Friday, November 07, 2008


NRO tipped me to this piece in Wired on the "Top 10 Most Irritating Expressions in the English Language." Their list:

1 - At the end of the day
2 - Fairly unique
3 - I personally
4 - At this moment in time
5 - With all due respect
6 - Absolutely
7 - It's a nightmare
8 - Shouldn't of
9 - 24/7
10 - It's not rocket science

I know each of us could compile his own list, but I was heartened to see "24/7" on this one. Any list I would make would have to include "Not so much" and "Sooner rather than later."

What are some of your candidate phrases for an annoying list?


PBurns said...

Funny story: I was helping a neighbor with a project and forgetting what he did for a living (he works for NASA) I said "It's not rocket science," at which point he said, "Actually, rocket science is not really rocket science."

A small brilliant momemnt.


Peter said...

One particularly annoying expression, "that's the bottom line," seems to have faded from use in recent years.

Moro Rogers said...

I think I'm more put off by the words 'cheesy' (as in "Oh, you like THOSE movies? Me too!! I love those cheesy movies, they're so bad they're good!") 'quirky,' 'snarky' and 'irreverent' (used to describe whatever HBO show.) I also hate 'relationship,' because it strikes me as evasive. Words like 'boyfriend,''girlfriend,' 'enemy' and 'slave' have a lot more meaning.

dr. hypercube said...

With all due respect, I personally feel that you shouldn't of (shouldn't it be shouldn't have - or is that what makes it annoying?)included "not so much. The rest absolutely suck, but "not so much"? Not so much.

Sorry - I'm a twelve year old trapped in a grown body *grin*.

Misuse of unique drives me crazy - it's binary - yes or no - something cannot be more unique. Not an expression though...

Rebecca K. O'Connor said...

"One of the only".... um, you can be one of the few or one of the many, but how exactly can you be one of the only?

Larissa said...

I always wonder why people say "inspirational" rather than "inspiring"....and "irregardless" is irritating....."raw" is now overused and usually used inappropriately...I don't like how "drama" has come to mean any unpleasant events or behavior....and I've never approved of c*** being used as a cuss or insult.

Cat Urbigkit said...

A perfectly nice and otherwise intelligent gentleman I know frequently adds the words "vis-à-vis" (as in relation to) to his sentences. Drives me nuts!

Peter said...

I've never approved of c*** being used as a cuss or insult.

I believe that use of the term as an insult was originally a British usage that gradually caught on in America. Oddly enough, it's a fairly mild, amusing insult in Britain, and a very abusive term here in America.

LabRat said...

I've been TRYING to prune "not so much" from my lexicon, but as to having actual success, well... not so much.

I'm also seeing the contraction of "for example" into "frex" seeping in as an urge... which I dimly sense much be incredibly annoying.

Matt Mullenix said...

What about text-ese: ROTFLOL!

Of course we like to RTWT to maybe it's OK.

Something I write in emails that my co-workers (colleagues?) find annoying is "10-4". I got that from my first boss at the Florida Game and Fish, who knew all the ten-codes and used them correctly on the commission radios. We field hands were expected to do the same, but kept having to check the crib sheet behind the sun visor.

When I respond with 10-4 to our undergraduate student workers, they think I'm talking about hours in the day (don't young people watch cop shows any more?). They figure they're in for a long meeting.

steveo_uk said...

apparently one of my annoying sayings is "we are all adults here" winds him up no end, perhaps thats why i say it

steveo_uk said...

for some reason that dropped a sentence it was meant to say

apparently one of my annoying sayings is "we are all adults here" my boss hates it , it winds him up no end, perhaps that's why i say it

Reid Farmer said...

I'm also seeing the contraction of "for example" into "frex" seeping in as an urge... which I dimly sense much be incredibly annoying.

Wow - I've never heard "frex" used before, perhaps an indicator of the uncool company I keep. I agree it would be terminally annoying.

I think in my mind, persistent overuse has caused "Not so much" to jump to the head of my list: overuse is an important factor in building annoyance quotient.

I was of course overjoyed to hear Pres. - elect Obama use "sooner rather than later" in his press conference on the economy yesterday

Peculiar said...

"Fellow traveler" has been quite in vogue lately. I'm not sure why, but it seriously bugs me. I'd also be happy to see science and nature writers, as well as others, back off on the use of "atavistic": great word, but it's been everyone's special vocabulary treasure for a good while now.

But I'm truly dismayed at the use of the phrase "red meat" in this election season. Not sure what it means; it seems to have something to do with pissing people off. The words "red meat" ought never to invoke anything but carnivorous delight.

Anonymous said...

When I hear the phrase '10-4', I think of that song 'Convoy'. "So we crashed the gate doing nighty-eight, I says let them truckers roll, 10-4."

A few that bug me:
Do ya THINK?
You GO girl! (Yeah, it's still used where I live. Please let it die. Soon.)

I console myself with the knowledge that these annoying phrases do, eventually, pass away. Remember 'gravitas'?

In the book 'Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crows', there's a whole chapter devoted to hep phrases. The book was written in the 1840s, so some of the phrases, I like "Does your mother know you're out?", might deserve a revival.


dr. hypercube said...

"Does your mother know you're out?"

Love it! And it's a lot more polite than one of my more-than-mildly-annoyed rejoinders, "Did you mother have any children that lived?" (Thank you Stanley Kubrick and R. Lee Ermey)

dr. hypercube said...

Oops - "did YOUR mother"

R Francis said...

if you will; --'s best-kept secret; this dog aint gonna hunt;inter alia.

Anonymous said...

Well 'to be perfectly honest' I often wonder how much people who use that phrase lie to me.

And - don't get me started on the pointless confusion and ugliness that arose when corporate jargon began to creep into everyday speech.

mdmnm said...

Not a phrase, but a I'm tired of "surveil". As in, "As I surveilled him, Mr. Bad Guy exited the hideout and proceeded to his vehicle, whereupon he drove away." Just because folks are conducting surveillance, they aren't surveilling anything. At least Blogger's spell checker doesn't like it either!

Bridget said...

'To be perfectly honest' is both annoying and loaded. Is the person saying that they are dishonest generally, but for you they are making a special exception?

Another bad one is 'No offense, but...', which is a popular disclaimer used by someone about to say something mean.

'As it were' is another terrible one; it sounds totally pretentious. I did some research on that phrase, because it seemed gramatically incorrect. I guess there's some dispute about it among the grammar hounds. Even if it is correct, I just can't see anyone other than William F. Buckley, (may his name be for a blessing), using it well.