Let me first admit that I am guilty of having used all of the following words and phrases I consider to be annoying, whether in conversation, writing or both. (Except LOL and ROFL, which I refuse to use. Even if Noah Webster rises from the grave to add the two acronyms to his dictionary, I will not use them.) As an editor—among a random assortment of other jobs, as noted in My Top 5 Dream Jobs—and as a perfectionist, I strive to create correct, clean and concise sentences, be them spoken or written. While I am far from an error-free speaker or writer, I try to refrain as much as possible from using the following ten words and phrases that most get on my nerves:
1) You know: “Like” has been supplanted by “you know” to be today’s most popular filler phrase. Nearly everyone says it, and I don’t get it. Are people asking if the listener knows what they are talking about? If so, the answer is always yes. “Elephants are huge, you know?” Well, yes, I think everyone knows that, so you asking me if I know is insulting. OR: Yes, because you just told me. Either way, saying “you know” is unnecessary. You know?
2) I mean: If people mean what they say, why do they have to tell you they mean it, you know? And if people say things they don’t mean, do they tell you that? Do they say, “I don’t mean to be rude,” and then say something rude anyway? I mean, I use the phrase much more than I should, you know, and I get annoyed at myself for saying it so often, but can’t we just mean what we say without alerting our listener that we mean it? You know?
3) Honestly: “Honestly” is on par with “I mean.” I mean, if people preface sentences with “honestly,” does that mean they’re being more honest than if they said the sentence without the filler word? And if people don’t preface a sentence with “honestly,” are they then going to be dishonest?
4) Literally: I feel like most people who use this word literally don’t know what it means. “I saw my ex while I was at Starbucks and I literally had a heart attack.” Really? Did you go to the hospital and get your ticker checked out? I mean, honestly, heart attacks can literally kill you, you know?
5) Everything happens for a reason: Indeed. Especially because the definition for “reason” is: a statement or fact that explains why something is the way it is.
6) It is what it is: As opposed to being what it isn’t?
7) LOL: According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, a laugh is a sound, so I’m confused how laughing can be done any other way other than out loud.
8) Like: “Like” is akin to that annoying person you couldn’t escape in high school, the one who followed you around all day every day, desperately wanting to be included in every conversation. Fortunately, for the most part, Like has remained in high school. Unfortunately, You Know has swiftly stepped in to fill Like’s shoes.
9) Epic: Ben-Hur, a nearly four-hour film about a betrayed Jewish prince seeking revenge, is epic. Moby Dick, a 635-page book about a ship captain with an insatiable yearn to avenge the loss of his leg and destruction of his vessel by hunting down a sperm whale, is epic. The Great Pyramid of Giza, standing 455 feet tall and having a base of 756 feet, is epic. Your spaghetti dinner is not epic. Tripping and having people laugh at you is not epic. Can we please reserve the word epic for things that truly are?
10) ROFL: I mean, honestly, did you literally, like, get on the floor and roll around because you were laughing so much, and then, you know, type or text that you were doing so? If so, LOL! That’s epic! But if not, I mean, can’t you just LOL? Or, better yet, just laugh, and then carry on typing?
What words and/or phrases get under your skin? Let me know in the comments!
* If this post offended you, check out when I turn the tables and poke fun at myself by divulging the twenty most embarrassing songs in my iTunes library!