More words and phrases I hate

July 11, 2019 • 1:15 pm

It’s that time of year when the heat makes one splenetic, ready to denounce phrases used by the young, woke, or “with-it”.  Here are a few of my most despiséd terms, and of course you’re welcome to add yours.

It’s time for the Daily Two Minutes of Hate!

1.) “Back in the day”.  Of course this means “way back when” or “in old times that I remember”, but it’s annoyingly imprecise. When I hear it I want to ask, “In WHAT day? When?” It seems easier to say, “When I was a child” or something similar.

Example from

He’s a resilient guy, this Conan O’Brien, and now he’s rising from the ashes again, re-re-re-bearded and ready to puppet dance, hoping to promote his C-SPAN3 show by making guest appearances on everything from CNN’s “Spitzer Blagojevich’’ to “The Daily Show With Dennis Miller.’’ But we’ve known O’Brien is a fighter since back in the day, when he was the David to Jay Leno’s Goliath.

2.) “Passed” for “died”.  This, of course, is a euphemism designed to avoid the word “died” or even the notion that someone is gone for good. Further, it implies that there’s an afterlife: that somebody passed on the way to somewhere else. We need to face up to the fact that everyone is going to die, but one way to deny that is to use words like “passed”. Now I don’t call out people for using that about someone they knew, as that would be churlish, but it still curls the soles of my shoes when I hear it.

“Passed away”, however, is better and doesn’t rankle nearly so much.

3.)Salty”. I can’t tell you how much I despise this word, which, according to the Urban Dictionary, means “when you are upset over something little.” Alternatively: “The act of being upset, angry, or bitter as result of being made fun of or embarassed. Also a characteristic of a person who feels out of place or is feeling attacked.”

Here’s one example by a social-media-savvy Congressional representatives who is trying to be cool (note the Spanish—an attempt to show solidarity with her equally vocal sister).  I also can’t stand the “sorry not sorry” phrase, which is odious but should at least have a comma or semicolon after the first word:

4.) “It is what it is.” (I’m sure I’ve highlighted this before.) A friend said this the other day and I said, “What does that mean?” The response: “You can’t do anything about the situation.” But often that’s not the case, and if that’s true then the phrase devolves to a watered-down version of Vonnegut’s “so it goes.” In other words, it’s a conversational place filler meant to make you sound cool.

Your turn!

276 thoughts on “More words and phrases I hate

    1. “That” is almost always alone sufficient. I seem to recall a passage in Elements of Style where EB White recommends that the first two words always be stricken (while admitting that he had managed to do so himself only about half the time in his own prose).

      1. I couldn’t resist looking it up, and the passage is so lyrical, I can’t help myself from quoting it here:

        I suppose I have written the fact that a thousand times in the heat of composition, revised it out maybe five hundred times in the cool aftermath. To be batting only .500 this late in the season, to fail half the time to connect with this fat pitch, saddens me, for it seems a betrayal of the man who showed me how to swing at it and made the swinging seem worthwhile.

        1. Baseball references. S.J.Gould was the chief offender in this regard. They mean nothing to a non-American audience.

          Shouldn’t be used in a book intended for international publication (as Gould’s presumably were).

          I’d say the same about an English author filling their book with cricket-isms (sticky wicket, keep a straight bat, first eleven, yadda yadda) but I haven’t observed any that do, at least not to the extent that Gould did.

          Oh, obligatory 😎


          1. I’ve used “sticky wicket” on rare occasion (but, I’ll confess, I originally thought it was a term from croquet). 🙂

  1. I agree wholeheartedly with you about salty; IMO it has been perverted entirely away from the meaning that I’ve grown accustomed to: salty adj in reference to the great amounts of experience long time mariners have acquired. Ex., That painedumonde is one great boatswain’s mate – he’s salty.

      1. That’s the way I hear it, though a “salty dog” is an old guy who has no pretenses, not necessarily one who cusses a lot.

        1. I always wondered about the meaning of “Old Salty Dog” when I heard a recording of Jelly Roll Morton singing it.

        1. Agree with above. Here in coastal NC, someone is salty if they are old mariners who have been fishing all their lives, talk with a certain dialect and are set in their opinions. It is neither a compliment or a criticism. I had never heard of the new woke use of this term.

    1. I always took ‘salty’ as a euphemism for ‘bad’ language. Of course that is entirely commensurate with its application to ancient mariners. 😉


    1. Ni modo, from “La vida es dura, ni modo,” if you prefer to appropriate culturally closer to home. Translates roughly as “nothing for it.”

      1. I have to disagree – I first came across the phrase in short stories by Damon Runyon and it fitted right in with his narrative style.

        1. Runyon is a special case. A very special case. A distinctive mixture of formal circumlocutions, euphemisms, slang, and of course totally eschewing the past tense.

          My favourite line (of many thousands):

          ‘They are vexed with me (Gentleman George says) because one night I take Lou Adolia’s automobile out on the salt meadows near Secaucus, N.J., and burn it to a crisp, and it seems I forget to remove Lou Adolia first from same.’


      2. Good, bad, or indifferent. I hate that stupid phrase. People I know who use it think they are being so profound.

  2. Going forward

    Guessing it was coined by a shifty business person in the 2000s – now ubiquitous.

    News speak for ignoring anything hideous that has happened, negating history and reflexivity.

    Its also a ‘look over there at the future’ distraction from real problems.

    Rant over, thanks for asking.

    1. I deal with groups with a lot of baggage with the past. I’m going to start using “ignoring anything hideous that has happened…”

  3. I’ve said it before. I absolutely cringe when I read/hear “It begs the question” in place of “It raises the question”.

    I hear it used so much that I jump when I hear it used correctly. I was listening to Hitchens on Youtube, and when he used it correctly it jolted me.

    Even worse is “The question begs”. OUCH!!!

    1. For me, it’s like using “ironic” – I’m never certain I’m using it correctly, and I usually become crestfallen over the whole thing. In fact I might quit trying at all to use the phrases…

    2. I’m more shocked when I hear “begs the question” used correctly. I have to do a double take and examine whether it was, in fact, correct.

  4. I hate it when someone says “I am going to try and do…..something…”. Should it not be “I am going to try TO do….something…”?

    While we are at it: I watched a reporter on one of the local television stations (I rarely do that)recently start almost every sentence in your bit with the word “Now”. ??

        1. Haha I do that as well. I say “so” a lot because I have to do a lot of explaining and leading up to and want to signal that I’ve now gotten to the point. Usually when I see “so” in what I’ve written, it indicates I’ve babbled in for too long and probably given too much information all at once and everyone is confused now.

        2. But I like using so as in “So!?” It’s annoying and annoys the other person in you dismissal of whatever idea you find stupid that they just expressed.

          1. That kind of “so” (so?) is a completely different kettle o’ fish. A kind of smart-assed “so what?” (You so-and-so).

          2. That’s one of the meanings of the Yiddish word “Nu?” — a language I do not speak, but which I borrow from as much as possible. I love the sound and rhythm of the words (and the way they can express certain ideas with so much more concision and oomph than English).

    1. WordPress’s editor function got me out of that habit. It never occurred to me how silly it is. As if first I’m going to try (???), and then do something.

      And usually I’m not even going to try to do something, but rather just do it, in which case I don’t even need to say I’m going to do it.

  5. Never new that’s what salty meant. I always thought it was used to describe the use of colorful language and that it was derived from the stereotype of sailors as fluent cursers.

    1. I guess it’s from someone tasting the salt of their own tears. The exaggeration oddly seems to tone down the meaning; hyperbole “for crying eyes out” over something actually trivial.

    2. That nautical meaning is exactly my understanding of it too. Presumably it faded out and has been hijacked by the trendy Tw*tter generation.


      1. Better watch out – I think Yoda was commenting here

        …. sorry if you don’t get that joke. Star Wars.

  6. AAAACCKKK! And another one – business jargon.

    My best friend was applying for a job and she asked me to read over what she’d written. It was awful! “My passion is to grow my whatever (and it wasn’t flowers or tomatoes).” I forget after all this time just what it was she wrote.

    But it was chock-full this miserable jargon. She went on and on with these trite and hackneyed words. It hurt my head to read it, and I asked her if she really meant to write those things.

    She said that was what the company was looking for. They like that kind of slogan-ish talk. Okay, I understand. I’d been looking for a job and refused to apply because the paperwork was full of that jargon. I guess some businesses like that.

    1. Yeah, I hate that use of “grow”, too. You can legitimately grow plants, or your hair or nails, but not your bysiness😖

        1. I guess that’s semi-OK…Not that I’m an expert. I guessI just agree with Laurance that “grow” is used way too promiscuously these days.

        2. That’s fine. I think what Merilee was getting at (and I agree with her) is the use of “grow” as a transitive verb — as in “grow the economy” (a phrase for which I think Bill Clinton is the main culprit).

          1. Yes, Ken, that is what I meant. “Grow the economy” is annoying. I guess you’d need a lot of water and fertilizer/bullshit? What’s wrong with stimulating the economy.

            Btw, another exp’n that gets my 🐐 is “price point.” What’s wrong with price, for chrissakes.

              1. I think you’re right. “At this point in time, I’d like a little extra time to think about what I’m about to say…”

              1. @merilee:

                Hey, I might be a naïve and a fool, but my daddy raised me to be a gentleman. 🙂

          2. Absolutely agree with you. The use of ‘grow’ as a transitive verb, applied to anything except plants, really annoys me.


              1. Those don’t mean the same thing. When you say you want to grow the business you mean you want to make more sales to more customers. Development and improvement may be part of that but there are other strategies to grow a business. For example, you can buy other businesses or do marketing campaigns.

              2. I think they do mean basically the same thing, but “grow”, in this case, just somehow sounds inelegant/jargonish.

              3. I really don’t know, Jeremy. I’m no expert on business. I just find that I am annoyed by the current overuse of “grow” as a transitive verb.

              4. it’s ok to say “I want to make my business grow”, if your in agriculture. 😎

    2. There are certain words that are (absolutely) required as virtue/knowledge/compliance signalling for certain types of jobs.

      For instance: Public school teachers. You must say the right words (or as I, paraphrasing Evelyn Waugh (and David Crosby), like to say: Fly your (freak) flags and/or fly more flags).

    3. ‘Passionate’ makes me want to scream. Is it permissible for anyone to just be good at their job? Why do they have to be ‘passionate’ about it, fer Godzsake? ‘The successful applicant will be passionate about marketing dietary supplements’. Then he’s a moron.

      (Oh, and this ‘the successful applicant will…’ circumlocution. What’s wrong with ‘we are looking for someone who…’? )


      1. Oh, and this ‘the successful applicant will…’ circumlocution. What’s wrong with ‘we are looking for someone who…’? )


    1. passed on

      is no more

      ceased to be

      expired and gone to meet his maker

      a stiff

      bereft of life

      rests in peace

      pushing up the daisies

      metabolic processes are now history

      off the twig

      kicked the bucket

      shuffled off his mortal coil

      run down the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisible

      ex parrot

      1. Wasn’t there a Johnny Carson routine where he is giving a eulogy, and he goes through all those terms?

    2. PS I hate “passed”. In fact, I’m sure Jerry has put it on here to stop me from posting it every time he has a “words I hate” post.

      Every time somebody says “x has passed”, I want to say “passed what? A kidney stone?”

  7. Whenever you do this is surprises me that it does not annoy you when people use the word “evolution” in any way besides biological evolution. People do this to be cool. It is not cool. I wish I could convince you to be as annoyed by this as I am!

  8. Midway through reading your #3 I thought of “It is what it is”. But then I came to your #4 and saw that that is what that was.

        1. This is very much a UK phenomenon. I don’t think Canadians and Americans ever use “sat” and “stood” in this way (unless they’re immigrants from the UK). Not sure about other parts of the English speaking world like Australia and New Zealand.

        2. I approve only if used in the transitive sense — “We were sat at a table near the door by the maître d′.”

            1. He pulled out my chair, as I pulled out the chair of my dining companion, if you must know. 🙂

              But I think the key point is that he picked out the table.

              The seated/sat distinction can get a bit tricky in restaurant work:

              Hostess to customer: “Are you waiting to be seated?”

              Hostess to waiter: “I sat them in your station.”

              1. My smart assed remark was directed more toward the passive voice resulting in ambiguity.

  9. OUR ORANGE PRESIDENT has the “jackpot” of them.

    “lets see what happens”–that is his most used one at the press.

    “that I can tell you”
    is one I hear him say most often, and the phrase really means nothing.

    “i,m not a fan” and “that’s a good thing, not a bad thing”.

    Trump is the ambassador of Newspeak.

  10. I have to disagree with PCC on “back in the day”. To my ear, it’s an idiom that references a past social context implicitly shared by the speaker and the audience, and isn’t stylistically equivalent to any other phrase. In the example given, the past social context is when Conan and Jay were rivals on late-night TV, and everyone reading the piece is likely to know that, and “back in the day” is shorthand. Spelling it out in specifics, aside from being lengthy and unnecessarily formal, could imply that the audience might not share the context, which is something the speaker may not intend. Of course, “back in the day” could be overused, but it has its place.

    My gripe: “Over his/her skis”, as when a politician rashly takes a position on an issue that is unclear. I used to hear this a lot on cable news, but it seems to have faded.

        1. Rather implausibly, the first use of the phrase was in P.G. Wodehouse’s “Right Ho, Jeeves” in the 1920s! (I had to download the book from Project Gutenberg and check for myself because it seemed so unlikely…)

            1. Bertie Wooster’s cousin, Madeline Bassett, is aquaplaning in the French Riviera and jumps said shark. Her fiance isn’t on the trip, and when she tells him about the incident he is dismissive, saying it was probably only a tiny and harmless dog fish. Naturally, it requires Jeeves’ inimitable powers to save the impending marriage.

    1. I’ve always heard it as “Back in MY day.” For some reason, that does not bother me like “Back in the day” does.

  11. I hate it when someone is being interviewed by the media, and the interviewer asks the interviewee a question, and the interviewee responds with either “sure” or “absolutely.” On a related note, I REALLY hate how nowadays ALL interviewees, after being thanked by interviwers say, “Thank you for having me.” Even worse is when they say “It’s been a pleasure” AFTER they’ve just spoken about climate change or kids being kept in cages. Really? It’s been a PLEASURE to talk about such things?

    1. I agree with you on the “sure” and “absolutely” (especially the former!), but don’t see anything wrong with “Thanks for having me.” I agree with Stephen that “back in the day” is not all that bad.

      1. I am afraid that I am reminded of a pageful of cartoons in the long-gone and unlamented ‘Punch’ magazine on the theme of ‘swinging’ parties. The final one showed a female guest shaking hands with the host, and saying ‘Thank you for having me’, to which the host replied ‘Thank you for coming’.


      2. I don’t think EXPERTS in various fields should express thanks for being interviewed. AND, have you noticed how interviewees all use the first name of the journalist? “Thank you for having me, Scott.” It’s a big waste of air time besides being way too chummy. I don’t want my news to seem like one big happy family. Sorry. NPR is driving me crazy these days. FURTHER (oh, god, forgive me!), young female journalists should all hie themselves to speech coaches. WHY do they all have voices that sound like they’re 12? (Lulu—Sunday morn host—don’t use the word “awesome” ever again, as long as you live!)

  12. “It is what it is.” Comes from New England Patriots coach Bill Bellichick(sp?). He is famous for saying nothing at his press conferences. Compare this with cartoon character Popeye’s, “I am what I am.” Existentialism?

    John J. Fitzgerald

    1. As for coaches not saying anything (useful), the San Antonio Spurs’ coach Greg Popovich, I think, is the absolute master of it.
      My favorite response was when, after a loss for the Spurs, he got a camera and mic stuffed in his face and the reporter asked “Why do you think the team lost tonight?”
      Without missing a beat he deadpanned: “The other team scored more points”, turned around and walked away.

      1. You’re right. And the way things look now — going forward — we might not advance in the future, anyway.

  13. I also despise “passed” for “died”. I originally thought it was a misuse of “passed away” or “passed on”, but I may well be wrong about that. It does indeed have a faint, or not so faint, suggestion of life after death.

    The word that currently gets me very annoyed is “myself” used not reflexively but as an imagined more formal, more polite form of “me”.

    Example: Person A: “Are you a climate change denier?” Person B: “Myself? For sure.”

    1. When I hear “passed” in a sentence about a dead person I seem to mentally insert “gas” into it.

  14. The internet’s obsessive and stupid overuse of “stuns” every time any female celebrity walks on a red carpet — for me, pure fingers-down-the-blackboard time.

    1. I used to hear, “Jaw dropping” a lot. As in, the fireworks display was jaw dropping. The mental image of someone’s mandible becoming detached and hitting the floor with a thud, is never pleasing.

  15. I’ve ever used “salty” only in the sense of scabrous or profane — the kind of talk or act one might expect of an “old salt,” a sailor who’s spent long stretches at sea.

  16. Lived experience.

    Please let me know when you’ve had a dead experience.

    On a related note, I never had the good fortune to have a Dead experience, but I did get to see several Phil Lesh and friends concerts, so I guess that’s close, or at least Dead adjacent, but not a lived Dead experience.

    1. Oh yes! And the implication that your “lived experience” means that certain things are “your truth”. Sorry, there’s truth and falsehood: No proprietorship of truth.

      1. I agree about ‘lived experience’. Ugh!

        ‘Truth’ is an indefinite concept, which is why I prefer to say ‘facts’ (and I don’t mean ‘alternative facts’ which is a synonym for ‘lies’). Or more particularly, ‘the whole truth’, which pulls in so much circumstantial detail it’s impossible to say where the line should be drawn.

        I agree, ‘truth’ can never include anything which is not factually correct (i.e. ‘true’ in the computer-logic sense). But things may be ‘true’ but irrelevant. In fact, 99.9999% of all true facts are likely to be irrelevant to any particular situation. That’s probably why I find ‘truth’, like ‘freedom’, to be a somewhat ill-defined concept.

        Anyway, the people who claim that ‘their truth’ is somehow special and exclusive to them, are just full of BS. They usually mean, their preferences.

        So I think we essentially agree.


      1. But can’t someone who describes a “near death experience” claim a lived live Dead experience? Or wouldn’t going to a Grateful Dead concert qualify?

        1. The concert would qualify, but C missed the chance.

          Near dead experiences wouldn’t qualify unless Jerry Garcia was amongst the “near”. 😉

  17. None of your list particularly annoy me (and there are plenty of words and phrases that do).

    I never even knew that definition of “salty”.

    It is what it is, seems just as good as “that’s the way it goes”, “c’est la vie”, “that’s the way the cookie crumbles”, etc. It’s just that it is such an over-used cliche that it is very tired by now.

    Passed is perfectly respectable (at least when speaking to people who knew the deceased). I really have no issue with euphemisms for death. Whatever gets one through the night …

    Back in the day – same as for It is what it is. It’s just tired now. And used in places where it’s very weak.

    I am annoyed by the extremely common response these days, “right?” expressed as a question (with tone). Either agree with me (state it as a declaration using tone) or ask a proper question (“are you sure?”).

  18. “In terms of”. It is terribly overused in stupid ways and makes for awful prose. E.g.: “In terms of phrases I hate, this irritates me the most.”

    “Most” as a synonym for “almost”, e.g. “Most all people agree.” seems to be an American thing. Can someone explain this?

    1. “Most all” is an American rustic colloquialism. I think it’s fine for casual speech, or in writing when seeking to effect the feel of casual speech.

  19. “Salty” is also a naval term. A seaman of long experience. Often used sardonically. “He’s thinks he’s pretty salty”. Or a green naval person who wishes to appear knowledgeable, for instance by causing new gold braid to become oxidized/corroded by soaking it in seawater.

  20. I am getting quite fed up with ‘reach out’ and ‘in a good place’; and I am really fed up with people who start every goddamn sentence with ‘So’.

    Thankfully, most of these neologisms are like mayflies, and will pass (or pass away) with the seasons. Trouble is that others will arise in their place. Still, that’s natural selection for you.

  21. Here is one I got from the Pearls Before Swine comic. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. But then there is another tunnel. Then there’s the longest tunnel of all. That’s called death. The rat was working on his workplace motivational posters.

    But anyway, the light at the end of the tunnel was always a drag to me.

  22. Fulsome when someone just wants to say “thorough”. Also, I get annoyed with “it is what it is” because usually that really means, “I’m too cowardly to discuss this matter”.

    1. Agree: “Fulsome” misused more often than properly used, so we may have lost is, as we’ve lost “impacted” and (ugh!) “impactful.”

  23. “It is what it is” has become a cliché having essentially the same meaning as the earlier “you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear” (for a generation that’s so far removed from this nation’s agrarian roots that it might not know what a “sow” is).

    Like any cliché, it is to be avoided, although, on rare occasion, it may serve as le cliché juste for a particular situation.

    “Back in the day” is another cliché that started life (I believe) as African-American slang, then passed from there (as these things are wont to do) to the hipsters, and, thence, on to life as a shibboleth of sorts for youth culture.

    I’m hip enough to know I’m so square that, by the time any such saying makes it to my ears, it’s so far past its coolness expiration date that the only safe way to use it is humorously or ironically.

        1. Love the sarcasm 🙂

          However, if I may split a hair, “I’m bad” or “I’m good” are grammatically acceptable – they include a verb and form complete sentences.
          Whereas “my bad” or “my good” do not.

          I do agree that “I’m good” is very often misused where “I’m okay with that” is actually meant, thereby meriting your sarcastic reply.


          1. You are right on. My target is not those who say “I’m good” when I ask them how they are doing, but rather those who say that when “No thank you” is the appropriate response.

  24. Woke jargon sounds both annoying and hilarious at the same time, because of the mismatch between how serious they apparently are, while being too cliché to take seriously.

    The woke classic is “I can’t even” which probably came up before. They originally also made creative attempts to bring across their peculiar woke exasperation, like emphasising every word not just with all caps, but also with a period. For example “I. CAN’T. EVEN.” I give them some respect for their creative histrionic display of outrage.

    Another woke standard are imperatives like “you don’t get to …” (e.g. have an opinion on something), or the commanding “since when have we decided to …” (decided to forgive someone, to accept an apology etc).

    There’s also something special about woke-typical mixing of academic jargon with invective and swearing, beginning with the phrase “my x will be intersectional or it will be bullshit” or “Die in a fire, cis-heteronormative shitlord”.

  25. Thankfully I’ve never heard most of those mentioned above (not living in Trumplandia), but one that does get my goat is ‘reach out to’ for ‘to contact’.

    1. I’ve been reading a lot of standard operating procedures lately for a project I’m doing and they say “reach out to” all over the place. Usually, they mean “email”.

  26. Back in the day, we could count on the likes of William Safire to get salty about these abuses of language. Alas he has passed now, with no obvious replacement, but it is what it is.

  27. For some reason my goat gets gotten when people say “it speaks to…” when they really mean “it relates to…” a problem. It’s just a weird thing to say.

    Another is the antiquated saying for zealousness or enthusiasm — “champing at the bit”. It was always dumb, relating to horse racing, and assumed that the horse a) wants to win the race, and b) thinks the bit in its mouth is holding it back. It then gets made even sillier when people call it “chomping at the bit”. If the horse was doing that the rider would probably fall off backwards.

    And another is the use of “superlative” as a superlative. I just think that’s adjective stupidity.

    And another is the use of full stops between single words To. Make. A. Point. Stop it!

    1. Racehorses do want to win the race.

      Horses do champ at the bit when they are anxious or nervous. I always told clients that a horse’s nervous energy comes out either through its feet or its mouth. After a clinic, I had a rider ask me how to get his mare to stop chewing on her bit. I asked if she stood still for him. Yes, she did. How much did that bit cost? About $15. Well, when she starts to wear through it, buy another. You’re paying $15 for your horse to stand still.

          1. To champ is to “fret impatiently”. But given that it only ever seems to be referred to in relation to a bit, and that people usually mean ‘rearing to go’ it’s further corruption of what horses do.

            Turning it into chomping (which I guess horses can’t do but humans can) makes it odd.

            (I send your doggie a friendly ear rub!)

            1. My Lucy Goosey Poochie sends thanks for the ear rub.😀🐾🐾

              Why can’t horses chomp? I always thought it was”raring” to go, but I guess that’s a bastardization of “rearing”. That had never occurred to me before.

      1. I like “bought the farm” as well. Then there’s “shit the bed;” often used when referring to machinery: “My computer shit the bed.”

        1. Shit the bed is used for people too. Usually when it’s someone doing well and suddenly they screw up.

      2. I suppose that’s a reference to spending all your savings on an enterprise that is likely to go under.

  28. I don’t know if it’s much used, but I heard and immediately disliked the phrase, “go hard over on”, as in, “we won’t go hard over on you guys if you finish on time.”
    This was kicked around back in the day, but I haven’t heard of late. Is “of late” OK?

    1. That sounds like a version of the Canadian expression “give her” (give Er) which means to really put out the effort.

      1. I think it had more of a threatening tone, like to get tough with someone, or be critical of, or upset with.

  29. ‘Passed’ we’ve already covered previously, I think. Passed what? Kidneystones? Wind? Yes it annoys me too. It’s a lazy abbreviation for a euphemism – ‘passed away’. I find the euphemism tolerable but the trendy abbreviation – not.

    ‘Back in the day’ is roughly equivalent to ‘when I was young’. Marks me as an old fart. I don’t mind it much, it can be fairly specific – ‘back in the day, everyone had little transistor radios’.

    I’m used to ‘salty’ as a euphemism for strong language, all those trendy numbskulls using it for something else can just shove it where the sun don’t shine.

    “It is what it is.” Appropriate in certain (limited) circumstances. It’s a non-ideal situation (not good, not completely fubar’d) but we’ve got to deal with it. Take it as it comes. I agree it’s often over-used where ‘it’s buggered’ would be more appropriate.

    1. I’m used to ‘salty’ as a euphemism for strong language, all those trendy numbskulls using it for something else can just shove it where the sun don’t shine.



  30. As a long-suffering editor, I have encountered more than enough gaffes, solecisms, and errors to make me what we used to be able to call “crazy.” Thus, I’ll limit myself to one example. The original phrase, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating,” has now been truncated to “the proof is in the pudding,” which makes no sense. Do we speak of an Agatha Christie-ish situation, in which the pudding has been laced with strychnine? Whereas the intent of original phrase is that conclusions must be based on evidence — eminently sensible.

    1. Sad to say, but “proof is in the pudding” seems to have grown into what H.W. Fowler called a “sturdy indefensible” — a phrase or idiom that makes little logical sense but looks to be here more or less to stay.

  31. I don’t care for tag questions, and I hear them a lot these days.

    At the nursing home where my Sweetie is I hear, “It’s time for your medicine, okay?” “I’m going to change your bandages, okay?”

    “Okay?” is attached to all sorts of sentences. And now I’m finished writing, okay? I’m going to click on the ‘post comment’ button, okay? and post all this, okay?

    I get tired of hearing “okay”, and I’ve been a bit snarky at times. The phlebotomist said to me, “I’m going to draw your blood now, okay?” Every step of the way she’d asked if it’s okay. I said, “Yes, of course it’s okay!! That’s why I’m here!! You don’t have to keep asking me if it’s okay to do your job.”

  32. In re “it is what it is”, also “it will or it won’t”.

    Still hate “kiddos” for children.

    Also “hack” as good/useful information. I can’t get beyond “hack” being about illegally breaking into computer programs.

    How about writing snafus such as using a singular verb for plural subjects, or vice versa? How about not using past tense instead of past perfect (example: “wasn’t” instead of “weren’t”)? How about lack of editing or use of human or computer spellcheck?

    I used to enjoy collecting some of these language bastardizations, but they are so common now, I can’t keep up with them.

    1. How about not using past tense instead of past perfect (example: “wasn’t” instead of “weren’t”)?

      To be an insufferable pedant about it, Rowena, the past perfect of “wasn’t” would be “hadn’t been.”

      “Were” could be either the simple past plural (e.g., “We were here”) or the subjunctive mood (e.g., “Were he here, …”).

      Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

      1. Thanks for the correction. Subjunctive was what I was thinking of. Does anyone study these things any more? It reminds me of how very long ago (“back in the day”) when I
        supposedly learned all that. I’m afraid that many things I once knew, or thought I knew,
        have left my brain. Hopefully, clearing space for something(s) new and more interesting.

  33. As a corollary to “back in the day,” I hate “THESE days …” People start sentences that way to indicate that everything has now gone to crap. Regardless of the subject matter they’re usually wrong — things are better now in most every respect.

    1. “These days” signals that you are a crusty old windbag. I have found myself saying that, or thinking “in my day.” This signals to me that I should think more about my retirement fund and less about women wearing actual pants and not yoga pants (which I consider underpants, having lived in a very cold climate). Back in the day, we wore those under jeans when the wind chill was below zero. Nobody worries about the wind chill now! If tacky young women want to wear underpants outdoors, I say let ’em! They may be the first generation not to live to be my age, so they should enjoy their youth while they can.

      Of course, back in my day, we wore halter tops and cut-offs so short the pockets hung out the bottoms… There was nothing wrong with that!

      1. The kids still wear cutoffs with the pockets hanging out the bottom (I saw some on sale for $100+), but even worse, women of all ages wear ripped jeans that they pay big bucks for. (Get off my lawn in those things!)

    2. Yes, if you read the history books you see that what was going on back in the day is still happening these days. There are none so blind as they who will not see.

      1. You can have issues make up problems. For example, I have flat feet and a shirt Achilles tendon. Those aren’t always problems but they are issues that make my problem if pain when I walk.

      1. ‘Issues around X’ means they have ‘issues’ (what’s wrong with ‘problems’??) loosely associated with X, but NOT actually directly with X.

        That’s what the words mean, but presumably not what the speakers think they mean.


    1. I had a cruel & obnoxious manager that used to say that. I hated it and I have caught myself using that expression when I’ve been caught short on something more accurate.

  34. “moving forward” – almost always redundant because the tense is indicated regardless

    “facilitate” – means “help”, the magnitude of which is rarely delineated, making the word meaningless jargon

    “you do you” – portlandia

    1. For “moving forward” you could move back I suppose. Not so much in a time sense but in a process sense.

      For “facilitate” I actually do this work regularly and it is not helping. It’s a specific set of skills and activities.

    1. I sometimes drop the definite article in an introductory phrase, such as “Point being, …” or “Thing is, …”

      Point being, I do it when seeking to mimic the rhythm and sound of spoken English.

      As Dr. Johnson’s dictum has it (with its lovely blend of metonymy and synecdoche) “the pen must at length comply with the tongue” (though I suppose we should update “pen” to “keyboard”).

      Didn’t mean to piss you off, John. 🙂

  35. Thanks for adding “passed” for “died”. I was thinking of adding that myself. But I would also include “passed away”. It’s just another euphemism for the same thing. Do we somehow feel it’s disrespectful to actually say someone died or is there some kind of fear of the “D” word that inhibits us from saying it? Perhaps it’s the way the American funeral industry has evolved to make to turn death into anything but death. Let’s call it what it is.

  36. A classic case of the pot calling the kettle black, Mr. Cement Pond. The pond is concrete, not cement. Concrete is to cement as cake is to flour.

    1. That phrase seems to function in two very different contexts. First, as an example of the rhetorical device litotes in certain types of highbrow writing. Norman Mailer, for example, used to use “not for no reason” as something of a verbal tic in his writing.

      The key here, I think, is (pace Mailer) not to overuse them. (Someone once told me when you’re thinking of using litotes, consider how tedious and confusing it would be to read, “The not un-white rabbit jumped over the not un-high fence under the not un-bright sun.”)

      Second, the phrase functions as a bit of street jargon, especially among Italian-Americans in Brooklyn. (“Not for nothing, Carmine, but that suit looks like it fell off the back of a truck.”) 🙂

  37. I really, really like the phrase “It is what it is”. To me, it’s a condensed way of saying, “We live in a universe where many things happen beyond our control, and there’s nothing we can do control those things. Nor can we change things that have already happened even if we were the original cause. All we can do is take the world as it is now and do the things we can control.” But that’s a mouthful, so I usually just say “It is what it is.”

  38. “Take it to the next level.”

    What’s wrong with doing it better or improving it? Why the hypothetical preexisting hierarchy that we all supposedly agree on?

  39. My turn!

    “Yass queen” to express approval for something

    Can’t stand it, unless it’s used ironically.

    Also, “ironically” used incorrectly.

    I have less of a problem with using the word “literally” figuratively, but I still hate “I could care less.” Unless they actually could.


  40. I am s t i l l looooathing “thank you so much.”

    One thanks someone for something ? then
    .THAT. is quite enough. Quite. “Thank you.”

    The ‘so much’ – part is nothing more than
    i) more words to keep me talking and your eyeballs’ .attention upon me. ( narcissist ) and
    ii) in reality of the World of Thanking ?
    meaning – L E S S. Utterly withOUT
    A Thing More Added to one’s sentiment.

    You state that to me ? I shall first look away,
    then walk away. WithOUT one word of response.


    1. WithOUT one word of response:

      Not “You’re welcome so much.”
      Not “You’re welcome.”

      Squat. Just walkin’ a w a y.


  41. The euphemism “passed” is one I hate as well – partially because it reminds me of “passing gas” which sounds completely ludicrous. I never use it. Saying somebody passed seems like the opposite of “it is what it is.” No – they died – it is what it is. My mom used to like to say things like “five dollars is five dollars!” Oh really? How much is 3 dollars? How about 16 dollars? Quick!

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