018 also showed us that words have consequences. Too many words coming at you not only create noise but also raises our collective blood pressure. Some people tune out; others take action. Since words are not the only mechanism for communication, this year, InkHouse’s Project Curiosity explored how art, music and the use of space and science complement words, creating more profound opportunities for storytelling and making connections.

Something else that stuck with me recently: This article listing 42 Signs You Might Need a Presentation Upgrade is a must read, but it was #42 that struck me most. It asks, “Are you doing more storytelling than story asking?” Which begs the question: do we need to retire the word “storytelling?” As communicators, should we be focusing more on being gatherers of, and listeners to, the stories of others instead of always telling our own?

The words we chose to retire in 2019 are a reflection of the year that was, for better or worse. By retiring these words, we hope they’ll be replaced with words that are articulate and optimistic, more connective and less controversial. Thanks to all my industry colleagues, friends and family who offered their input.

  1. Enablement (heralded as the worst buzzword of 2018 by Inc.)
  2. Enemy of the people
  3. Bruh
  4. Toxic (the Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year)
  5. Thoughts and prayers
  6. Wheelhouse
  7. Collusion
  8. Brexit
  9. Lit
  10. Throw shade
  11. Bandwidth (one of four business buzzwords you gotta quit, apparently)
  12. Asking for a friend
  13. Stan (verb, not noun, more here)
  14. Bullet point
  15. Thank you for coming to my TED talk

P.S. I had the gall to suggest on the office Slack channel that we retire the word y’all. It caused quite a stir. I stand by my suggestion but, then again, I’m a Brit so what do I know?

P.P.S. Word nerds, rejoice! Here are links to the last eight years of our Words To Retire blog posts.


Topics: Writing, 2018, Trends, Words to retire
Samantha McGarry

Samantha is the executive vice president of Story Crafting at Inkhouse. Her curiosity for business and technology - combined with her love of semantics and communication - has translated into a 20+ year career in PR.

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