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'Fiscal Cliff' Banished From Washington—Next From Language?

Don Bayley | E+ | Getty Images

"Kicking the can down the road," "fiscal cliff," and "river of debt" are just some of the words and metaphors driving the general public to distraction, according to the "List of Banished Words" published by the Lake Superior State University (LSSU).

The list of 2013's "banished words," published every year by Michigan's smallest state university since 1976, is topped by economic buzzwords which have dominated the headlines.

After the months of inescapable media frenzy and speculation leading up to a New Year's deal, voters decided "fiscal cliff" was the most annoying catchphrase of the year.

"Continually referred to as 'the so-called fiscal cliff,' followed by a definition," Randal Baker of Seabeck, Wash., told the LSSU. "How many times do we need to hear 'fiscal cliff,' let alone its definition? Please let this phrase fall off of a real cliff!"

(Read More: CEOs Pan 'Fiscal Cliff' Deal)

"You can't turn on the news without hearing this. I'm equally worried about the River of Debt and Mountain of Despair," Christopher Loiselle from Midland, Mich., wrote. Donna in New York said the word "fiscal cliff" made her "want to throw someone over a real cliff."

Despite the U.S. House of Representatives voting through a Senate-backed bill to avert around $600 billion of spending cuts and tax hikes, the government has been accused of "kicking the can down the road" as it faces further budgetary wrangles and approaches its $16.4 trillion debt ceiling in February.

"I would definitely like to kick some cans of the human variety every time I hear politicians use this phrase to describe a circumstance that hasn't gone their way," Christine Tomassini from Livonia, Mich., told the LSSU.

Apart from the more economic and prosaic phrases such as "job creation" vexing Americans, popular culture has got many squirming. Words such as "trending" popularized by Twitter and globally popular twitter feeds and "superfood" made common by food programs espousing healthy eating have made it onto the cringe list, with many votes coming from abroad too for such phrases.

(Read More: 2012's Most Overused Buzzwords)

A common theme among the entrants seems to be a dislike of pseudo-philosophy such as "Live Life to the Fullest " (on 2011's list) and "YOLO" ("You Only Live Once") or false enthusiasm, with words like "passion/passionate" getting many votes.

"[YOLO is] used by wannabe Twitter philosophers who think they've uncovered a deep secret of life… I only live once, so I'd prefer to be able to do it without ever seeing YOLO again." Brendan Cotter, from Grosse Pointe Park in Michigan said.

Andrew Foyle from Bristol in the U.K. told the LSSU that "passionate" was his banished word of choice. "Seared tuna will taste like dust swept from a station platform - until it's cooked passionately. Apparently, it's insufficient to do it ably, with skill, commitment or finesse. Passionate, be gone!" he said.

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