The Worst New Words of 2014

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Does the birth of YOLO signal the destruction of society?
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Remember those glorious days, back when we didn't say things like "wearables" or know the meaning of "YOLO"?

Every year, new words take off and old ones die. Some words are preposterous, and some might actually make sense. Have you stayed on top of this year's newest words? Don't worry if you haven't—we have someone here to give us a vocabulary lesson.

Ben Schott is the author of the "Jargonator" column in Inc. Magazine. He weighs in on the best and worst new words of 2014, and shares his least favorite in the list below. 

The Most Ridiculous Words of 2014

“Active nutrition” is “sports nutrition” for people who don’t exercise. This seems to involve selling sport-themed snack bars, chews, gels, and “ready to drink” beverages to the folks who order Diet Coke (0 calories) with their Big Mac and fries (760 calories). In other words: Genius.

Computer code written in the full knowledge that, if successful, it will be discarded and supplanted. This usefully empowers coders to consider future changes as they work. It’s also how I describe my New Year’s resolutions—which are as good as abandoned when pledged.

Because “just 1.6 percent of developers generate most of the app store revenue … as many as 98.4 percent of mobile app developers may be living below the app poverty line.” The “app poverty line” is similar to the regular poverty line. Except that it costs $1.99, constantly crashes, drains your battery, and demands to be updated every 36 hours.

“People conversing directly with brands via bots.” Yup. Normal human beings voluntarily interacting with “chat bots” programmed to interact like a friend … but a friend who represents the advertising interests of a brand. Come to think of it, it’s rather like striking up a conversation with someone who tells you, “I’m in P.R.”

Airline code for “increasing capacity without increasing fleets.” This profit-maximizing magic is achieved in two ways: replacing smaller planes with larger ones, and (sneaky, sneaky) adding extra seats to existing vessels. We are promised that “thinner seat” technology will ensure no reduction in legroom or comfort. But you don’t need to be a wordsmith to spot the similarity between gauging and gouging.

"Delivering a consistent and seamless [banking] experience across various touch points.” A.K.A. confirming you’re broke on a variety of technologies you can ill-afford.

When the act of monitoring a behavior becomes distractingly obsessional. The term relates specifically to our unhealthy preoccupation with the data collected by fitness trackers. You know – those sporty wristbands that count every step you take, every move you make, every smile you fake, every claim you stake, every bond you break. Oh, wow, I see what they mean about distraction.

A “family firm that has invited members of a second family into senior positions.” As social structures evolve, family businesses are increasingly incorporating step-relations and in-laws into management. A classic example of the “blended family business” is, apparently, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Which may or may not be a selling point.