Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Absolutely, positively irritating [update 3]

Oxford University researchers have done us the service of compiling the top ten most irritating phrases in the English language. Story here.  They are, in order:

  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

No, it sure ain't.  I can add a few irritating favourites of my own to the list:

  • No brainer (which I've found is usually descriptive of the person using the phrase)
  • Going forward (usually used by people making excuses for going backwards)
  • Think outside of the box (always used by people resolutely anchored to the status quo)
  • It's all good (no, it can't be -- everything has some cost)

Any other annoying "favourites" you'd like to share?

CONTINUAL UPDATE:  More phrases that might, like, piss you off for sure (thanks commenters):

  • Myself (when the correct word is I or me)
  • Absolutely unique
  • It ticks all the boxes
  • Basically ... (especially when mispronounced)
  • Touch base (we're not playing fucking baseball, arsehole)
  • Whatever (usually followed by a shrug)
  • D'you know what I mean?/Do you get what I mean? (you know)
  • Have a nice day...
  • I know its none of my business, but...
  • I'm not racist, but...
  • In terms of
  • Big as/sweet as
  • Impact (if used as a verb)
  • Workshop (when used as a verb)
  • Tasked (you have to mangle it to even use it as a verb!)
  • Paradigm shift
  • Worst case/best case scenario
  • I hear what you're saying
  • It's so, just, like, you know, surreal!
  • Problematic (what's wrong with saying "Difficult"!)
  • Strategy (what's wrong with "method"?)
  • Data/criteria (they're plurals, dammit)
  • Getting your ducks in a row
  • My bad
  • That's how we roll (especially by someone over twenty-five)
  • It's not fair" (so?)
  • Social justice (an oxymoron for morons)
  • Take it on board (do I look like a truck?)
  • Well grounded (you've attached the earth wire?)
  • The bottom line is... (the end of the page, aresehole)
  • "We" when you mean "I"
  • Ramping up
  • X-elect
  • X-gate


  1. Myself when the correct word is I or me.

    Absolutely unique.

  2. 24/7 drives me nuts.

    And so does this, that's seeped down here via Brit lifestyle shows ..

    "It ticks all the boxes".

    Guaranteed to make me scream, "No, you arse, it meets the bloody criteria!!!"

    It's a nightmare. Absolutely. ;)

  3. BASICALLY!!!!

  4. "Going forward" is my number one.

    I have a policy of 'eliminating' anybody who uses that wank term in my hearing.

    (Unfortunately that had to apply to a certain Libz member who is actually quite a nice chap)

    But yes, various sharebrokers, ex-employees and other associates are wondering what they did to incur an immediate and final elimination...ha ha!

    'Touch base' is also an odious term certain to encourage the 'initiation of force' as I capult across the table and start flogging them.

  5. 'whatever' (usually followed by a shrug)

  6. gaaargh! scrub second comment..

  7. I cannot stand people (and in Australia it seems to be 95% of the English speaking population) who end every declarative sentence with the phrase "Do you know what I mean?"

    I either find it insulting, as it suggests I am incapable of understanding what I am told, or pathetic, in as much as the person is so unsure of their ability to verbalise what is in their head that they need reassurance that they have actually gotten it out in one go.

    Few things piss me off as much as "Do you know what I mean?"

  8. You've missed the most irritating one... but never mind. Have a nice day....

  9. In terms of.

    'Impact' in place of 'affect'.

  10. Paradigm shift / change

    The government will chip in / pay as in kiwi saver where the government will chip in a $1000.

  11. My father (an English teacher) and I both cannot stand the incorrect use of 'scenario' - especially irritating on talkback.

  12. Speaking of irritating, is that what I will have to become to get you to update your link to MandM to www.mandm.org.nz?


  13. "I know its none of my business, but..."

    Just put a period after "Business"!

  14. I have four main ones

    "sweet as..."

    "going forward"

    "at the end of the day"

    "I'm not racist, but...."


  15. Justin,

    I agree with your comment. Here is how another catch phrase that irritates me. I'll just insert it in between a paragraph from your message.

    I either find it insulting,you know as it suggests I am incapable of understanding what I am told, you know or pathetic, in as much as the person is so unsure of their ability to verbalise what is in their head you know, that they need reassurance that they have actually gotten it out in one go, you know.

    Most of the time I just replied back and said, I don't fuck'n know.

  16. Use of the word "scenario" when "situation" or "event" should be used.

  17. "I hear what you're saying"

  18. Sureal: it so, just, like, you know, sureal!
    Please, please, please, just throw that damned word into the reflection pool at the WTC and be rid of it.

  19. The abuse of the word 'like'.

    You know, like, when somebody like says like all the time?


  20. "Free" ... which is possibly the most frequently abused word in the English language.

    Either people are (often intentionally) confusing libre with gratis, or they're using "free" to mean "taxpayer-funded."

    "Data" ... which is correctly plural, as in "these data show ..."

    "Criteria" which is also plural - I just want to slap people who say "I only have one criteria."

  21. Can someone explain this term "Big As" (or should be Big Arse?? haha) -- kids in my daughter's school use it all the time. My pet hate phrase in conversation is "Do you get what I mean!"

  22. You're darn tootin'

    good moaning

    I know naaathing

    You can bet your bollocks to a barn dance

    Sorry, I thought you meant favourite

  23. "Read my lips..." Can't I just listen?

    "In my humble opinion..." Why be humble about it? If it's not worth being proud of, don't bother telling me.

  24. Getting your ducklings in a row.

  25. "it's not fair" (so it can't be good)
    "social justice" (anything but)
    "take it on board" (unless it is cargo for a mode of transport, fuck off)
    "well grounded" (a radio is it?)
    "workshop" (unless it involves tools and light engineering it's a fucking talkfest)
    "touching base" (in a fucking spaceship are we or is it baseball?)
    "the bottom line is" (the end of the page)

    but top of the list is saying "you" or "we" when someone means I. Stop fucking including me in your thoughts until you ask!

  26. but top of the list is saying "you" or "we" when someone means I.


    That is my top of the list as well.

    Except "we" is not generally used in place of "I", instead it is in place of "everybody else"

  27. I hate "Ramping up". We totally underestimated the shit we're in.

    Anything"-elect" is starting to really piss me off as well. I'm the daddy-elect in this household. I've just visited the blog-elect (for this momnt in time).

  28. The use of the word strategy, when the words method or tactic are far more appropriate.

  29. "*-gate"

    Especially in election year.

  30. Trust me (you know you can't)
    Like (when used as the opening work in a sentence)
    All things being equal (they never are)
    It doesn't get better than this (completely untrue)
    And the worst one for me ...
    Yeah, no (it can go on and on yeah no yeah etc)

  31. I've just rememberd that in a past life, I wrote an article on this very topic for TFR ...

    Here's another three guaranteed to give me the same reaction as when I spot Sue Bradford on TV:

    *Uber as in uber-modern/cool, etc (and)
    *Yummy mummy

    The very mention of these two make me retch & swear, not necessarily in that order. However, what totally drives me insane to the point of nearly putting my foot through the bloody screen is "DE-fence" on the park, instead of defence.

    I cannot tolerate that in football codes with origins outside of the US. One day I will violate the NIOF code & cheerfully hit the bastard.

    DEfuckingfence, indeed. Colin Meads must take an extremely deep breath everytime some twat in headphones comes out with it.

    .. And don't even think about mentioning "OFF-fence" instead of attack. That's off the radar and will definitely see me arrested. :)

  32. Come on, it's a living language:
    DE-fence is me denying you a try.
    Defence is when I lay you out as you try and take my wallet.

    Can we add "off-message" to the list, pretty pls

  33. Clunking, that is the problem with New Zealand; this 'it's a living language' palavar.

    This attitude has caused an illiterate drawl to overtake English as what most New Zealanders speak....the "oh, so long as you can be understood" is the mantra.

    So everyone can be ignorant, illiterate and a moron and it is okay, whereas my own 'Received Pronounciation" accent (taught to me by my Nanny as a young boy) is viewed with suspicion by many people...(including many Libz, who should know better)

  34. Funny indeed how rare it is to find the words 'datum' and 'criterion' used!
    The fact that the most used words editor accepts 'data' as a singular does not help...No excuse here for 'criteria' though.

  35. Elijah, if your nanny spoke the same english as William Shakespeare, you'd have a point. I suspect she didn't...

    Anyways, I'm gonna crack open the electric food safe and get me laughing gear around a pukka IPA.

  36. "Living language", my foot, Fist! That's the sort of cockamamie bullshit defending (that's defending, thank you, not DEfending!) text language, God help us.

    I'm a libertarian, which renders your second example null & void. I don't want your damn wallet. You obviously confuse me with an Nat/ACT supporter ... ;)

  37. Languages are living, just like ideas. After all, language is how we express ideas.
    Perhaps we should have an Académie française-type set-up to enforce correct english?
    Nah, didn;t think so! :^)

    Apologies about the wallet thing! Of course, in that example, expanded on by you, in court I could not claim the defence of self-defence: the taxman is all-powerful. Politicians can cross their fingers for 6 months after filing a false return. I have to hope that I've not made an honest mistake, and that it is not picked up within 4 years of filing my return...

  38. https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm

    Orwell on the death of the English language:

    Our civilization is decadent and our language -- so the argument runs -- must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.


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