Words to Retire in 2023

Thomas B James
2 min readDec 1, 2022

by Thomas B. James, Esq.

Every year, I take it upon myself to publish a critique of modern language. Specifically, I create a list of words and phrases that I wish could be retired. The tradition began on Facebook, but this year I’ve decided to make the list public. And so, without further ado, here is my list of…

Words I would retire in 2023 if I were the language czar

convo (to mean conversation)

space (to mean category)

ask (as a noun)

literally (to mean figuratively)

phenomenological (to mean looking around my dorm room)

triggered (used to express disagreement)

bandwidth (to mean interest)

my (used as a possessive of truth)

phenomenological (to mean what you saw in your dorm room)

-splain (used as a combining form with man-, woman-, Canadian-, etc.)

nothingburger (to mean nothing)

myriad (to mean cornucopia)

entitlement (to mean something to which someone is not entitled)

adult (as a verb)

heartsandprayers (to mean Oy)

fascist (to mean person with whom I disagree)

feels (as a noun)

right (to mean anything that is strongly desired)

winningest (No comment.)

brain-picking (to mean something less gruesome)

awesomesauce (to mean awesome)

even (used either meaninglessly or as an undefined infinitive, as in “I can’t even”)

cute (to mean adorable)

adorable (to mean cute)

adorbs (to mean either cute or adorable)

cray-cray (to mean crazy)

-gate (as a combining form — Irangate, Elevatorgate, Pizzagate, Burgergate, Kneegate, Tubergate, etc.)

-geddon (as a combining form derived from Armageddon)

holistic (to mean weird)

freemium (as a gerund of free)

amazeballs (used outside the porn industry)

zoom (as a verb)

ideation (to mean idea)

coopetition (used for no apparent reason other than to make people named Tom see red).

I could go on, but you probably don’t have the bandwidth.

Have a tolerable 2023.



Thomas B James

Thomas James is a Cokato Minnesota attorney also known as Tom James