Cookie banner

This site uses cookies. Select "Block all non-essential cookies" to only allow cookies necessary to display content and enable core site features. Select "Accept all cookies" to also personalize your experience on the site with ads and partner content tailored to your interests, and to allow us to measure the effectiveness of our service.

To learn more, review our Cookie Policy, Privacy Notice and Terms of Use.

clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The New Yorker Determines "Slacks" To Be Most Useless Word in the English Language, Fashion Editors Hang Their Heads in Despair

A sad day for slacks
A sad day for slacks

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

Last week, the New Yorker's Culture Desk blog debuted “Questioningly,” a Twitter-based game show wherein readers were asked to propose one word from the English language that should be eliminated. Among contenders like "awesome," "literally," and "moist," two words near and dear to the hearts of fashion editors were put on the chopping block. Apparently, there are those who believe that “trousers” and “slacks" have overstayed their welcome in the American lexicon. And the New Yorker editors agree! They decided that of all the words submitted for elimination, they would pick either "slacks" or "trousers" for official banning.

Had we known about this earlier, we would have issued a formal plea to the New Yorker editors to consider the consequences of their actions, and it would have gone something like this:

Dear Culture Desk editors:
Your friends in fashion editorial rely heavily on the two words you are prepared to so carelessly cast aside. Do you know how many times a day we would be forced to say the word "pants" if you take away our synonyms? Menswear writers, especially, would suffer (your Conde Nast compatriots at GQ have apparently used the term "slacks" more than 920,000 times, if Google can be trusted.) But women's fashion, too, relies on these options. Just this month, Andre Leon Talley referred to the "incredible skirts over trousers at Marc Jacobs' spectacular show for Louis Vuitton" in the May issue of Vogue. So please, take a moment to imagine the landscape of fashion copy with two fewer synonyms for the word "pants" available to writers. No good can come of this, for editors and readers, alike.


But sadly, the damage has already been done. The New Yorker editors in question settled on "slacks" as the noun worthy of elimination—it was was apparently suggested by multiple entrants—and so it is done. The word will be written on a piece of paper, crumpled, and thrown away, and also banned from for a period of one week.

You will still find it in use here on Racked, however. And there's nothing the New Yorker can do to stop us.
· Words Came In, Marked For Death... [New Yorker]