Saturday, August 1, 2009

Cliches Done to Death

Do cliches and worn-out old phrases make you want to scream? When someone says "Think outside the box," do you feel like stuffing them inside that box? Are you going to scream if you hear some kid say "like, you know" one more time?

This is my rapidly growing list of some of overused words and phrases that really ought to be retired, banned, burned or (insert your choice here).


"And he was like, 'Seriously?,' and I'm like, 'Yeah,' and he's like, 'No way,' and I'm like..."

For some reason, "like" is more annoying than filler words such as "uh" and "um." Those filler words convey nervousness or low self-confidence. "Like" is, like, vacuous. You know?

You Know

This one is ALMOST as bad as "like." To my dismay, "you know" is a dear friend of "like." They always seem to hang out together.

"It's, like, you know..."


The problem with this word isn't just that it's overused. The biggest problem I have with "whatever" is that it expresses contempt. It's dismissive, the verbal equivalent of rolling your eyes. Even if contempt is deserved, saying "whatever" rarely makes the speaker look good.

My Two Cents

This one is a crutch for almost everyone. I've even used it from time to time. This phrase is innocuous enough and doesn't seem to make people throw fits, but it is getting a little worn and tired.


Ever watch Princess Bride? Remember when Inigo tells Vizzini, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means?" "Literally" is one of those type of words.

"Literally" isn't a word you use for emphasis. It's a word you use when you say something that shouldn't just be interpreted figuratively. For example, if you jumped so high that you bumped your head, you could say, "I literally hit the ceiling."

But if you say that you literally worked your butt off, it doesn't mean you worked really hard. It means you don't have a butt anymore.

Then again, people overuse the word "literally" even if they're technically using it correctly. If you drove your car into a ditch, you can just say so and leave it at that. People probably don't need to hear the word "literally" to understand what you're saying.

Think Outside the Box

OK, time to put this business cliche back in the box now.

This buzzword was used to death by business execs who thought it sounded good. It promotes creative thinking, yet it has been repeated so much that it's become musty, flat, and uninspiring. It also sounds pretentious. Its is also not good for indoor cats.

Think of the Children

A stinky political cliche that tries to make you feel guilty if you're opposed to some law that drains your pocketbook or violates your rights in some way. If you're not willing to give up some freedoms (or at least the conveniences you grew up with), you must be in favor of child abuse. How dare you put your own selfish whims ahead of the children!

But Wait!

But wait, there's more! Call now and you'll get this fabulous egg-laying, multi-purpose rubber chicken ABSOLUTELY FREE! Wow!


A lot of people say they HATE this one. They're all but screaming and tearing their hair out over it.

According to, "awesome" is a word that means "inspiring awe." But what does "awe" mean? "An overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like."

There aren't a lot of truly awesome things in the world.

At the End of the Day

Properly translated, "at the end of the day" means, "I'm about to say something clever and profound!"

Every time a newscaster utters this hackneyed phrase, somebody pukes.

I Could Care Less

If you say this, you're saying that you DO care. Because if you DIDN'T care, it would be impossible to care less than you actually do.

That's why the phrase is correctly said, "I couldn't care less."

My Bad

My favorite definition of "my bad" comes from Urban Dictionary:

"I did something bad, and I recognize that I did something bad, but there is nothing that can be done for it now, and there is technically no reason to apologize for that error, so let's just assume that I won't do it again, get over it, and move on with our lives."

Not only is "my bad" grammatically incorrect, it's a flippant apology.

My Overused Words and Phrases

Just to be fair, here are some words and phrases I catch myself using a lot...

* Otherwise
* For example
* For some reason
* I dunno
* I guess
* I think
* In general
* People
* Probably
* Something like that
* Tend
* Well

Some words are used heavily because it's HARD find a substitute for perfectly good words that convey the right meaning or tone. Other words are difficult to give up because they're so comfortably ingrained in our habits.

Is it just me or do others as well hate the phrases "that being said,..." and "having said that..."?.

How about "issue"? I've heard people say, "My car has an issue," "My life is full of issues," "This computer is full of issues," and more, ad nauseum. Pleeeze! I always feel myself blushing with embarrassment when I'm with someone who talks like this, because it screams, "I want to sound intelligent and serious and hip," but to me it sounds pretentious, ignorant group-talk. I really have an issue with this one.

This is on my all-time list of banned phrases: 'Moving forward' (during some dumb meeting). Usually you say something that may or may not be on topic and the 'team leader' (hhah!) will cut you of and say "Mmoooving forward... " as if to tell you and your co-workers, "I really don't care what you said". It's just plain rude and plants the seeds of (well deserved) resentment.

How about this one? "To be perfectly honest with you".. As if they normally lie to you? Or how about "on the same page." That one just simply feels like fingernails on the chalkboard to me. Thanks for the look at the funny way language is used.

Or this one? "I need to wrap my mind around it." It''s getting old (just like the cliche "it's getting old)...LOL! I guess some cliches are just in our bloodstream.

Some folks use the phrase "Not to interrupt" to interrupt people while they are talking... which drives me crazy. I think it is rude and shows bad manners. On top of that they also say "Not to change the subject.." and then change the subject....

A few more that I hate -

that's what I'm saying...they aren't saying it.

I see what you're saying...complete gibberish, makes no sense at all.

I'm all about...are you that simple??

110%...impossible, everything tops out at 100%!!!

Would you, dear reader, care to contribute?

That being said, I'm outta here!

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