As 2017 begins, it’s time for the big reveal of the year-end 2016 most annoying word or phrase along with an annual more-satirical list of banished words.
The most annoying word or phrase of 2016 in casual conversation is “whatever,” according to the Marist College poll.
“Whatever” has now grabbed top irritation honors for the eighth consecutive year in the survey, although it is down from 43 percent to 38 percent year over year among respondents, and by extension, in America. 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 lexicon after the 1995 comedy film Clueless starring Alicia Silverstone and Stacey Dash.
“The slang term appeared at least four decades earlier in a 1965 episode of Bewitched, in which one character responds to another with an ‘All right, whatever,'” the Washington Post noted.
Following “whatever” are “no offense, but” (20 percent), “you know, right” and “I can’t even” tied at 14 percent, and “huge” (eight percent). Five percent couldn’t make up their mind or perhaps were clueless, as it were.
“Like” and “no worries” dropped off the list this time.
“Age matters. Nearly half of Americans 45 years of age or older, 49%, believe ‘whatever’ to be the most annoying, but among younger Americans, there is little agreement,” the New York college added.
Pollsters determined which words America finds most annoying through random landline or mobile phone interviews with about 1,000 adults conducted in early December 2016. The data has a three-point margin of error.
Parenthetically, the presidential election polls also had about the same error margin, and everyone knows how that worked out.
Separately, Lake Superior State University in Michigan has just issued its 42nd annual list of words that should theoretically be banished for misuse, overuse, or what it deems general uselessness based on input received primarily on its website throughout the year.
The nominations which numbered in the many thousands are now closed, and the January 2017 list (some of which seem to be of an esoteric nature) is as follows, which also represents a complete turnover from last year.
- you, sir
- bete noire [i.e., pet peeve]
- town hall meeting
- 831 [“A texting encryption of, I love you”]
- manicured [as in lawn]
- echo chamber
- on fleek
- bigly [President-elect Trump’s way of pronouncing “big league”]
- get your dandruff up [which is a phrase, not a word]
- selfie drone
“We hope our modest ‘listicle’ will figure ‘bigly’ in most ‘echo chambers’ around the world,” a LSSU spokesperson quipped.
According to compiler John Shibley, “all words that made the final list garnered 200-300 votes apiece, and the top vote-getter was ‘echo chamber,’ with more than 500 submissions. Overall, the university received submissions from about 8,000 people and maintains an archive of more than 850 words,” the New York Post detailed.
The 2016 word of the year, as selected by the American Dialect Society, is “dumpster fire” in its 27th annual vote. Each year, the 128-year-old organization votes for a “vocabulary item” each year, that may include phrases. “As 2016 unfolded, many people latched on to dumpster fire as a colorful, evocative expression to verbalize their feelings that the year was shaping up to be a catastrophic one,” said a society official.
At times, certain familiar sayings do appropriately match the situation, but as we transition to a new year, do any of these additional repetitive words/phrases (in no particular order) that have entered everyday conversation get on your nerves and have outlived their “shelf life” or “sell-by date”?
- so [when it is used as the first word of a sentence]
- I get it
- fake news
- ceiling [as in, “Trump can’t win/has a ceiling of votes”]
- binary choice
- absolutely [instead of “yes”]
- honestly [a big red flag, usually means the opposite]
- disruptive [in the context of start-up venture hype]
- to be honest with you (see “honestly” above)
- no problem [instead of “you’re welcome”]
- throwing [someone] under the bus
- I mean [dropped in constantly 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 actually means “figuratively”]
- check all the boxes
- it is what it is
- thank you [when signifying agreement with what the other person says]
- game on
- signing Kumbaya
- I have your back/you have my back, etc.
- step up my/your game
- I don’t have a dog in this fight
- skin in the game
- at the end of the day
- bring it
- safe space
- first-time caller/long-time listener or “thank you for taking my call” [on talk radio]
- you’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts
Further on the subject of annoying conversational techniques, you may very well have noticed the rampant speaking pattern called “uptalk” (officially known to linguists as “high rising terminal”).
This describes the 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, perhaps to get a response or affirmation from a listener. See videos below.
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. Perhaps minimizing uptalk would be a good New Year’s resolution.
What words or phrases, if not cliches, do you find the most annoying and/or overused in casual, day-to-day conversation?
[Featured Image by garagestock/Shutterstock]