US & Canada

'Twerking', 'selfie' and 'hashtag' on list of annoying words

Barack Obama and David Cameron pose for a selfie picture with Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt in Johannesburg (December 10, 2013)
Image caption Did Michelle Obama nominate "selfie?"

Word-watchers at a US college have released their annual list of words that should be banned, with "selfie", "twerking" and "hashtag" coming top.

Lake Superior State University (LSSU) collected suggestions from members of the public for its 39th annual list.

It recommends the words be "banished from the Queen's English" because of misuse, overuse or just being useless.

Last year it tried to ban expressions including "double down", "bucket list" and "YOLO" (you only live once).

For LSSU's 2014 list, "selfie" received the most nominations.

The term, which refers to a self-portrait photo, was named word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries only last month.

"Put the smartphone away. Nobody cares about you," wrote one member of the public, identified only as David from Wisconsin.

Josh from Arizona asked: "Why can't we have more selflessies?"

Image caption Miley Cyrus twerking: Nothing to do with the Twittersphere, it turns out

"Twerk" (a raunchy dance move) similarly attracts LSSU's opprobrium, even though it was also shortlisted by Oxford Dictionaries.

"Twerking has brought us to a new low in our lexicon," wrote Lisa, a contributor from New York.

The college's vocabulists also lamented the rise of "hashtag" and "Twittersphere", terms from social media that have seeped into everyday speech.

Combination words using variations of -mageddon or -pocalypse, such as "snowpocalypse" or "budgetmageddon", also ended up on the forbidden list.

It is not clear whether the US college's roster will be a game-changer (an expression LSSU tried to ban in 2009).

Last year's banned words remain stubbornly resilient in usage. And many of the terms banned in recent years, recorded on the complete list, such as angst, 24/7, no-brainer and spoiler alert, continue to flourish.

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