Words and phrases I hate

It’s that time again: time to blow off steam by kvetching about language. If you’re one of those tolerant people who says, “Language evolves, deal with it,” then you should simply skip this post. Otherwise, be ready to enlighten us with words and phrases that grate on you.

Here’s my latest list, and be aware that I don’t keep track of previous posts like this, so I may repeat myself. As usual, many of my examples come from HuffPost, where a bunch of entitled Millennials who can’t get a real job like to sound cool by larding their “articles” with the latest cool argot.

1.) “tea” as in “gossip” or “dirt”. “Spill the tea” is now the equivalent of “tell all” or “spill it”. The Urban Dictionary gives an example:

“Girl, did you know Renee is having ANOTHER baby? And the babby daddy is the same guy who she found out has been cheating on her!”

“OMG, spill the tea on that drama!!!!”

An example from this article in HuffPo:

 

to wit:

Demi Moore’s new memoir is giving you all the tea you could possibly want about her life and then some.

This is odious. Why can’t they just say “juicy details” or “gossip”. The word “tea” here is the verbal equivalent to virtue flaunting—it’s “I’m with-it” flaunting. I have no use for such people.

2.) Influencers.  This refers to people on Instagram who make their living by “influencing” people: flaunting products and brand names, and showing pictures of themselves in spiffy clothing (paid for by the manufacturer). It rankles me that people would actually try to earn money by influencing others commercially—”influencers” who pretend not to be the advertising agents they really are. An example of an influencer is Olivia Jade Giannulli, the daughter of soon-to-be-felon Lori Laughlin. Cursed with a deficit of neurons and a hunger for attention and money, Olivia Jade brandishes products and thereby encourages her sheeple to buy them. Viz:

Here are some examples from HuffPo:

3.) “The thing is. . . is. .. ”  The double “is” is (I just did it!), well, a sign of eloquence deficit, for nothing is added with the second “is.” In fact, you could eliminate “the thing is” entirely, replacing it with something like “the important thing is that” or “the crucial thing is that.” Sadly, I actually heard a commenter use the double “is” on National Public Radio the other day.

I won’t provide an example because if you’re an Anglophone you’ll have heard many (although I’m not sure whether, say, Brits, Aussies, or Canadians use the phrase).

Your turn!

175 Comments

  1. Posted October 16, 2019 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Unique now means special or interesting; we need a new word for its former definition. I’ve said this before in comments but the use of sat instead of sitting is now everywhere. (UK usage)

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      What’s wrong wi’ ‘sat’, chuck?

      • Posted October 16, 2019 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        Nowt, when spoken with the accent to match.

  2. Rita Prangle
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    The use of “filtered” to mean “strolled” or other synonymous term. I’ve seen it several times now, the latest being in an article on the video showing the Trump character committing mass murder in a church building. The Article said the video was on a couple screens in a hospitality room at a Republican function at a Trump resort, where attendees “filtered in and out of the room.”

    • Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      Maybe they meant “flittered”.

    • Posted October 16, 2019 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      I’m glad your pointed this out. https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/filter has:

      2. Move slowly in a specified direction.
      ‘the players filtered out on to the pitch’

      So “flittered” would convey a different meaning, one of quick, hard-to-spot movement:
      “move quickly in an apparently random or purposeless manner”

      • merilee
        Posted October 16, 2019 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        How ‘bout “flitted”?

        • Posted October 16, 2019 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

          flitter = move quickly in an apparently random or purposeless manner
          flit = move swiftly and lightly

          • Filippo
            Posted October 19, 2019 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

            In E. Tennessee (and likely elsewhere), “flitter” (“flitteration,” the result of “flittering”) is (perhaps) a more aesthetically pleasing synonym for poop.

            • Posted October 19, 2019 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

              Thank you, Filippo, for your edification.

              We shall not litter nor flitter in the public. 😉

              • Filippo
                Posted October 19, 2019 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

                You are quite welcome. I myself profusely thank certain posters here for periodically blessing us with variations on the four-letter word for “sexual congress.” As Mr. Spock would put it, (in the spirit of “IDIC” – “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations”) I find it not just “interesting” but also “stimulating.”

              • Posted October 19, 2019 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

                Hi Filippo,

                Given your enthusiasm, please kindly be informed that I mentioned earlier in my other comment in this post that I have published on my website an article entitled “⚠️ Use WITH Caution Or Not At All 📝📜” discussing the most abused, misused and overused word, “with”. Please enjoy reading it there.

                Happy October to you!

        • Posted October 16, 2019 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

          I couldn’t find anything online about flittered vs flitted but they are past tense of flitter and flit, respectively, and Google gives similar but different definitions:

          flit: move swiftly and lightly.
          “small birds flitted about in the branches”

          flitter: move quickly in an apparently random or purposeless manner.
          “if only you would settle down instead of flittering around the countryside”

  3. j robinson
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    I am tired of everything being called “iconic”. The word has lost its value, being used so much.

  4. Posted October 16, 2019 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    “So…” As with “The thing is. . . is. .. ”, nothing is added when tacking “So” to the beginning of an answer to a question.

    Also I’ve noticed lately the oxymoronic combo of “Yeah, no…”, again as an answer to a question (when the answer is indeed “no”). I wonder if the “Yeah” is meant to convey understanding of the question, and the “no” is the actual answer.

    • Posted October 16, 2019 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      Elizabeth Warren was prolific in her use of preliminary “so”s in the debate last night.

      • JezGrove
        Posted October 16, 2019 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        A while ago, a contributor to BBC Radio 4’s “Feedback”, which broadcasts and addresses BBC Radio listeners’ gripes, complained about the frequency with which expert interviewees began their answers with “So,..”. I hadn’t noticed the use of the preliminary “So…” before, but it has been annoying me ever since. Thanks, “Feedback”!

    • davidintoronto
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      “…nothing is added when tacking “So” to the beginning of an answer to a question.”

      “So” sounds jarring to me. But apparently it’s a recognized interjection – and functions much like “well” does (at the beginning of an answer). Personally, “well” seems more natural. But I can’t rationalize its superiority over “so.”

    • Geoff Toscano
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know how the word ‘so’ came to be used in this context, but it seems to be quite a recent phenomenon. It replaces the word ‘well’ which, by and large, is a pause word, one that gives you an extra split second of thinking time, without the dreaded ‘err’.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      I think “so” at the start of a sentence (particularly an interrogatory sentence) can have a valuable, particularized use. Problem is, it’s too often used to no purpose.

      Appropriately used, It can lend an in medias res feel, thrusting the reader or listener into the middle of the action, especially when used ironically or sardonically — the feel of a guy dashing through the closing doors of a subway at the last second, straightening himself up, looking around, and saying, “So, who didn’t think I’d make it?”

      But as used in most instances (especially when spoken), including by Elizabeth Warren during last night’s debate, it’s merely a throat-clearer.

    • Lynne
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      “Yeah, No” is Canadian. It is intended to convey an understanding of the question/request followed by a swift response to said question/response. We also, on occasion say “No, Yeah” just to keep other nationalities confused.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 16, 2019 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

        Kiwis do the same thing “yeah nah”.

        • Posted October 16, 2019 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

          I like “Yeah. No.” It’s a short and punchy way of saying “I understand your point but don’t at all agree with it. Don’t bother trying to explain it further. I’ve processed it already and reached my conclusion.”

    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted October 17, 2019 at 6:17 am | Permalink

      It seems that often people who object to the use of ‘so’ in this way are entirely tolerant of ‘well’ being used in pretty much the same way as a kind of space filler with no real function in the sentence. Maybe the use of well is just much longer established?

      • Jonathan Wallace
        Posted October 17, 2019 at 6:19 am | Permalink

        Apologies – I’ve just glanced back up through the comments and seen that the same point has already been made.

  5. j robinson
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I just thought of a second: It annoys me how any collection is now said to be “curated”. As in “the selection of jellies was curated by an expert.” or “the box is filled with a carefully curated selection of children’s books.”

    • vtvita
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      Hand selected.

  6. Posted October 16, 2019 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    I was wondering what an influencer was. Now I get it!

    • grasshopper
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      An influenza is nothing to be sneezed at if she goes viral.

  7. Posted October 16, 2019 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    The phrase, “. . . is the new normal.” I tune out when I hear this, a twin to this, at least for me, is “we reached out to”. I suppose that saying we attempted to make contact with, or we contacted so and so is too stodgy?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 17, 2019 at 5:23 am | Permalink

      I detest all uses of the “x is the new y” construction. It was clever and original for about 5 microseconds after its invention.
      “Green is the new beige” or whatever.

      Now it’s just some trendy phrase that presumably has some meaning to the initiated, and leaves all normal people slightly baffled.

      As for ‘reached out to’ it’s utter BS, just a pretentious way to say ‘asked for a comment’.

      cr

      • Posted October 17, 2019 at 10:12 am | Permalink

        I wish I had said it as clearly and succinctly as you just did.

    • JP415
      Posted October 17, 2019 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      I hear customer service people use “reach out to” a lot. I noticed it about four or five years ago and thought it sounded maudlin and sentimental, as in “reach out in the darkness” or something.

      • Posted October 17, 2019 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

        That’s about the same time frame I noticed it as well. The higher ups at work began using it at every twist and turn. However, as you put it–reach out in the darkness-is far more poetic, and there’s probably a good start for song lyrics. To say, we reached out to so and so, sounds so inauthentic and down right insincere.

  8. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    I mentioned this on today’s Hili – a much needed counterpart to this delightful^* website feature would be “words I love” – because there were a bunch on today’s Hili that were in fact great – ratiocination among them.

    *”delightful” in that the ghastly language farts on display are much needed objects of derision

  9. Mike Anderson
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    “Influencer” is an accurate description of a job (or money making activity) in the new economy.

    I’m not crazy about the fact that this activity has acquired such importance, but the term is accurate.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

      I think, from reading Jerry’s description, that he hates the idea of influencers more than the term to describe him. I have to agree. It’s a symptom of such a superficial, wasteful society.

      • rickflick
        Posted October 16, 2019 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

        I hate to think of myself as being under anybodies influence, much less that of an influencer. It makes me feel like a sheep.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted October 17, 2019 at 5:26 am | Permalink

          My usual reaction to any attempt to influence me is to do the opposite. (Unless it’s done very subtly).

          There are still products I boycott because their stupid adverts pissed me off. 😦

          cr

          • rickflick
            Posted October 17, 2019 at 10:18 am | Permalink

            You’d probably join me in paying Christians not to pray for you. 😎

        • Jonathan Wallace
          Posted October 17, 2019 at 6:42 am | Permalink

          It would be nice to think that one is not under anyone’s influence but probably unrealistic. It’s not necessarily always a bad thing either – many of us have been influenced for the good by a particularly inspiring teacher, for example. The ability and commitment to thinking critically about the information we are fed is itself something that we can acquire and develop through the influence of others.
          Having said that I guess that the kind of influencing you have in mind is when we are lured into irrational decisions by cheap emotional trickery. Even then I think that probably very few of us are completely immune. We resist most of the time but every now and then the advertisers find some way to slip past our defences!

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted October 18, 2019 at 4:41 am | Permalink

            Admitted. 🙂

            cr

  10. Linda Calhoun
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Phrases I hate are those masquerading as sentences, when they are not. They should be separated from their previous sentence by a COMMA, not a period.

    It most especially irks me when this is done by people who should know better, but think they are writing with “style”. If you are so ignorant that you don’t know that a sentence contains a subject and a verb, why should the ideas expressed have any credibility?

    L

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      I see nothing wrong with using sentence fragments, so long as one does it intentionally, for rhetorical effect, rather than out of ignorance that complete sentences require subject and predicate. Many great writers do it frequently, to set a mood. Here, for example, is the opening paragraph of Jonathan Franzen’s novel The Corrections:

      The Madness of an autumn prairie cold front coming through. You could feel it: something terrible was going to happen. The sun low in the sky, a minor light, a cooling star. Gust after gust of disorder. Trees restless, temperatures falling, the whole northern religion of things coming to an end. No children in the yards here. Shadows lengthened on yellowing zoysia. Red oaks and pin oaks and swamp white oaks rained acorns on houses with no mortgage. Storm windows shuddered in the empty bedrooms. And the drone and hiccup of a clothes dryer, the nasal contention of a leaf blower, the ripening of local apples in a paper bag, the smell of the gasoline with which Alfred Lambert had cleaned the paintbrush from his morning painting of the wicker love seat.

      • Roger
        Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

        This!

      • Linda Calhoun
        Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        I could maybe see it in fiction (maybe), but in news articles or analyses, I hate it.

        There are two main tools in reporters’ kits: research and wordsmithing. If someone is sloppy with one, why is it not a fair question to wonder if s/he is sloppy with the other?

        Fads in writing come and go, but the basics still need to be mastered. I don’t think most of the writers who do this have any idea that it’s incorrect.

        L

      • Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

        Wonderful! Beautiful! Humorous!. Now I’ll have to add this to my humongous (hated word) list of books to read.

      • rickflick
        Posted October 16, 2019 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

        That’s fun to read. Can you continue…?

  11. John Crisp
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    The thing that is really poisoning the language is the ubiquitous and indiscriminate use of the word “toxic”.

    And yes, Brits are just as guilty of “the thing is… is” as Americans. I expect I set myself, though I haven’t yet caught myself at it.

    • JezGrove
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      I just caught you…

  12. JezGrove
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    It’s been going since 2016, but “Fake news” has to be on the list. You said something, it was broadcast on TV and watched by millions, and then you dismiss ever having said it by calling it “fake news”? Enough already!

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      I blame Trump for that. It used to be that fake news was an accurate descriptor of news that was falsified but then Trump started using it in the way you described and all hell broke loose.

      • JP415
        Posted October 17, 2019 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, Trump co-opted the term and turned it into a propaganda tool, thereby ruining a useful phrase.

    • Bill Morrison
      Posted October 17, 2019 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      Read this:

      In the last sentence: “Hitler and the Nazis had found the simple slogan they repeated again and again to discredit reporters: “Lügenpresse.” Today the extreme right in Germany has revived this term, which in English is “fake news.””

  13. Posted October 16, 2019 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Post-fact — “We are now living in a post-fact world.” No we aren’t. The facts are still there, as is the term “denial” for those who compulsively deny them. It’s nothing new.

    On the positive side, the Overton window seems to have shifted far enough for people to realise it’s stupid to use a word if you have to explain it before anyone can understand it, and those who understand it already know what you were going to say with it anyway. (I think ‘normalise’ originated as Vietnam War propaganda, didn’t it? But anyway, that’s a good enough alternative and everyone immediately knows what you’re talking about, without having to explain who Overton was and what his window means.)

  14. mightyog
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    A former co-worker constantly put “Here’s the thing…” and “The thing is…” together into the even more egregious “Here’s the thing is…” when trying to make some point.

    • Geoff Toscano
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I particularly dislike ‘now here’s the thing’, but I don’t know why. I think it originally was made popular by Robert Peston, a BBC journalist who came to prominence in his reporting of the financial crash.

  15. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    A phrase I can’t say I “hate,” but which has recently become an annoying, constant cliché among the chattering class of politicians and pundits is “walk and chew gum at the same time.” I hear it all the time now, about congress conducting an impeachment inquiry and enacting legislation, or about pretty much anyone anywhere doing two things at once.

    It may recently have come into vogue for these people, but its a hoary old expression. Just how old, I don’t know, but I recall distinctly the first time I ever heard it:

    I was in the car driving home with my dad from a Little League baseball game. He had taken a turn that season managing our team. (My dad wasn’t a typical “Little League parent”; he was a student of the game and just wanted to teach the kids a few fundamentals and see ’em have some fun.)

    Anyway, there was a particularly uncoordinated kid on our team. My father would stick in right field for half of each game and hope to hell he didn’t hurt himself trying to field a fly ball. On this particular day, the kid had turned a single into a three-run homer by letting a ball bounce between his legs. On the ride home my old man turned to me and said, “Damn, son, that Billy’s a sweet kid, and as long as I’m manager of this team, he’ll get his three and a half innings every game. But I doubt the boy can walk and chew gum at the same time.”

    That phrase has stuck with me ever since, and I resent the blabbermouths who’re ruining it for me now.

    • JezGrove
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      As a Brit, I first heard the phrase used as a slur against Gerald Ford.

    • Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      I think that phrase has been used for so long it is an unassailable part of the English language. The real crime is the failure on the speaker’s part to take advantage of an opportunity to choose some other, more interesting, analogy. Found on the interweb: Someone suggests LBJ said that Gerald Ford couldn’t fart and chew gum at the same time. I like it, but it can’t be used in all contexts.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 16, 2019 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

        LBJ, who thought him dimwitted, famously said of Gerald Ford — who started at center and linebacker on the football team during his college days at Michigan U — that he must’ve forgot to put on his helmet. 🙂

        • Filippo
          Posted October 19, 2019 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

          LBJ: “Being President is like being a mule out in a hailstorm – you just have to stand there and take it.”

  16. chewy
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    I had a boss once with a talent for mangling language, but he could be entertaining/annoying with his “What it is is it’s ….” I think that counts as a triple “is”. He was famous for his “What he means is….” right after a judge or law professor or other Important Person had just expounded on a significant topic.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      Yeah I had a boss who described someone doing a complete “360” as a metaphor for some one changing their mind. So basically, they turned around and came back to where they started.

      • uommibatto
        Posted October 16, 2019 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

        Ha! I once had a boss who described an employee who was responsible for making sure all of our software code was backed up properly as “our master of duplicity.”

        In fairness, English was our boss’s second language. However, the employee being singled out was British, and properly educated as you might expect. I looked at his face when this job description was uttered; his eyebrows arched ever so slightly.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted October 16, 2019 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

          That’s funny. I would have called him that on purpose just like I call people at work with colds “sick bastards”. 🙂

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

          “our master of duplicity” — sounds like a description Conan Doyle might’ve used for Mr. Holmes’s arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarity. 🙂

      • Jonathan Wallace
        Posted October 17, 2019 at 6:54 am | Permalink

        ‘Doing a complete 360’ might be a useful phrase to refer to someone who does indeed come back to their original opinion/position having changed his or her mind once or more times previously. There are certainly some indecisive people out there who are perfectly capable of flip-flopping in this way!

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted October 17, 2019 at 8:40 am | Permalink

          Yes and then it would be funny and witty but, unfortunately, in this instance it incorrectly referred to someone completely changing their mind and the person should have said 180.

  17. Frank Bath
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    “So I turned round and said..” meaning they replied, is widespread in the UK. People lard a reported disagreement with it.(So much so it’s a wonder they never keeled over.) Do you have this irritation in the North America? Down Under?
    Also ‘you know’ at the end of every other phrase or sentence.

  18. Steve Pollard
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    ‘Relatable’. Really annoying.

  19. Keith
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    I’ve had about enough of the “locally sourced” craze. I read or hear that term on almost every menu or other description of food. It’s just a fancy way of saying “we got it from around here.” Well that could mean you got it out of the dumpster behind your restaurant!
    I realize it’s an attempt to support local growers or makers and can increase the fresh factor by reducing transport time, but at least change up the term once in a while. How about “nabbed nearby” or “yanked from the ‘hood?”

    • uommibatto
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      I could get behind “yanked from the ‘hood”!

      Your comment reminded me of the Colin the Chicken segment from “Portlandia.” Fred Armisen asks several times (in a row) whether or not the chicken is “local” or not.

      Larry Smith

    • Mike Anderson
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      Locally source is very important to some.

      • Mike Anderson
        Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

        Someone beat me to it. Might as well delete my redundant youtube post above.

        • Jonathan Wallace
          Posted October 17, 2019 at 6:59 am | Permalink

          It’s not redundant – for whatever reason the first post cannot be played in the UK but yours can.

  20. uommibatto
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    I hate the term “bad actor,” used to describe anyone from someone you disagree with to a dictator. It sort of downplays and muddies their bad behavior, letting others know you admit the person is unsavory in some way but without taking a stand as to how bad they really are.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      It’s also confusing because are they a bad performing artist or a bad person in general? Or are they really a good person but playing a bad person…or are they a bad person playing a good person badly?

      • Roger
        Posted October 16, 2019 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

        Maybe they are an actor with unspecified talent but a bad person.

    • Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      I think you hit the definition perfectly. If that was the speaker’s intent, then is “bad actor” ok?

      I don’t think “actor” refers to a performer at all but an agent, someone or some organization who takes actions, “bad” ones in this case.

      Interestingly, it looks like the SEC uses the term, though in scare quotes: https://www.sec.gov/info/smallbus/secg/bad-actor-small-entity-compliance-guide.htm

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

        Ohhhhh. That explains things.

  21. Alan Clark
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Snuck. What’s wrong with Sneaked?
    Also Dove instead of Dived.

    • merilee
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      I like snuck and dove.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 16, 2019 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

        Me too.

        • merilee
          Posted October 16, 2019 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

          Snuck seems, paradoxically, much sneakier than sneaked.

    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted October 17, 2019 at 7:02 am | Permalink

      I think dove vs dived reflect where you come from – dove is used in North America and dived in the UK. Not sure what the preference is in other parts of the anglophone world…

    • Robert Bray
      Posted October 17, 2019 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      Several online arbiters of English usage judge that ‘snuck,’ as the past tense of ‘to sneak,’ is substandard but ‘acceptable.’ And so it is, and will no doubt eventually drive ‘sneaked’ out of English language territory.

      Yet ‘snuck’ is an ugly word; its only virtue is that, in rhyme-poor English, it’s ready-made for you-know-what.

      Did the dove dove? (I thunk so!)

  22. Roger
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Lasagna/lasagne. Been spelling it lasagne for ages and then noticed people spelling it lasagna and thought I was a fool. Looked it up and realized maybe I’m not a fool. Too damn confusing. Change the name to something more sane, but keep the delish dish. And if anyone complains about delish you don’t get any lasagne or lasagna.

    • merilee
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

      Lasagne is/are da plural.

      • Roger
        Posted October 16, 2019 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

        To add further confusion, some boxes say lasagne and some say lasagna. I didn’t want to buy only one noodle!

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted October 16, 2019 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

          I never even noticed. I’m such a oblivious ignoramus.

          • Roger
            Posted October 16, 2019 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

            No you’re not! Most boxes have more than one noodle anyway. If not all boxes!

            • Posted October 16, 2019 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

              And the singular might apply to the dish while the plural to the noodles. Italians, what say you?

              • merilee
                Posted October 16, 2019 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

                When I lived in Italia I believe the dish was always called lasagne.
                Oh, another (pedeantic) gripe. Panini is the PLURAL of panino, so you should not order A panini. And don’t get me started on bruschetta, which is pronounced brusketta….

              • Posted October 16, 2019 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

                I didn’t know that about panini. I imagine it happened when someone saw a restaurant advertising they make “panini” and thought, “Yes, I would like a panini, please.”

                It works both ways. When I was young, I owned a telescope which was made in Japan. The “English” instructions that came with it had a section entitled, “Care of the len”. It put a smile on my face for the whole day.

              • merilee
                Posted October 16, 2019 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

                Love “len”😂
                I have a fireplace-tool set that had to be assembled with translated-from-the-Chinese instructions. They kept referring to the “york”. Finally figured out that they must have meant “yoke” (york->yolk->yoke), the thingie that the tools hang from.

              • Posted October 16, 2019 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

                That must really confuse those that live in one of the many Yorks in the world.

              • merilee
                Posted October 16, 2019 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

                People might think that the damned thing had to be assembled in one of these aforementioned Yorks…

        • merilee
          Posted October 16, 2019 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

          They could make it in a Möbius strip…

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted October 16, 2019 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

            The it’s spelled lasagn∞. 🙂

  23. Zane
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Hear, hear on the influencer critique. Who would have thought so many people would one day aspire to be carefully curated corporate marionettes?

    Others…

    “Problematic”—Spotting this word, particularly in a headline, is a solid cue to prepare for inanity as some trivial offense is repackaged and sold as an outrage for advertising dollars.

    “Chemical-free”—A selling point indifferent to reality. Shampoo, medicine, and food for ghosts, maybe?

    “Epic”—Apparently everything that has ever happened since about 2008 is, in some way or another, epic.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      “Epic” should be reserved for David Lean and Richard Attenborough movies. 🙂

    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted October 17, 2019 at 7:10 am | Permalink

      “Chemical-free”

      This reminds me of a consumer affairs programme on British tv some years ago that was doing an item about food additives. They were reading out the listed ingredients of different products in scandalised tones and the presenter brandished a jar of pickles and exclaimed “this contains something called acetic acid whatever that is!”

      • merilee
        Posted October 17, 2019 at 9:20 am | Permalink

        Acetic acid😂

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted October 17, 2019 at 9:24 am | Permalink

          Acidic acid

          • merilee
            Posted October 17, 2019 at 9:29 am | Permalink

            Dept. of Redundancy Dept.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted October 17, 2019 at 11:34 am | Permalink

              Chai tea and the hoi polloi.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted October 17, 2019 at 9:27 am | Permalink

        I’ll add in this context:

        Processed

        As in “processed food”

  24. Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Bernie Sanders’ starting everything with “Let me be clear …” or “Let us be clear …” is really irritating me. If I remember correctly, one of the other debaters last night also used this phrase.

    • vtvita
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      “Let me be perfectly clear,” declared EW a number of times. So said Nixon, too. Yes?

      • Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

        Yes, it was probably EW. She’s been hanging out with Bernie too long.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 16, 2019 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, “Let me be perfectly clear” was a Nixon verbal tic — and a signal that obfuscation was sure to follow. 🙂

  25. Roger
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    “Conversation” the way Sam Harris says it all the time. Seems like he’s always saying conversation this and conversation that, and now it’s catching on.

    • vtvita
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      Exactly. Thank you. Michael Steele, MSNBC guest commenter, is a major offender.

    • Filippo
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      Re: the wide-spread viral locution, “kind of.”

      In “Making Sense” #170, guest Andrew McAfee, an academic (“kind of”?) absolutely wears out “kind of,” as in, e.g., “This ‘kind of’ happened” or “So-and-So ‘kind of’ did this/that.” What does this locution mean? What meaningful information does it provide? (It also raises its head as “sort of.”) Gravity does not “kind of” act on material objects.

    • Matt
      Posted October 18, 2019 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      “Convo” really irritates me.

  26. mfdempsey1946
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    “On the go” — every phone app promises that you can accomplish anything — learn Portuguese, invest in the stock market, find the love of your life — while racing to and fro over an entire urban landscape, being “productive” (another personal bete noire), as you are supposed to be doing nonstop every day in order to demonstrate your alleged significance to modern society in any form.

    AAAARGH!

  27. Jeannie Hess
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Unpack, as in “We unpack this week’s news for you.” NPR, I’m looking at you.

  28. Diana MacPherson
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    When politicians are asked a question and they begin their answer with “Look”. Don’t tell me what to do! Answer the question!

  29. merilee
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    🐾🐾

  30. Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    “In order”
    Common in technical writing

    I ran in order to catch the bus
    vs
    I ran to catch the bus.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      Yes. I often correct writing that is wordy like that.

      • Posted October 16, 2019 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        Phrases starting with an undefined “it. Again common in technical writing.

        It is obvious the defender fouled the forward.
        vs
        The defender obviously fouled the forward.

  31. Josh Lincoln
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    For some reason I am not fond of “notate” being used anywhere. I also find modifying the adjective “unique” annoying.

  32. vtvita
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    My doctor’s assistant said she would like to grab my height, grab my weight, and grab my pulse. I remarked how overly used grab is these days. She responded with, “How about grab an apple,” gesturing as if to reach up into an apple tree. I suggested, “how about pick an apple”.

  33. Posted October 16, 2019 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    For me, the worst one is ‘awesome’. Among the hundreds of others, “he was diagnosed with cancer”, instead of “his cancer was diagnosed”. It’s the condition that is diagnosed, not the person.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 17, 2019 at 5:32 am | Permalink

      Oh yeah. “Ossum”. (I have been known to rant about this before).

      I suppose the converse is “Offal”.

      cr

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted October 17, 2019 at 6:20 am | Permalink

        It’s funny you mention it – I plugged “awesome” into Google Translate the other day – do you know the Latin? I got “horribilis”.

  34. merilee
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Once during a wine tour in Napa many moons ago, the guide was raving about a wine which he called “typically unique.”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      Hope you didn’t do a spit-take with a mouthful of Cabernet on hearing that one. 🙂

      • merilee
        Posted October 16, 2019 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

        Just about…My neighbor bought a case of the stuff. He said it was pretty uniquely tasty.

  35. Posted October 16, 2019 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Hi folks,

    I am very inclined to believe that the most abused, misused and overused word is “with”, as discussed at length in my post entitled “⚠️ Use WITH Caution Or Not At All 📝📜”, published at https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/use-with-caution-or-not-at-all/

    Another word that has been almost as egregiously abused and misused as “with” is “like”, which will require yet another lengthy and technical post from me to expose.

    • Posted October 16, 2019 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      Be aware that if you’re directing people to read a post on your website, that site, or your comment here, cannot be anonymous. Here’s one of the Roolz:

      If you post a link to your website, referring us or asking us to read something you’ve written on that site, the site cannot be anonymous; there must be a real named person who writes it. You have every right to keep your site anonymous, but I don’t have to link to it, for I believe people should stand behind what they say publicly. That said, I’m not demanding that commenters on my own site reveal their real name. Further, I will not allow “pingbacks” in my site if your site, which has referenced this one or reposted part of one of my posts, cannot be linked to a named and real human.

  36. Jay
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    “Here’s what you need to know.”

  37. thompjs
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    I think I came out clean on this one. Sometimes I get caught using one of these hated words or phrases.

  38. Posted October 16, 2019 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Instead of “spill the tea” I would say “spill the beans.” I am not sure either makes much sense.

    • Posted October 16, 2019 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

      “Spill the tea” conjures up the vision of people seated at a table having tea and gossiping. The news in question was so shocking, it caused one or more of them to spill their tea. “Spill the beans” is defined on Google as:

      “reveal secret information unintentionally or indiscreetly.”

  39. Ned
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    “palling around with ” to invoke guilt-by-association with no actual facts or rationale.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

      That one seems to have blown in with the odious Sarah Palin during her VP run in 2008, when she accused Barack Obama of “palling around with domestic terrorists” (regarding a fundraiser that William Ayers and Bernadette Devlin, who had been members of the Weather Underground back in the 1970s, held at their home for Barack Obama during his first political campaign, for the Illinois state senate in 1996).

  40. samoffat@28gmailcom
    Posted October 16, 2019 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    “passed away” instead of died. People are too scared of death to say the word???? Do any other languages have a similar evasive euphemism?

  41. Posted October 16, 2019 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    I always enjoy your “Words and phrases I hate” posts. Maybe sometime you could put together “Words and phrases I like (and that are under-used and/or under-appreciated).”

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      That’s what I said ^^^^

  42. Posted October 16, 2019 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately Aussies also frequently use the ‘The thing is … is that’ phrase. Even on my beloved ABC.
    I call this the ‘Empty TTIIT’; it adds absolutely nothing to the thought that follows. Does the speaker believe more words = more heft to their thought?
    The word I despise most? The ubiquitous ‘like’ – “I was like … ” – when the speaker is bereft of a better, more descriptive way of describing a moment or a feeling. Even those who ought to know very much better are guilty of this abomination. To listen to them is like (proper use as a comparison) walking down a street littered with tripstones.

    • merilee
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

      And “like” used instead of “said”…

  43. Posted October 16, 2019 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    My peeve is “call out” meaning to criticize. For the first 60+ years of my life, “call out” meant to say something out loud, as in “the student called out the correct answer.” If you want to criticize someone, criticize them. What’s wrong with that word?

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 16, 2019 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

      “Push back” annoys me because it is often applied to just asking a clarifying question or disagreeing in a discussion about a solution. It seems a bit violent to verbally shove someone when really you’re being quite peaceful.

      I really hate “clap back” because it’s just a stupid visual.

      • merilee
        Posted October 16, 2019 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

        Although I must admit I did enjoy seeing Nancy Pelosi doing it to Trump in the oval office that time.

  44. furryirritant
    Posted October 17, 2019 at 3:16 am | Permalink

    What really wears me out is the tired out phrase “at the end of the day.” It has become the favorite useless, throw-away line of countless politicians, speakers and writers.

    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted October 17, 2019 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      “at the end of the day.”

      Popular with footballers in post-match interviews:

      “at the end of the day it was a game of two halves and we gave 110% and winning it was a dream come true”

      • JP415
        Posted October 17, 2019 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

        “At the end of the day, it is what it is.”
        — From a New Yorker Cartoon

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 17, 2019 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      I hate it too and I catch myself saying it. I think it’s because I’ve heard it so many times that I forget how else to express that sentiment of “ultimately” or “once we’ve looked at all the facts”, etc.

  45. Posted October 17, 2019 at 4:51 am | Permalink

    “X is the new Y” is very annoying.

    There was a moderately interesting Lexicon Valley episode about “the thing is,is” if you can tolerate John McWhorter.

  46. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted October 17, 2019 at 5:17 am | Permalink

    One item from PuffHo I thoroughly approve of:

    “Ice Cream truck Owners New Rule: Instagram Influencers Pay Double”

    Nice! 🙂

    cr

    • JP415
      Posted October 17, 2019 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      It should be a federal law!

  47. Posted October 17, 2019 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    One annoying phrase I hear frequently is “try and do” something, rather than “try to do”.

  48. chrism
    Posted October 17, 2019 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    “The thing is. . . is. .. ”

    I do do that.

    (No, not really.)

    • merilee
      Posted October 17, 2019 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      Nothing wrong with do do (unless you step in it…)

  49. Charles Sawicki
    Posted October 17, 2019 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    I find the existence of “Influencers” another disgusting symptom of the existence of enough idiots roaming free to put Trump in the presidency.

  50. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted October 17, 2019 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    I think we need to make a distinction between written words and spoken language here. I have a blast reading these, but soon after, I get the feeling I should stop talking and be ashamed of saying some of these things – sometimes that’s good, sometimes not. It’s still good to do some necessary cleaning up of the spoken word, but they seem to be separate processes, to me – speaking/listening vs. writing/reading.

  51. JP415
    Posted October 17, 2019 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    How about “move the needle”? It means something like, “is this having an effect?” E.g. “Does the Ukraine scandal move the needle on Trump’s poll numbers?” Pundits keep using that phrase all the time now.

    I admit I have an axe to grind against pundits and op-ed writers in general because they all seem to adopt trendy ideas without making much attempt at original thought. They’re band-wagon jumpers! (That’s a cliche, too, but a good one.)

  52. Martin Levin
    Posted October 18, 2019 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    I’m sure I’ve been on this before, but it irks me no end to see “begs the question” used so frequently as a substitute for “raises the question” or “poses the question.” In fact, at least two comments on the question raised in a post by Prof. Coyne re transgender males in women’s prisons use it. Begging the question is a logical fallacy in which the conclusion is already assumed in the premises of an argument, eg, God must be real because the Bible says so, and the Bible was written by God.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 18, 2019 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      I don’t even use that phrase because no matter how many times people explain it to me I just don’t get it. It’s like understanding some things in quantum physics for me.

      • merilee
        Posted October 18, 2019 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        I mix it up, too.

  53. Posted October 18, 2019 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    People use “one rotten apple” in exactly the opposite way that it’s intended to be used. The point is “One rotten apple spoils the whole barrel.”

  54. Matt
    Posted October 18, 2019 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    I hate:

    Wellness instead of health e.g., “This product promotes wellness.”

    Space instead of room e.g., “The curtains go well in this space.”

    Convo instead of conversation.

    Drop instead of does e.g., “Kipchoge dropped a sub-2 hour marathon.”


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