The year 2020 has undoubtedly been a tough one. While ‘Pandemic’ is Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year, it’s no coincidence that Benjamin Moore’s Color of the Year is Aegean Teal, which is a soothing and anxiety-free color.

Here’s the updated list of words and phrases gleaned from your responses. Wherever possible, I’ve included the author’s original commentary.

Snackable content
✅ Snacks are a tasty treat.
❌ They don’t belong in marketing lingo.
… From Laurel Carpenter

✅ Okay to use when COVID-19 has been 100% eradicated throughout the globe.
Referring to anything that smacks of 2020.
… From Jody Maier Piazza, Michelle King, Karen Korr, Cheryl Bame, and Cecilia Ramos Linton

Doing my research
✅ Fine, if you work in a university setting, consultancy, or a think tank.
When you’re really online shopping on Cyber Monday. (var. When everyday people in the comments section thinking they’re experts because they’ve done a quick Google. Listen to the experts.)
… From Katherine McCoy Rivera

✅ For Mariners “to fit with sails.”
As a synonym for “losing.”
… From Alan Brew

Very unique
✅ “Unique” means one of a kind – but very unique is just plain wrong.
  Is what your mother says when she doesn’t like the outfit you’re wearing. (var. “Now, that’s an interesting look.”)
… From Nancy Stein

Open the kimono
✅ Appropriate attire if you are in Japan.
❌  This one will get you in deep trouble, especially if you’re Harvey Weinstein or Roger Ailes.
… From Roy Sexton

Uncertain times
✅ Barely acceptable, even for journalists needing a comparison to a previous period in history.
❌ Use Grammarly if you’re really, really stuck.
From Michelle King and John Rambow

Flatten the curve
✅ Acceptable when accompanied by a data-driven infographic like you see in The New York Times, but not related to COVID.
See “uncertain times,” above.
… From Michelle King

The Rona
✅ Sorry, but this one is never okay.
Even when typed into a graphic on your Instagram.
… From Michelle King

You’re on mute
✅ Similar to your PR team’s reminder, “Remember: The mic is hot.’”
Geez. Do we need to send this professional to a Zoom class? (Y’all know who I mean!)
… From Karen Korr and Paula Zirinsky

Circle back
✅ If you don’t have a GPS in your car, then sure. Go ahead and ask the gas station attendant for directions… again.
Simply replace it with an “I’ll get back to you.” A little wordy, but at least it’s not corporate-speak.
… From Karen Korr

✅ Perfect, if you have a Master Gardener certificate.
Feh! No one in the real world uses this term, except marketers and social media influencers.
From Jen Forrester

Thought leadership
✅ Earmarked exclusively for books and articles of great significance.
This term has reached a saturation point to make it almost filler.
… From Amy Spach

Dog Whistle
Is a useful training tool – if you have a dog.
Avoid using this loaded term unless you have a dog.
… From David Thompson

A newer take on cringeworthy, which is still prevalent.
Editor’s note: This term might be too arcane at this point.
… From David Thompson

A common term when referring to a dance step.
This is an overused term that sounds good when a company doesn’t honestly believe in its new direction.
… From Judy Kalvin

Stay safe
What the sergeant says to his crew before they start their shift. (Similar to “let’s be careful out there,” if you’re old enough to remember Hill Street Blues.)
Disingenuous, in a business context, especially when signing-off in an email.
… From John Rambow

Walk back (a statement)
One of several dance moves created by Michael Jackson.
A poor attempt to explain away or disassemble a falsehood after being found out.
… From Alan Brew

Return to work
Acceptable, if you do shift work, you’re masked-up, and socially distancing.
For most professionals (who have been WFH for years), this term falls on deaf ears.
From Catherine Alman MacDonagh

[Editor’s note: Catherine added, “I had a well-liked LinkedIn post about this. I’m pretty sure it was supposed to be “return to the office,” because most of us have never worked harder!”]

And finally, the following terms from Andrew Goldberg, whom I do not know –  is the clear winner, having the most entries that genuinely need to go away:
Beyond grateful


Written by : Nancy Slome

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