In an earlier post on TFP about banning the word “robust” from a conference called Internet Librarian, I had imagined the excessive use of the word was a local phenomenon. It turns out that “robust” constitutes a kind of long-term cultural blip. Bruce Reed in Slate, for example, provides links to a number of sources where “robust” has become robust, though his focus is “robust” as a buzzword in health care reform. However, even five years ago, another author grumbled about the overuse of “robust” by researchers in hematology. This blip in the usage of a particular word deserves study by someone who might be able to provide an explanation, someone like a David Crystal.
Maybe one explanation is that “robust” is blowin’ up: