Does This Irritate You? Like, Whatever!

Not sure why I’m thinking about this early Sunday a.m. before taking to the concrete for my five-mile self-directed running tour of the neighborhood. But I wonder what asshat came up with this expression: Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?


OK. At the least, c’mon. Don’t you find some words and expressions to be irritating? I know I do.

I opined here weeks ago that two expressions — now very much in vogue Inside the Beltway and elsewhere — have about the same effect on me as being staked out buck naked in the desert directly over an ant colony. The “new normal” is one. The other is ending an e-mail with the directive — thoughts?

It appears that others have some word grievances as well. To wit:

If you’re like, “whatever,” and someone gives you a mean look, just remember it is what it is – certain sayings rub people the wrong way, you know?  Anyway, at the end of the day, who cares?

That comes from a recent national Marist Poll that asked Americans what they found to be their most irritating word.

And the winner — or is it loser? — is — “whatever.”

Here’s from a blog post about the survey results.

If the above paragraph thoroughly irritated you, you’re probably not alone.  The question is, which word or phrase bothered you the most?

Chances are it was “whatever.”  In a recent Marist poll, nearly half of Americans – 47% – said they find “whatever” most annoying.  The other sayings weren’t quite so loathed.  25% say they find “you know” most grating; 11% can’t stand “it is what it is”; 7% would like to ban “anyway” from all verbal exchanges; and 2% reported that they could do without hearing “at the end of the day.”

And not to be outdone, the NYT puts the spotlight on “The Words of the Year.” Here’s an excerpt:

There are buzzwords and there are great words. (Retweet.)

Vuvuzela is a great word, one of the best to enter American popular culture in 2010, though it sounds nothing like an actual vuvuzela. A vuvuzela sounds like a long, droning moan, a sound full of garbage and tennis balls.

The vuvuzela’s long, plastic barrel provided Americans with the junk shot of sounds this year, the sort of noise you could hear even through a containment dome placed over a gushing underwater oil well owned by BP. (Though if you take a vuvuzela to the airport, you’re going to get an enhanced pat-down, sure as we could be entering a double-dip recession.)

Close your eyes while someone blows a vuvuzela and you can see all this clearly, as if it were playing on a spill-cam over your Web browser at work. Open them and it’s just a World Cup game highlight (speaking of great words: Uruguay vs. Ghana).

And the oil kept coming, all summer long, and with it new words — top kill, static kill, bottom kill — that meant failure, until at bottom they didn’t. (There may be put-backs for mortgage bonds. It doesn’t work so well with oil.)

Here are some of my favorites, as listed in the NYT article:

mama grizzly: Coined by Sarah Palin, “mama grizzly” is the conservative woman’s battle cry, referring to mothers who ferociously defend their children or policies that benefit them. Often used with humor. In her new book, Ms. Palin wrote that it’s “bear propaganda” to insist that these bears are cute and cuddly.

poutrage: False outrage, usually put on for personal, financial or political gain.

refudiate: Another Palinism, this time a blend of refute and repudiate. Now used with an eyebrow raised.

shellacking: President Obama’s preferred way to describe what happened to Democrats in the midterm elections. Some might call it a knock-down punch.

Anyway, at the end of the day, who cares?

So, you know,  I might as well get up and head outside. And even though the temp is only about 10 degrees, it is what it is.



2 responses to “Does This Irritate You? Like, Whatever!

  1. Great post, Rob! Really sums up those phrases I hope are not carried over into the new year. Another horribly irritating phrase: ‘politics as usual.’ We all hate the phrase and the reality of it, too. I imagine even some politicians hate it…and yet, no one can do anything to change it. Oh well. A Pollyanna can dream, can’t she?
    Happy Holidays, Rob! (I don’t even want to open the can of worms with that phrase!)

    • Megan,

      Hi. Politics as usual. What a bankrupt phrase. Oh, well. Whatever.

      Hope you are doing well. And Happy Holidays!


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