Words and phrases I detest

It’s time for your host—now even more peevish than usual because of the pandemic—to vent about his most-despised words and phrases. And you can add yours in the comments, or perhaps you’d like to inform me that language changes and these neologisms are fine. In that case, take a number and get in line.

As usual, my examples come from HuffPost, which is the fastest way to find examples of odious jargon. Click on the screenshots to read the articles.

Back in the day“.  Yes, everybody says this, but it annoys me because of its lack of precision. Exactly what day are you talking about? Back in WHICH day? If you mean “during the 1950s”, or “in my youth,” then why not say that? You will never find that phrase coming out of my mouth.

Bigly” marks the user as a clever person—supposedly. Actually, it marks that person as a sheep who follows ridiculous speech trends. “Bigly”, of course, means “copiously” or, as in the case below, simply “well”. If we’re going to use “bigly”, how about “smally” to mean “not much” or “not very well”?

I do have a “Yo Semite” tee-shirt thanks to a kind reader, and I enjoy it a lot, but I don’t enjoy it “bigly”.

“Sorry not sorry”.  Now this one really burns my onions.  What it means is that you’re not sorry at all. I suppose that someone who was clever (and that doesn’t include those who use this phrase) could construe it as “I’m sorry, but I’m not apologizing for what I said/did.” But it’s used, like the phrase just above, to mark yourself as a clever speaker, which it doesn’t do at all.

“Slay”.  This means “amazes” or “wows”, but it’s both overly cute and macabre at the same time. A classic use would be “Beyoncé slays with new album,” but here’s an article from Huffpost that I found in about five seconds. In so doing, I discovered something new to me: “slay” can be used as a noun as well as a verb. And that’s even worse!:

135 Comments

  1. Jonathan Dore
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    “Slay” in this sense is actually quite old (I thought of it as an outdated expression rather than a new one): my mother was using it in the early 1960s.

  2. BobTerrace
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Yes, those are odious.

    Back in the day, that would slay me bigly.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    I thought slay had something to do with dragons. Bigly is a Trump word I thought. He uses it because he can’t think of a more difficult word like large. Back in the day is nonsense and usually means you are old. Maybe too old to remember when.

    • jezgrove
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      According to Wiktionary: “Usage notes:
      Bigly is now rare, possibly nonstandard, and other words such as greatly are typically used instead. Many uses are associated with Donald Trump, who in 2016 often used big league unusually as an adverb, rather than a noun or adjective, which was widely misinterpreted as (and thus popularized) the term bigly.” https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/bigly

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

        Well, I don’t remember big league but I am sure I heard him use the word bigly because it sounded so odd. I just thought he was making up words as he sometimes will do.

      • Posted September 19, 2020 at 3:54 am | Permalink

        I honestly thought that “bigly” was a Trumpism and people only used it to mock him. Oh well, it’s a poor day when you don’t learn something new.

        • Nicolaas Stempels
          Posted September 20, 2020 at 1:11 am | Permalink

          I thought exactly the same, and used ‘bigly’ mockingly.
          But I have to admit I might not be 100% without bias where Mr Trump is concerned.

    • Curt Nelson
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      I’ve thought that T didn’t actually say “bigly” but “big league,” which was misheard uncharitably — because I’ve heard “big league” used (like big time) and bigly sounds so dumb… so that is probably what he did say.

  4. Moishe
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    When my son was about six he used the term “bigly” and I asked what he meant. He said he heard me use it the day before. After a moment of thought it occurred to me that he had heard me say “big league”. I believe that’s what a lot of children heard when “big league” was used, hence the origin.

  5. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Great awful phrases.

    I use “back in the day” deliberately when I want to show I’m not being serious or for it’s big-talkin’ sound. Similar to “in my day” – the catch phrase of Dana Carvey’s immortal character.

  6. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    People use “killing it” also – even at ages too low for reason. It’s a terrible phrase. The first time was maybe edgy, but enough already – with that and “slay”.

  7. DrBrydon
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    “Problematic” is far too coy in today’s idiom. The speaker implies there’s a problem, but also that it’s really obvious. It’s passive-aggressive.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, “problematic” is concerning — though not as concerning as “concerning.”

      • Paul Matthews
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

        Yes! I despise “concerning” used to mean “worrisome” or “alarming”. Is this new? Back in the day (oops!), it seems to me it was only used to mean “related to”. That’s the way it should stay, dammit, as far as I’m concerned (oops—pardon the pun).

        • Nicolaas Stempels
          Posted September 20, 2020 at 1:16 am | Permalink

          It worries me that as far as ‘concerned’ in that sense is concerned, I mysteriously see the image of a pearl necklace being clutched.

          • Posted September 22, 2020 at 4:35 am | Permalink

            I think that you are all being a tad petty here – concerning is acceptable – just varying the language to avoid cliche. I would say worrisome is more US usage than British English.

    • Curt Nelson
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      I at least like to hear the word problem at all instead of challenge or issue.

  8. Veroxitatis
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Wot, only three, Sir?

  9. Barry Lyons
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    I do like “burns my onions”!

    • Marou
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      I’m afraid phrases like this – ‘boils my piss’, ‘grinds my gears’ – are my betes noires. In what way do they improve on ‘really annoy me’?

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

        In the same way, I suppose, that any apt metaphor does: by adding a vivid image.

        • amyt
          Posted September 18, 2020 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

          “New normal”
          This is not normal, new or otherwise.

      • Filippo
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

        “In what way do they improve on ‘really annoy me’?”

        What is your perspective on metaphor?

        • Marou
          Posted September 18, 2020 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

          Good question. I’d say that to work a metaphor should draw attention an otherwise mundane point rather than to itself.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

        I bet those phrases really chap your ass.

        • merilee
          Posted September 18, 2020 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

          🤣

        • Filippo
          Posted September 18, 2020 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

          “I bet those phrases really chap your ass.”

          Ah’ve heered tell of horse riders greasing their thighs with petroleum jelly so as to avoid so chapping. (I wonder if skiers like “Suzie Chapstick” also did.)

  10. Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Would the noun associated with the verb “to slay” be something like “slaughter”? If you can have a noun “slay”, could you have a one horse open slay?

  11. Nobody Special
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Related to ‘back in the day’ is ‘old school’, which grates when used by people barely out of school themselves and makes me want to commit violence when used to describe something from the last 30 years or-so. Old school mobile phone? Yeah, you can f’coff with that.
    Then there’s those people who say something that may be slightly surprising and end with ‘and I’m not even lying’, or begin with ‘If I’m being honest…’ All I make of those people is that they must lie so often that they have to specifically point out the occasions when they’re being honest.
    Finally, I am absolutely sick and tired of hearing ‘now more than ever’, ‘in these unprecedented times’, and ‘the new normal’.

    • merilee
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      All that “to be honest” stuff really bugs me, too. My old neighbor used to say “To be honestly truthful…”

      • Posted September 18, 2020 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

        When somebody says, “To be honest. . ” to me, I immediately stop them and ask, “Wait a minute. You mean you’re NOT honest to me the rest of the time?”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Old school mobile phone?

      I’d save that for one of those original gangster Motorola numbers that were the size and weight of a red brick.

      The kind Gordon Gecko lugged around on his beach in 1987’s Wall Street:

  12. BJ
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I also find “slay” annoying — as in “slay queen yaaassss” — but this isn’t a good example. It’s a play on words in this case, as Gellar as they’re referring to her leading role in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series. I used to love the movie growing up. I was a kid, it was on the movie channels all the time, and I had a huge crush on Kristy Swanson in her cheerleader outfit. It’s…not a good movie.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      I have a mug with Buffy on it that says “I ❤️ Buffy”. I have the whole series on DVD that I would by used. Somehow I missed it when it was on TV because I dismissed it as silly but it’s actually a very witty TV show full of metaphors.

      • BJ
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

        I’ve never actually seen the show. It did always seem silly, but you tend to have good taste, so I’ll check it out 🙂

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted September 18, 2020 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

          The school being built on a hellmouth is alone brilliant because high school is literally hell.

      • Posted September 19, 2020 at 4:06 am | Permalink

        I dismissed it at first as obviously being a silly show for teens. I though the “vampire slayer” part was meant metaphorically. Then I accidentally saw an episode – the one where Buffy’s mother’s new boyfriend turns out to be a robot.

        First thought was this is a well written funny show. Second thought: oh, it’s taken a bit of a dark twist. Also: Buffy seems to have legitimate superpowers (I had no idea of the show’s premise at the time). I’ve been hooked ever since.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted September 19, 2020 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

          The death of Buffy’s mom, Joyce moved me to this day. The way Buffy found her and the mundane calling the ambulance to take her body away.

    • tjeales
      Posted September 20, 2020 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      Yeah I agree that it was a hamfisted attempt to wedge the word slay into a headline about the Buffy actress and not a sign of things to come. I still love that show

  13. Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Back in the day, I used to say “back in the day” all the time.

  14. sgo
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    “Slay” does kind of work in the given example though, because she played Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You know, back in the day 😉

  15. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    “Bigly” is a Trumpism — although some linguists contend that what he is actually saying is “big league” but swallowing (or, technically, committing a “velar pinch”) of the final “g” sound.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      “(or, technically, committing a “velar pinch”) of the final “g” sound.”

      I heard the best people are saying that’s actually the greatest symptom of tremendous bone spurs.

      • jezgrove
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        There I was thinking Ken was using the legal vernacular for Trump’s pussy grabbing technique…

        • jezgrove
          Posted September 18, 2020 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

          Oops, an oxymoron…

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted September 18, 2020 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

          It’s when Trump is molesting a woman and pinches her by the velar.

          When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

          • merilee
            Posted September 18, 2020 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

            And she needs to wear a kevlar g-string.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted September 18, 2020 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

              The allegation that surfaced yesterday sure follows a consistent pattern.

              • merilee
                Posted September 18, 2020 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

                Kevlar mask, too.

              • Alexander
                Posted September 19, 2020 at 1:49 am | Permalink

                “…But I pushed it out with my teeth. I was pushing it. And I think I might have hurt his tongue.”

                Haha! This explains why the monster has a vocabulary of about 50 words.

    • tjeales
      Posted September 20, 2020 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

      Exactly. “Bigly” is only used ironically and to signal that you’re not a fan of Trump

  16. jezgrove
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    The first time I noticed “slay” was in 2018, when the authors of Slay in Your Lane were interviewed on BBC Radio 4 (Woman’s Hour, I expect). https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slay_In_Your_Lane

  17. savage
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    “Per say” is one of my most hated phrases. It shows the ignorance of whoever uses it.

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      ‘Per se’ = by or of itself. Often misused, yes, but sometimes useful.

    • Posted September 19, 2020 at 4:09 am | Permalink

      In a similar vein: mute for moot.

  18. John Donohue
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    truthiness
    post-truth
    nothing is certain except this sentence

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      “Truthiness” has probably been overused since, but it was Meriam-Webster’s “Word of the Year” back in ‘ought-six when Stephen Colbert (re-)coined it.

  19. Diana MacPherson
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    I think slay used in the Buffy context is witty because Buffy is the vampire slayer.

  20. Keith
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Any derivative of “Having said that…” to preface a writer’s next thought has become tiresome for me. It seems to have displaced more succinct transition words.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      Yes, there’s something to that.

      • Terry L Pedersen
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

        Sub. I hate that expression!

    • Type Logician
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      It seems to me that ‘Having said that’ is a somewhat jumped-up substitute for ‘On the other hand,…’ The speaker wants to present maybe a complementary perspective, or go on to special cases that may depart from whatever pattern or generalization or whatever s/he’s just been referring to, etc.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

        That said, I’d have to agree.

      • phoffman56
        Posted September 20, 2020 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        Exactly. It’s just sloppy for ‘DESPITE having said that ….’, or should be used that way.

        Without the ‘despite’ it’s often merely filler which the user thinks shows some extra profundity.

    • eric
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      I’m guilty of that one.
      I tend to try and use multiple and different transition words and phrases; I think it’s boring to both writer and reader to use the same ones over and over again. ‘Having said that’ is certainly in the cycle with ‘on the other hand’, ‘however,’ ‘but’, etc.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted September 20, 2020 at 1:20 am | Permalink

      That being said, I plead guilty, your Honour.

  21. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    “Slay” should be reserved for its original use — when a stand-up has a great set at a comedy club.

    Or for its literal meaning of “kill,” as when Caine “slew” Abel in Genesis 4 because the latter topped his vegetable offering by sacrificing a fatted lamb, or when David slew that Philistine Goliath by smoting him with sling and stone in Samuel 17.

  22. TJR
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Did anybody here ever go to see Slayer live?

    And if so were they really good, did they……

  23. drosophilist
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    This is firmly in “get off my lawn” territory, but it annoys me when people say “waiting on” when they mean “waiting for.” “Waiting on” means serving someone, as in, a servant waiting on his master, or a waiter waiting on patrons in a restaurant. Nowadays people say “I’m waiting on that letter” or “I’m waiting on a reply to my application” or things like that, and it annoys me! You’re waiting FOR the letter, you’re not serving it! /end rant

    • BobTerrace
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      Not to be confused with weighting on…

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      “Waiting on” is a regionalism, I think.

      In New York City, for example, the denizens in a queue will tell you they’re “waiting on line.”

      • Laurance
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

        Around here I’d always heard, “standing in line”. It wasn’t till I met someone who’d lived in New York City that I heard “on line” instead of “in line”.

        Out here in the rural area we’d be standing/waiting in line waiting on him to get done so that we can have our turn…

    • Laurance
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      Here on the far, far edge of Pennsylvania Dutch country I hear “waiting on” which doesn’t sound too odd, because German is “warten auf”, not “warten für”. I’m used to it, but I can sympathize with those who don’t like this.

      As long as I’m here, I’ll add a couple of my own gripes.

      I grit my teeth when I see “loose” instead of “lose”. It happens a lot. No! That thing is coming LOOSE, and you’re liable to LOSE it.

      And no no NO!!! “Wax” does NOT mean “speak” or “talk”!!! “Wax” as a verb means “grow” or “become”. It calls for an adjective, not an adverb. No, he did NOT wax loudly for a long time. He did NOT wax all evening, did NOT go on waxing and waxing long after we were tired of hearing.

      “Beg the question” instead of “raise the question” may not go away. We may be stuck with this one. Nowadays I’m so used to hearing it used for “raise the question” that I cringe when I hear it used correctly. Okay, I may just have to get used to this.

      But NO! Please! “The question begs…” NO NO NO!!! That’s too much!

      • Posted September 19, 2020 at 4:13 am | Permalink

        “wax loud” does work much like the origin of the problem “wax lyrical”.

  24. Posted September 18, 2020 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    I’m sure this has been mentioned here previously, but I hate it when people say “Can I get…” when they mean “May I have…”. It’s an expression I hear several times a day, unfortunately, but no matter how often I respond to it, sarcastically or explicitly, the most common offender I know does not change.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      Agreed, though, like Marvin Gaye, may I have an exception for “Can I get a witness?” 🙂

      • Posted September 18, 2020 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

        Poetic license is almost always an acceptable reason for exceptions. And Marvin Gaye has a pass on practically anything, form my point of view.

    • Posted September 19, 2020 at 4:14 am | Permalink

      “Can I get a coffee?”

      “Yes, this is a coffee shop. All you have to do is ask”.

      • Posted September 21, 2020 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

        I’m picky about it because the person in the office who is asking “Can I get…” really OUGHT to get what he’s asking for himself, but he always waits until the last moment to ask for someone else to get it…and so I think he should, by rights, be scrupulously polite and correct. It’s a good thing he’s a pretty nice guy in every other respect.

        I AM being a bit pedantic about it, I know.

  25. John Dentinger
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Since nobody has yet mentioned “Sorry,Not Sorry,” I’ll chime in here with the observation that it seems awfully close to a phrase that I use occasionally: “Thanks, but no thanks.” That works quite well for me. Uh, oh–guess I better take a number . . . .

    • jezgrove
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      She didn’t create the phrase, but since the song got to #10 in the US charts Demi Lovato probably played a role in popularising “Sorry not sorry”: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorry_Not_Sorry_(Demi_Lovato_song) (Another song with the same title by a different artist the year before won’t have helped.)

      • jezgrove
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

        D’oh – #6 in the US, #10 here in the UK.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      “Sorry, not sorry” strikes me as close kin to the neologism “non-apology.”

      • jezgrove
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

        Indeed: https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Sorry%20Not%20Sorry

      • Jonathan Wallace
        Posted September 19, 2020 at 8:18 am | Permalink

        Perhaps with the difference that ‘sorry not sorry’ deliberately draws attention to the fact that the speaker is not really sorry at all whereas a non-apology is usually a mealy-mouthed way of appearing contrite but actually taking no responsibility e.g “we are sorry if some people may have taken offence from our article…’

  26. Ted Walter
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    I’m still trying to get past “it is what it is”. What the hell does that even mean?

    • Posted September 18, 2020 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      It depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is.

      • phoffman56
        Posted September 20, 2020 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

        Which one is it you don’t understand, the ‘i’ or the ‘s’?

        IIRC, the original was: “…. the ‘n’ or the ‘o’?”

    • Posted September 18, 2020 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      It’s a way to say that a situation cannot be changed anymore and must be accepted as it is.

      • merilee
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

        I don’t mind when my son uses it to mean that (but hate when Trump uses it!j

        • phoffman56
          Posted September 20, 2020 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

          With Drumpf it usually means he’s got no idea what to say because, on this rare occasion, he vaguely realizes his total ignorance.

          • merilee
            Posted September 20, 2020 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

            ✔️❗️

  27. Silvia Planchette
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Optics.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      Should be reserved for people who work with lenses.

      • jezgrove
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

        Scitpo?!

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted September 20, 2020 at 1:33 am | Permalink

        Not just lenses, Ken, there are prisms, pigments, mirrors, stenopeic slits and holes, Airy-discs and the like.
        Like in ‘stunning optics in cephalopods: they use chromatic aberration to achieve colour vision!’

      • Posted September 22, 2020 at 4:27 am | Permalink

        Surely in a bar!?

  28. Filippo
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    I’ve previously mentioned “kind of” and “sort of,” but this time with examples I’ve jotted down from listening to bloviators of various stripes online. They surely don’t write like they speak (or perhaps an editor catches it).

    It’s especially irksome when either phrase is used to modify the superlative (in a grammatical sense, re: “positive, comparative, superlative”), or used in conjunction with another, superlative, contradictory, modifier. (

    The previous sentence “kind of” comes across as “white noise.” The below examples clarify.)

    “I was so kind of nonchalant.”

    “really kind of disparate groups”

    “a very kind of intense academic private school”

    “a really sort of microcosm”

    “stepped up to kind of provide assistance”

    “a very interesting kind of example”

    “this kind of whole group”

    “the goal is to kind of like . . .”

    “additional sort of ways”

    “sort of like the whole world”

    “kind of amazingly so . . .”

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted September 20, 2020 at 1:34 am | Permalink

      I find that kinda harsh, Filippo.

      • Filippo
        Posted September 20, 2020 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        “I find that kinda harsh, Filippo.”

        I so totally kinda congenially acknowledge your opinion.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted September 20, 2020 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      I hate if I am talking to a group and catch myself saying “sort of”. I think it’s a verbal tick to make what I’m saying passive. I hate it so much, I usually stop and correct myself.

  29. Ruthann Richards
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely hate “bigly,” as well as “in today’s world.” Well, what other world would we be in???

  30. Posted September 18, 2020 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    I won’t listen to any of these minor irritations until you Americans stop making reference to ‘tuna-fish’ sandwiches.

    • Filippo
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      “I won’t listen to any of these minor irritations until you Americans stop making reference to ‘tuna-fish’ sandwiches.”

      For some reason I’m reminded that I have yet to try that classic British delectable, Spotted Dick.

      • Posted September 18, 2020 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

        I would not recommend it. I would be very reluctant, in fact, to recommend any traditional British cuisine.

        • Nobody Special
          Posted September 19, 2020 at 8:59 am | Permalink

          Spotted Dick is delicious, and ideally should be served with plenty of real (home-made, not from a tin or packet) custard.

      • Nobody Special
        Posted September 19, 2020 at 9:01 am | Permalink

        Never mind ‘tuna-fish’, it’s ‘horse-back riding’ that cracks me up. How else is one supposed to ride a horse?

    • phoffman56
      Posted September 20, 2020 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      But how then will one speak profoundly and unambiguously of a tuna-tree sandwich?

      “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”

      IMHO, this from Ludwig non-Beethoven is very little more profound!

  31. gscott
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    A couple of modern usages that are really grinding my gears these days:
    – leaving out ‘to be’ as in “My car needs washed”
    – omitting ‘to make a’ as in “Long story short, …”

    And in a different vein: otherwise educated people who say ‘eck cetera’. And for that matter, people who say ‘eye eee’ (i.e.) or ‘eee gee’ (e.g.) in spoken conversation. IMHO those are for written English; in spoken English, ‘that is’ and ‘for example’ will do just fine.

    • merilee
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

      My car needs washed🙀😖

    • Nobody Special
      Posted September 19, 2020 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      I’ve seen ‘and etc’ quite a lot, as well as ‘ect’.

    • Dom
      Posted September 22, 2020 at 4:29 am | Permalink

      Ellipsis…

  32. Marilee Lovit
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    I continue to dislike “try and” instead of “try to.” “Try and” is so common now, I notice and appreciate when people use the more precise try to. “Try and” implies succeeding as well as trying, which is usually not the intended meaning.

    • Filippo
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

      ‘“Try and” is so common now, I notice and appreciate when people use the more precise try to.’

      I’m reminded of the locution during The Lord’s Supper, “Take and eat.”

  33. Steve Pollard
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    Not a word or phrase, but a mode of speaking. There seem to be an increasing number of people whose voices crack, particularly towards the end of sentences. Perhaps we all do this now and again, but some speakers on radio or TV do it so often that one begins to think it must be deliberate. I’m sorry to say that it’s more common among female speakers than male. It’s damned irritating.

    • merilee
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

      Voice burn. Especially common and annoying in young women.

      • Filippo
        Posted September 18, 2020 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps at least a few are dealing with the effects of (undiagnosed?) sleep apnea. Or are just talking too much. To paraphrase Khalil Gibran’s “Prophet”: “Let there be spaces (occasional breaths) between your sentences.”

      • phoffman56
        Posted September 20, 2020 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

        Yes, this rise in sound frequency at the end of an assertive sentence makes it seem like it’s interrogative, a question–and makes the speaker seem very unsure of herself or himself.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted September 18, 2020 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

      Vocal fry. I’ve heard men do it too. Very millennial.

      • Posted September 18, 2020 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

        What’s not to like about vocal fry plus “valleyspeak” (uptalk) 😁

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted September 18, 2020 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

          Oh I don’t know that you can do both at the same time.

        • merilee
          Posted September 18, 2020 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

          Maybe fry + uptalk will kind of level things out.

          • Nobody Special
            Posted September 19, 2020 at 9:07 am | Permalink

            Frupspeak?

            • merilee
              Posted September 19, 2020 at 9:28 am | Permalink

              Aaaaargh🙀

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted September 20, 2020 at 1:37 am | Permalink

        To me it doesn’t sound so much millennial, but rather ‘bedroom’ (in both senses).

  34. Posted September 18, 2020 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    I always smile when I see your “Words/word usage I hate” columns.

    I’m grateful that you take the bullet for the rest of us by hate-reading the stupid and frankly annoying HuffPo – excising their most egregious stupidities so we your readers don’t have to – and serving it up for us. And it is indeed a “target rich” area.

    Pretty much all of your objections I object to also so it is always a satisfying read.

    Thanks professor,
    D.A. NYC

  35. boudiccadylis
    Posted September 19, 2020 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    I’d be happy if youse could do the difference betwixt then and/or than.

  36. Posted September 22, 2020 at 4:39 am | Permalink

    My least liked word is ‘Brit’ or ‘ Brits’ for Britons or British. Jerry has used that!

    As it is, I consider myself English second, Man of Kent first, Briton third.

    • Filippo
      Posted September 22, 2020 at 6:09 am | Permalink

      “My least liked word is ‘Brit’ or ‘ Brits’ for Britons or British. Jerry has used that!”

      What do you think of “Yanks”?


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