The ten most irritating phrases?

by on November 11, 2008 at 11:21 am in Data Source | Permalink

Here is one list:

The top ten most irritating phrases:

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 thank Yang He for the pointer.  At the end of the day, what would you add to this fairly unique list?  With all due respect, I personally, at this moment in time, absolutely shouldn’t of suggested that it’s not rocket science because 24/7 people are saying this and it is literally a nightmare.

1 Jim Gannon November 11, 2008 at 11:25 am

11 – literally

as you aptly demonstrated in the last sentence.

2 lt.milo November 11, 2008 at 11:28 am


3 Kate November 11, 2008 at 11:31 am

aaacccckkk! “Shouldn’t of” is NOT a correct phrase! If correctly
spelled, it should say “shouldn’t have.”

4 a student of economics November 11, 2008 at 11:34 am

Like, literally every article I, like, read misuses the word “literally”.

5 DavidAK November 11, 2008 at 11:37 am


6 tojo November 11, 2008 at 11:38 am

110% is also really annoying. “I give 110% 24/7!”

7 The Drunken Priest November 11, 2008 at 11:41 am

“Needless to say”

If it’s needless to say then there’s no reason to say it.

8 angus November 11, 2008 at 11:41 am

“I’m from the government and I’m here to help you”

9 gumbo November 11, 2008 at 11:45 am

“Think outside the box” does it for me.

And “synergy”. Whenever someone uses the word synergy, there’s at least a 90% chance everything they’re saying is nonsense.

10 Andrew November 11, 2008 at 11:47 am

I would add “To be honest with you,” except that if people stop saying it, I wouldn’t know if their subsequent statements were lies.

11 MTheads November 11, 2008 at 11:49 am

How about “top ten list?” Or is that more of a warning than a phrase?

12 Matt C. November 11, 2008 at 11:50 am

If you things are going down as badly as you say. The only thing we have left is humor. After that, you are just left bored and depressed.

13 SkitzoLeezra November 11, 2008 at 11:52 am

“In my opinion”.
OF COURSE it is YOUR opinion, douchebag!

14 Walter Underwood November 11, 2008 at 11:55 am

“perfect storm”, especially when used to mean “unfortunate coincidence”.

15 Anonymous November 11, 2008 at 12:01 pm

“moving forward” – what, we’re going to move backwards?

16 Rupert November 11, 2008 at 12:06 pm

Going forward. It never, ever means anything – it’s always used in a context where you can’t go backwards.

17 derek November 11, 2008 at 12:09 pm

I’m less concerned about overuse than I am misuse or simply poor phrasing.

For example, it is fine to say “literally”, but hopefully you are using it to mean that something is truly happening (as opposed to you exaggerating or speaking figuaratively) rather than using it as a synonym for “very”.

“Irregardless” isn’t a word.

“I personally” is stupidly redundant.

“At this moment in time” is very clumsy and awkward; I am thankfully not sure that people actually say this.

18 Scott November 11, 2008 at 12:13 pm

“The proof is straightforward.”

19 Thomas November 11, 2008 at 12:15 pm

Actually, Kate (at 11:31), I personally think that’s basically the point (shouldn’t of rather than should not have…). Come on, and with all due respect this ain’t rocket science.

20 Kiwini November 11, 2008 at 12:15 pm

“As such”

21 Don the libertarian Democrat November 11, 2008 at 12:17 pm

Thanks for the list. I’ll use them all.Absolutely. It’s a no brainer. Cheers. Oh, is that irritating? Let me know. You’re saving me a bundle on market research.

22 robby November 11, 2008 at 12:19 pm

“My friends, my maverick running mate and I are going to shake up Warshington and grow the economy!”

23 Kent Guida November 11, 2008 at 12:28 pm

Sustainable, sustainability, sustainable development.
These are used as codewords for redistribution, shakedown by third-world tyrants, or socialism. Or else they are used as synonyms for The Good, without all that messy business of enquiring into what the good is.
When I hear the word, I’m sure what follows will be either grossly inflated blather, or a complete con.

24 Christopher B. November 11, 2008 at 12:35 pm

“Going Green”

25 Walter November 11, 2008 at 12:39 pm

1. “Going forward…”
2. “In all honesty…”
3. “Frankly speaking…”

26 Rich Berger November 11, 2008 at 12:44 pm

Hope and change.

27 Anonymous November 11, 2008 at 12:54 pm

“pink is the new black”, “geeky is the new cool” etc.

28 Ned Baker November 11, 2008 at 12:57 pm

I second “any construction involving Wall Street / Main Street.”

Here are a few of mine:

  • having said that
  • “space” as used in “We are very competitive in that space.”
  • “resource” when referring to an employee
  • per annum
  • akin
  • vis-a-vis (used instead of “with respect to” to sound more pretentious
  • special interests (we’re all opposed to them by definition, right?)
  • liberal (what does this word mean anymore?)

29 wongba November 11, 2008 at 1:01 pm

“And where did the one below come from, and how does something so revolting become popular among otherwise respectable people?”

dodgeball the movie

30 Constant November 11, 2008 at 1:08 pm

I don’t think I’m familiar with the misuse of 24/7. It is an compact description of a business or service that is always available. There is one convenience store in my area that is open 24/7.

31 Gwen November 11, 2008 at 1:12 pm

when people misuse the word cynical to mean ‘negative’.
Ex: ‘Sorry to be so cynical, but I don’t think xyz will win’

32 Silas Barta (formerly Person) November 11, 2008 at 1:14 pm

English_Professor: I actually made a whole vlog on this topic, most of which criticizes constructions involving the metaphorical “table”. Go to my YT page and click on “First vlog: idiots on the internet”.

I also hate “cents on the dollar” (we have the % symbol, folks).

@Kent_Guida: agreed. As best I can determine, those mean, “it doesn’t preserve something I want to preserve”.

How come no one’s said anything about people who put underscores in spaces?

33 Yancey Ward November 11, 2008 at 1:22 pm

Yes, we can.

34 thecheuksmainman November 11, 2008 at 1:31 pm

-ed to perfection”
“no question about it”
“monetarily” v. financially or economically
-wise” as in “having to do with

35 thecheuksmainman November 11, 2008 at 1:34 pm

escaped my bracket characters..

“VERB-ed to perfection”
“NOUN-wise” as in “having to do with NOUN

36 Andrew November 11, 2008 at 1:36 pm

I want to stand up for 24/7 — so long as it’s used literally. To say that something is open 24/7 is the fastest way to convey the point that it never closes. To say “I’m thinking about you 24/7” is idiotic.

37 Ashish November 11, 2008 at 1:47 pm

It seems to me that everybody has forgotten to mention the phrase “it seems to me…”.

38 name withheld by flying saucer November 11, 2008 at 1:50 pm

that oft-recurring phrase “limpsquidgenous bilge-wash” is really starting to rankle my hackles

39 John Thacker November 11, 2008 at 1:56 pm

No one’s mentioned the Internet meme annoying phrases, although I see that James Lileks has discussed those today. Your basic “FAIL,” “made of fail,” “I loves me some X,” “X, not so much,” etc.

40 Carrie November 11, 2008 at 2:07 pm

The phrase “I might could” drives me insane, “you know?”

41 MW November 11, 2008 at 2:13 pm

Introducing a TV news story with, “In these hard economic times, …”

As opposed to when, the malaise of the 70s, the Depression, frontier days? For most viewing the story, these are the best times ever.

42 Daniel Klein November 11, 2008 at 2:19 pm



equilibrium [without reference to a model]


43 MTheads November 11, 2008 at 2:21 pm

“Sucks” sucks. Though I admit to using it.

44 Let them eat Thomas Paine November 11, 2008 at 2:23 pm

Any vague, empty rhetoric (e.g. “Yes we can”)

45 Anonymous November 11, 2008 at 2:36 pm

“comes at a time when”

54,100 hits for this phrase when googling – “comes at a time when” “new york times”

46 Daniel Klein November 11, 2008 at 2:38 pm

Deirdre McCloskey ECONOMICAL WRITING 2000 pp. 76-77:

In Ersatz Economics, prices start by “skyrocketing.” When “sellers outnumber buyers” prices fall from “exorbitant” or “gouging” levels, down through “fair” and “just.” If this “vicious cycle” goes on too long, though, they fall to “unfair” and “cutthroat,” the result of “dumping.” Likewise, the woman in the street believes she knows that unions and corporations have more “bargaining power” than do their victims, and therefore can “exploit” them. A consumer can “afford” medical care, maybe only “barely afford” it, “needs” housing, and views food as a “basic necessity.” Business people maintain their “profit margins,” probably “obscene” or “unwarranted,” by “passing along” a higher wage, which causes workers to demand still higher wages, in a “spiral.” The protection of the American worker’s “living wage” from “unfair competition” by “cheap foreign labor” should be high on the nation’s list of “priorities,” as should be the “rebuilding” of our “collapsing” industrial “base.”

47 Gomer November 11, 2008 at 2:44 pm

If you want to know the truth ….
Perfect strom ….
ping me ….

48 thatguy November 11, 2008 at 2:53 pm

The use of the word “myself” as used by pro athletes….. shiver

49 rkillings November 11, 2008 at 3:01 pm

‘shouldn’t of’ may be *dismaying* but should not be irritating. If you are irritated by others’ ignorance, it’s your own fault.

For ye have the poor spellers always with you …

50 Dan November 11, 2008 at 3:11 pm

‘Reach Out’ ~ As in “I’ll reach out to operations on that topic.”

51 Thomas November 11, 2008 at 3:16 pm

“Prior to” when “before” will do.
“Asked” pronounced “assed” or “axed”
“Pitcher” for “picture”
“Like” used “like” a conjunction.
“Flush out” and argument instead of “flesh out.”
“Exit” for “leave.”

52 Mark November 11, 2008 at 3:26 pm


53 mdmetcalf November 11, 2008 at 3:39 pm

“To tell the truth…” (or “Honestly…”). It makes me wonder if you haven’t been honest up to that point, and you’re finally breaking down.

54 Milk for Free November 11, 2008 at 3:43 pm

“In the final analysis”

Righteous agreement with “Perfect Storm.” Sebastian Junger should be punched in the throat for fathering that monstrosity.

55 Rubin November 11, 2008 at 3:52 pm

– Sheer
– On steroids
– The thing is, is that
– It’s / its

56 Michael Drake November 11, 2008 at 3:58 pm

Phrases just annoy me generally; never use ’em, myself.

57 David November 11, 2008 at 4:05 pm

The misuse of “begs the question” really rankles.


“strong oversight”

58 rao November 11, 2008 at 4:25 pm

my 2 cents / $ 0.02 / EURO $ 0.02 etc.

59 rluser November 11, 2008 at 4:41 pm

Now it’s occurred twice in this thread. ‘Hopefully’ used to mean ‘I hope’ is most annoying.

60 Will Wilkinson November 11, 2008 at 5:07 pm

I hate the way everybody uses the same word to mean the same thing. Convention is tiresome! And since we’re all so stupid, it would just be better if we didn’t understand each other.

61 MM November 11, 2008 at 5:25 pm

I have a hard time understanding why any of these things (short of blatant misuse) actually LITERALLY annoys anyone. At this moment in time, I have to wonder what could actually be written if we denied everything that annoyed everyone so much that they’d take the time to list it.

62 Ben November 11, 2008 at 5:25 pm

Using the term “folks” to mean people. It’s always been around, but I feel like folks are using it way more often these days. I blame Obama.

63 Brian November 11, 2008 at 5:30 pm

“The fact of the matter is….”

Hands down the most irritating phrase.

64 LiterallyDouche November 11, 2008 at 5:55 pm

Marginal Revolution. Because they really mean to say…

65 Anonymous November 11, 2008 at 5:59 pm

I hope I never hear the phrase “heartbeat away from the presidency” again.

66 Adam November 11, 2008 at 6:08 pm

“Going forward…”

It’s almost always redundant.

67 Ami November 11, 2008 at 6:19 pm

Re: “sustainable”- unfortunate it has become overloaded to mean any form of “green”. I’ve always understood it to mean a plan or system that will balance and continue to work over the long-term, so at times I use “unsustainable” as a criticism of various foolish versions of “redistribute the wealth” that destroy incentives… I shudder at the thought that communism could be implied by “sustainable”.

68 Tom Hanna November 11, 2008 at 7:52 pm

Maybe at the end of the day we can get closure, but we really need to reach across the aisle to end this phrase that rises to the level of a high crime.

69 mm November 11, 2008 at 8:33 pm

‘… threw him under the bus.’

It went from being used to talk about reality show contestants to mainstream politics and business. Sad reflection on our culture.

70 Ben November 11, 2008 at 9:10 pm

Even though there have already been a lot of comments, I feel that we are only in the 3rd inning of a 9 inning game.

71 Paul N November 11, 2008 at 9:13 pm

“in reality” or “the reality is”


72 Linda November 11, 2008 at 9:54 pm

Okay, the three worst are:

paradigm shift
tipping point

I cringe when I hear these!

73 Tyler Cowen November 11, 2008 at 10:22 pm

Egads, you people are irritated and annoyed…

74 Bernard Yomtov November 11, 2008 at 10:40 pm

I hate “going forward.” But there are many excellent, that is to say, annoying, suggestions in the thread.

75 Kyle November 11, 2008 at 11:22 pm

nth-ing “the fact of the matter is.” My least favorite part of campaign season.

76 Judy November 12, 2008 at 1:11 am

Oh the pain! The suffering! I just heard someone use a HACKNEYED PHRASE! I’m guessing that if the poor language usage of others causes you such anguish, you must be really, really smart. Or you have a nice life, protected from pretty much everything except others’ displays of their poor education. Or maybe you’re just signalling?

Some notes on grammar in Lander’s Stuff White People Like website:

77 kb November 12, 2008 at 9:33 am

as a libertarian “good enough for government work” seems to fill the bill

78 Tom November 12, 2008 at 12:12 pm

Re. “I give 110%, 24/7”

Shouldn’t it be, “I give 110%, 26.4/7.7”

79 Scott Carpenter November 12, 2008 at 2:38 pm

Utilize instead of use.

80 k November 12, 2008 at 4:06 pm

Greatest crisis since 1929
So the one in 1937
or the one after 73, that lasted until 82 ( 12.5% plus 7.1)and 22%
or the one in 1991

81 PB November 12, 2008 at 4:53 pm

How about BENCHMARK? It has no meaning, but it keeps plenty of people in business.

82 Lee November 12, 2008 at 5:32 pm

Ain’t nothin funnier than “It ain’t rocket scientry.” Such a perfect use of irony!

83 Hal November 12, 2008 at 10:17 pm
84 Fûz November 12, 2008 at 10:57 pm

“taxpayer dollars”: in that context, from where else are dollars of revenue taken?

“hard-earned taxpayer dollars”: why would it matter how much effort was expended in earning them? Is it better to tax easily-earned revenue than hard-earned? How does the taxing entity distinguish between the two?

85 nbchchghcfhg November 13, 2008 at 12:25 am

Oops. I meant to say that I saw this usage of “almost” in the New York Times the other day. Not the sentence.

86 Ben November 13, 2008 at 10:12 am

“It’s all greek to me.”

87 Cornelius November 13, 2008 at 11:49 am

Also, i hate the phrase “green collar jobs”. I find it insulting.

88 David Loeff November 14, 2008 at 4:35 pm

I’ve replaced Number 10 with this one: “It’s not like it’s rocket surgery.” That way I can get two into the same sentence.

89 fairleyr November 17, 2008 at 4:51 am

– Singing off the same hymn sheet
– All on the same page
– Using the name deck for PowerPoint presentation

90 Natasha November 26, 2008 at 5:11 am

These are the most irritating phrases ever!
I made the 11th most irritating phrase!
It is-
One sec. (second)
I keep saying it and everyone finds it so irritating! LOL.

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