“Bundle of rights” named Worst Words of 2023

Plain English Foundation

Plain English Foundation has chosen “a bundle of contractual rights” as its worst words of 2023. This is the phrase Qantas came up with to avoid responsibility for selling cancelled flights. The airline argued it does not actually sell flights, just the right to fly … eventually.

Every year, the Foundation gathers dozens of examples of weasel words and phrases like this one. Contenders for the worst words of the year include political spin, corporate gobbledegook and everything in between.

This year, the people’s choice award went to “rapid unscheduled disassembly”. Not sure what that means? It is the phrase SpaceX used to describe the midair explosion of their spacecraft, and to reduce a dangerous, damage-causing event to a technicality.

This year also saw OceanGate (the makers of the Titan submarine) call their passengers “mission specialists”. This phrase identifies passengers as crew, which helped the company to avoid safety requirements and limit their liability for the submarine implosion.

“Whether they are taking you up, down, or all around the world, these companies have 1 thing in common”, said plain language expert, Greg Moriarty. “They’re all using technical or legal language to try to bamboozle the public and avoid responsibility.”

And corporations aren’t the only ones that like a bit of spin. This year the UK Home Secretary got in hot water for pretending that homelessness was a “lifestyle choice”. Closer to home, a Victorian government agency announced that it was merely going to “retire” public housing buildings, a pretty euphemism for demolish.

Aside from spin, the Foundation is always on the lookout for new buzzwords, jargon and Frankenwords. This year “feedforward” (a sensitive replacement for ‘feedback’) and “solutioning” (what we used to call ‘problem-solving’) took the cake for most unnecessary new words. While “autobesity” and “resenteeism” just left us confused.

The Foundation’s 2023 list is rounded out with real estate gobbledegook and yet another celebrity non-apology. The full shortlist of the Worst Words of 2023 is attached.

Key Facts:

“Bundle of rights” named Worst Words of 2023.

“Rapid unscheduled disassembly” wins people’s choice award.

/Public Release.