At the end of every year Lake Superior State University issues its “List of Words to Be Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness”. As a list created by popular selection, it may not include the best choices, but they are probably the words that people are most sick of hearing. I’m sick of some of them, too, others, well, “not so much” (a phrase on the list).
However, the phrase I despise more than any other wasn’t on the list: “On the ground”. As opposed to what, exactly? In the air? Under water? Hovering gently like a balloon? The phrase is not just banal and meaningless, it’s way too cutesy for what are often serious subjects.
One of the early uses of the phrase was about troops: “Boots on the ground”. That’s now used in non-military contexts, and the simpler “on the ground” is used constantly, more often than not when a simple word like “there” would be enough.
I guess what annoys me so much about phrases like this is that it’s mere puffery, big phrases for things that don’t need or deserve it. Obviously, I sometimes use phrases like that, too; I’m not immune to popular culture influences.
Because the phrase wasn’t on the list, I nominated it. If there’s a word or phrase you’re sick of hearing, you can nominate it for next year’s list. And be sure to let me know what your choice is, too. If we all, um, ban together it could be a real “game changer”.