LANSING, Michigan — Whether or not the US Congress acts to avoid the "fiscal cliff", the much-used phrase tops the list of words language aficionados want banned from everyday speech, according to a Michigan university's yearly roundup released on Monday.

Also making the cut for Lake Superior State University's annual list of overused, misused and generally useless terms were "kick the can down the road", "bucket list" and, it may come as no surprise, "spoiler alert".

Then there is "YOLO". "Stands for 'You Only Live Once' and used by wannabe Twitter philosophers who think they've uncovered a deep secret of life," said Brendan Cotter, of Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, in nominating the phrase for retirement.

"I only live once, so I'd prefer to be able to do it without ever seeing YOLO again," Cotter said.

The small, public university has published its annual "List of Words to be Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness" since new year's day in 1976.

It is culled mostly from nominations by English-language enthusiasts through the school's website.