- Education and Science
Commonly Overused Words and Phrases
Cliches Done to Death
Do cliches and worn-out old phrases make you want to hiss? When someone says "Think outside the box," do you feel like stuffing them inside a box? Are you going to scream if you hear some kid say "like, you know" one more time?
This is my growing list of some of the most overused words and phrases that really ought to be retired.
"And he was like, 'Seriously?,' and I'm like, 'Yeah,' and he's like, 'No way,' and I'm like..."
Aaauuuuuuggggghhhhhhh! Make it stop!
For some reason, "like" is more annoying than filler words such as "uh" and "um." Those filler words convey nervousness or low self-confidence. "Like" is, like, vacuous.
This one is ALMOST as bad as "like." To my dismay, "you know" is a dear friend of "like." They always hang out together.
"It's, like, you know..."
The problem with this word isn't just that it's overused. The biggest problem I have with "whatever" is that it expresses contempt. It's dismissive, the verbal equivalent of rolling your eyes. Even if contempt is deserved, saying "whatever" rarely makes the speaker look good.
My Two Cents
This one is a crutch for almost everyone. I've even used it from time to time. This phrase is innocuous enough and doesn't seem to make people throw fits, but it is getting a little worn and tired.
Ever watch Princess Bride? Remember when Inigo tells Vizzini, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means?" "Literally" is one of those type of words.
"Literally" isn't a word you use for emphasis. It's a word you use when you say something that shouldn't just be interpreted figuratively. For example, if you jumped so high that you bumped your head, you could say, "I literally hit the ceiling."
But if you say that you literally worked your butt off, it doesn't mean you worked really hard. It means you don't have a butt anymore.
Then again, people overuse the word "literally" even if they're technically using it correctly. If you drove your car into a ditch, you can just say so and leave it at that. People probably don't need to hear the word "literally" to understand what you're saying.
Think Outside the Box
OK, time to put this business cliché back in the box now.
This buzzword was used to death by business execs who thought it sounded good. It promotes creative thinking, yet it has been repeated so much that it's become musty, flat, and uninspiring. It also sounds pretentious.
It's Not Rocket Science
Fortunately I don't hear this one much any more, but I remember a time when it came up a lot. Something about it makes me twitch. Can't we say "It's not brain surgery" instead?
Much as I dislike cussing, I realize that colorful obscenities are a part of just about every language. Everyone has their own form of swearing, even if they say something mild like "darn it" or make up something silly like "fummydoodles."
The problem is that when profanity is overused, it makes many people uncomfortable. It's unprofessional and reflects badly on the speaker. And finally, the words themselves lose their power with overuse.
If four-letter-words are always used for the most mundane things--dropping your keys, criticizing the slow service at a restaurant, complaining when someone forgets to put the juice back in the fridge--are they still powerful enough to express outrage when someone steals your wallet or parks in front of your driveway?
Think of the Children
A stinky political cliché that tries to make you feel guilty if you're opposed to some law that drains your pocketbook or violates your rights in some way. If you're not willing to give up some freedoms (or at least the conveniences you grew up with), you must be in favor of child abuse. How dare you put your own selfish whims ahead of the children!
But wait, there's more! Call now and you'll get this fabulous egg-laying, multi-purpose rubber chicken ABSOLUTELY FREE! Wow!
A lot of people say they HATE this one. They're all but screaming and tearing their hair out over it.
According to Dictionary.com, "awesome" is a word that means "inspiring awe." But what does "awe" mean? "An overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like."
There aren't a lot of truly awesome things in the world.
I feel sorry for anyone who works in customer service and says "no problem" when anyone thanks them. If the comments at the bottom of this page are any indication, these well-meaning people are going to get mauled by someone who's sick of hearing it.
Say "you're welcome" instead. It's safer!
At the End of the Day
Properly translated, "at the end of the day" means, "I'm about to say something clever and profound!"
Every time a newscaster utters this hackneyed phrase, somebody pukes.
I Could Care Less
If you say this, you're saying that you DO care. Because if you DIDN'T care, it would be impossible to care less than you actually do.
That's why the phrase is correctly said, "I couldn't care less."
My favorite definition of "my bad" comes from Urban Dictionary:
"I did something bad, and I recognize that I did something bad, but there is nothing that can be done for it now, and there is technically no reason to apologize for that error, so let's just assume that I won't do it again, get over it, and move on with our lives."
Not only is "my bad" grammatically incorrect, it's a flippant apology.
Mr. Seriously can be found lurking on discussion forums and the comment sections of blogs. First someone says something stupid, offensive, or just plain unpopular. Someone else comes along and says "Seriously?" Then they proceed to snark and spew vitriol.
"I LOVE POKÉMON!!!"
"Pokémon? Seriously? Dude, get a life."
Let's not forget about Mr. Seriously's cousin, Miss Really. Someone gets riled up by a different point of view, paraphrases it to sound as inflammatory as possible, then finally punctuates it with "Really?"
"I support the right to bear arms."
"So you support violence and death and little kids shooting themselves? Really?"
Victoria's Overused Words and Phrases
Just to be fair, here are some words and phrases I catch myself using a lot...
- For example
- For some reason
- For the most part
- I dunno
- I guess
- I think
- In general
- Something like that
Some words are used heavily because it's HARD find a substitute for perfectly good words that convey the right meaning or tone. Other words are difficult to give up because they're so comfortably ingrained in our habits.
What's a word or phrase that really bugs you?