The most annoying word or phrase of 2015 in casual conversation is “whatever,” according to the Marist College annual poll.
“Whatever” has now grabbed top honors (43 percent this year and last) for the seventh consecutive year in the survey. The staying power of “whatever” could be because it seems like a very dismissive, if not rude, way to end a discussion. “Whatever” may have entered the popular culture after the 1995 comedy film Clueless, which starred Alicia Silverstone and Stacey Dash.
“Regardless of age, race, gender, region of residence, income, or level of education, ‘whatever’ is thought to be the most bothersome word in casual conversation today,” Marist explained about the findings of its telephone survey of about 1,500 adults that was conducted in early December.
The rest of list contains mostly newcomers, however. Finishing in second to sixth place, respectively, are “no offense, but,” “like,” “no worries,” “huge,” and “unsure.”
“Like” was the only holdover from last year’s list of annoyances.
Along these lines, at the end of each year, since 1976, Lake Superior University publishes a list of banished words (or words that should be banished for their overuse, misuse, or excessive use).
“The school solicits public input on its website year-round to pick a list of words we can all do without,” CNN explained.
In order of which words or phrases received the most nominations for banishment at the beginning 2016, the list is as follows.
- so [when it is used as the first word of a sentence]
- conversation [when it replaces “discussion” or “debate”]
- price point
- secret sauce
- break the internet
- walk it back
- giving me life
Academics publish list of most annoying words they would like to see banned in 2016 https://t.co/aMNv6wSiIR
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) January 3, 2016
This is the year-end most annoying list compiled by London’s Metro news organization, some of which may not show up in ordinary talk on this side of the Atlantic.
- Netflix and chill
- on fleek
- hot mess
Although not included in the any of the above-referenced polling data, additional annoying/overused words that may come to mind include “absolutely” (instead of just saying “yes”), “amazing,” “basically,” and “honestly” (which tends to signal the opposite).
Certain familiar sayings do appropriately match the situation at times to be sure, but as we transition to a new year, do any of these additional words/phrases (in no particular order) that have entered the everyday lexicon get on your nerves?
- to be honest with you [immediate red flag, as with “honestly” noted above]
- no problem [instead of “you’re welcome”]
- throwing [someone] under the bus
- I mean [dropped in at the beginning of a sentence]
- my bad
- it’s all good
- you know what I’m saying
- how ya doin’
- literally [when the speaker means just the opposite]
- check all the boxes
- it is what it is
- at the end of the day
- thank you [signifying agreement with what the other person has just said]
- game on
- singing Kumbaya
- I have your back/you have my back [or other iterations of same]
- step up your/my game
- bring it
- safe space
- first time caller/long time listener or thank you for taking my call [talk radio]
- you’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts
While on the subject of annoying conversational techniques or similar pet peeves, you may very well have noticed the rampant practice of “uptalk” (officially known to linguists as “high rising terminal”). This describes the very aggravating tendency for a speaker to end a declarative sentence as if it is a question — in other words, finishing a statement with an imaginary question mark. This way of conversing apparently started with the San Fernando “Valley Girls,” but has spread like a virus across the country, if not the world, and to all genders and demographic groups.
What words or phrases do you find the most annoying and/or overused in casual, day-to-day conversation?
[Image via Shutterstock]