Own a rock in the middle of the riverbed. River Omulevka. Yakutia. Russia.

Announcing war on the word ‘outlier’

The use of the word “outlier” has been condemned, and continued use will result in stiff penalties.

When did the word “outlier” become a thing, and why? It’s such a lame word. But it’s enjoying a tremendous vogue, and it must be stopped.

It’s one of those words that make writers look smart. It looks kind of French – how even do you pronounce it?

It’s everywhere. Here is a list compiled by a committee of qualified experts.



Huffington Post

Canada is an outlier.


The Hindu

India is not an outlier.


Mediawatch, RNZ

Is New Zealand an outlier?



Amazon is an outlier.



On melancholic days, it’s not hard to see myself as the incredible disappearing woman, an outlier.


Marc Hinton, Stuff.co.nz

Highly respected ESPN NBA analyst Zach Lowe even suggested Steven Adams’ outstanding play in the interior was creating an outlier in the NBA’s inexorable move to small ball.



The Halcombe fire brigade in the Manawatu is an outlier.


New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics

The infaulted outlier of Upper Triassic rocks in the upper Eglinton Valley can be placed in the Taringatura Group. [This use has been ruled as admissible.]


NZ Herald business section

“So in that sense New Zealand is looking like quite the outlier because we continue to push on,” says JB Were’s chief investment officer Bernard Doyle.


NZ Herald business section

Financial Markets Authority chief executive Rob Everett, in his keynote speech, said New Zealand was a bit of an outlier in the world.


Greg Bruce, Canvas

New Zealand’s second-biggest-selling book of 2010 was the global publishing phenomenon The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which sold 51,440 copies. The biggest seller was Annabel Langbein’s The Free Range Cook, which sold a frankly absurd 111,621 copies that year.

That is no trivial difference, but nor is it an outlier when it comes to Langbein’s recent books.


New York Times

Donald Trump is an outlier in political science.


The New Yorker

How did such a political outlier become the front-runner for the GOP nomination?



Trump’s candidacy makes the 2016 election a unique outlier in presidential history.


New York magazine

Donald Trump is not an outlier.

 The word “outlier” is hereby banned for the remainder of August. The team of qualified experts has decreed that anyone who uses the word “outlier” during the next 28 days will be called out as a goose.


UPDATE, August 4: Jason Wong at interest.co.nz writes, “Australian bonds were an outlier yesterday.” Goose!

UPDATE, August 5: Donna Chisholm, writing about melanomas and that at the Listener, interviews Dr Amanda Oakley, a Waikato dermatologist:  “Australian figures suggest some GPs there are removing 20-100 benign lesions for every melanoma. A nationwide review hasn’t been done here, but Canterbury GPs results are audited and those with ‘outlier‘ ratios are ‘gently advised they need upskilling’, says Oakley.” Goose! (Amanda, not Donna; quoting the word has been ruled as admissible, just.)  

UPDATE, August 6: Jamie Troughton writes about Olympic kayakers Mike Dawson and Joe Clarke for Stuff, “Unlike Clarke, 29-year-old Dawson was raised on flood-swollen Bay of Plenty creeks and regular runs over Huka Falls.  He’s carved a decade-long career on the canoe slalom circuit as an outlier; that crazy Kiwi who turns up to world cup races on a diet of heavy rapids and expedition paddling.” Goose!

UPDATE, August 6: The team of qualified experts thanks reader Ira Heyder for a second instance of “outlier” abuser Greg Bruce, who reviews Monday Wholefoods in Canvas, thus: “Zanna told me of her theory that wholefood-type places frequently overdo flavours to make up for their lack of regard for sugar. I have no real opinion on that, but if she’s right, Mondays is an outlier.” Goose!

UPDATE, August 7: An entity calling itself “Newshub digital staff” writes, “Mr Assange also spoke at length about outlier political movements.” Goose(s)!

UPDATE, August 8: Wellington journalist Rob Hosking gives notice that he has used the word “outlier” in a story to be published later this week. Goose in waiting!

UPDATE, August 9: A sub-editor at Business Insider Australia headlines a story by Elena Holodny, “The US is a big outlier when it comes to income inequality.” Sub-goose!

UPDATE, August 10: Hamish Fletcher at the NZ Herald writes, “Sky’s lawyer Sir Julian Miles described Fairfax as ‘an outlier‘ .” Sir Goose!

UPDATE, August 11: A terrifically boring op-ed thing by Phil Smith for Radio New Zealand includes not one but two offences: “This was powerfully demonstrated by Boykoff and Boykoff, who analysed US media coverage of climate science and found a “balance of the outliers“, which can result in small outlier groups having their views hugely amplified.” Double goose!

UPDATE, August 12: Why is business journalism so fond of it? Dene Mackenzie writes in the Otago Daily Times, “The New Zealand central bank was already an outlier with its 2.25% OCR.” Goose!

UPDATE, September 3: Thanks to our campaign of namin’ and shamin’, the word “outlier” disappeared from view for the remainder of August – until it reappeared, twice, right at the close of the month, no doubt when the authors thought no one would be looking. We looked. We saw this, on August 28, at the Manawatu Standard, by either Aaron Goile or Andrew Voerman (they shared a byline): “Where our Olympians went to school lines up neatly with where New Zealanders live, give or take a few percentage points here and there. The biggest outlier appears to be the Bay of Plenty.” And this, on August 31,  by Andrew Alderson in the New Zealand Herald: A look at the strike rate column of the 13 players to take more than 400 test wickets reveals he is an outlier.” Aaron or Andrew, and the other Andrew: y’all are a goose!


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