“Stop saying that!!!” Annoying Phrases that Sound Lame and Unoriginal

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Photo credit: Collin Armstrong

OK, maybe it’s just me, but there are some phrases being used a lot with little imagination that irritate me. Why don’t people think about what they are saying than using the same old jargon that doesn’t mean anything?

At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, what irritates me about jargon is that, as a writer, I’m burdened with always finding fresh, new ways of describing something. To fall back on jargon is akin to the dreaded cliché’.

So, I’m blaming the user and challenge those who are too lazy to find a crisp way of saying something thereby rising to the level of an original thinker.

It is not unusual for most of us to have our favorite way of describing something…such as “Awesome.” Recently I had signed up for a kayak lesson. The in instructor used the word “Awesome” for every introduction.

We all have a watershed word — the word that describes something that is important to us. But, really? No other word will do?

Am I a snob? Am I resentful of those who appear to be the cutting edge of what is new and exciting in the world? No, and yes. No, because I’m only trying to elevate my prose. And, yes, because my opinion of those who fall back on jargon is lessened. Some experts declare that slang is a way for people to bond. Those who know the words are members of a clan. Ok, here goes: “Whatever.”

So, let’s get to it. Below is a list of style and vocabulary that is truly annoying.

Uptalk: What is it? It is a style of talking where the intonation at the end of a sentence is upward, as though the person is asking a question, asking for permission or not sure of their statement. It has been blasted by some high-level folks that declare using uptalk is less than impressive. If you have something to say, don’t phrase it as a question. Either you are sure of what you are saying or not. Be decisive.

At the end of the day: End of what day? Today? Tomorrow? What happens the day after that? What does that even mean? This phrase made it to my top five when I heard a man being on NPR use this phrase six times in a three-minute interview.

Just sayin: The Urban Dictionary website explains that the phrase makes it “possible to deliver a rude comment or burn and have it bounce off simply as an opinion disguised as an objective opinion, and who can argue with you over an opinion that you don’t apparently support.”

My bad: It’s a ham-handed way of admitting guilt, but not apologizing for. Call it “Guilt light.” It’s not sincere and puts the other person in an awkward position. Common. Grow up and say you are sorry for real.

I can’t even: Can’t even what? Cry, imagine the situation, understand? What? Tell me. I don’t know what you “Can’t even” about? Are you outraged? Horrified/ Thrilled? Help me out here.

No worries: When I first started hearing “No Worries” it seemed odd. Who is worrying? No worries for you or me? I then learned this little ditty came to us courtesy of Australia. After visiting the down under continent, I was a bit more patient with it. Would love to know the first visitor from Australia or American who began the meme.

Awesome, awesomeness, awsomesauce-Way overused. If you want to be taken seriously, stop using the word Awesome. Get a vocabulary lesson. Something that is truly awesome is remarkable in other ways. Not everything and everyone deserves the word. Get a vocabulary. Just ask Tim Askew who said it best after attending a conference in Nashville, TN. He said every presentation and conversation had the word “Awesome” in it. “Yeah, really awesome, man.” Askew said it was like a lingua franca of evanescent mush, a meme of meaninglessness masquerading as communication and cool.”

Low-hanging fruit: It’s gone and has been picked to oblivion. This phrase is overused in more boardrooms than the conference call equipment. Save it and sound more professional than a Jargon buff.

Outside the box: You would think this phrase had expired by now. But, nope. It is still uttered by the less than original thinkers. The phrase may at one time, been useful and original, but that was a very long time ago.

Epic: If you really want to be literal about the word, here it goes: Merriam Webster-Epic “adjective, Also, epical. noting or pertaining to a long poetic composition, usually centered upon a hero, in which a series of great achievements or events is narrated in elevated style: Homer’s Iliad is an epic poem.” So, anything less is not epic, OK? Think of something else, such as incredible. At least that would be the correct usage for something amazing.

Having said that: The phrase makes the speaker sound intelligent and knowledgeable, but too bad it is often misused or just pretentious. Another phrase, or “that said.” It is a transitional phrase that precedes something that may contradict the earlier part of the sentence, such as: The writing was not great literary work, that said, the story was compelling.

I’m going to stop here as there are many more annoying words and phrases, but I don’t want to try and tackle them all. In addition to my list, if you care to research other “annoying words” you will find lists and lists online.

My point? Find an original way to describe something instead of being the person who can’t find a fresh way to express yourself.

What are your top annoying words or phrases?

Written by

Master researcher, journalist and non-fiction author. My new book, San Francisco Values will be out in June 2020. Connect with me at gerispieler.com

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