Annoying Things You Say

A top 10 of irritating expressions has been compiled by researchers at Oxford University.
By Charlotte Bailey  

Heading the list was the expression ‘at the end of the day’, which was followed in second place by the phrase ‘fairly unique’.

The tautological statement “I personally” made third place – an expression that BBC Radio 4 presenter John Humphreys has described as “the linguistic equivalent of having chips with rice.”

Also making the top 10 is the grammatically incorrect “shouldn’t of”, instead of “shouldn’t have”.

The phrases appear in a book called Damp Squid, named after the mistake of confusing a squid with a squib, a type of firework.

The researchers who compiled the list monitor the use of phrases in a database called the Oxford University Corpus, which comprises books, papers, magazines, broadcast, the internet and other sources.

The database alerts them to new words and phrases and can tell them which expressions are disappearing. It also shows how words are being misused.

As well as the above expressions, the book’s author Jeremy Butterfield says that many annoyingly over-used expressions actually began as office lingo, such as 24/7 and “synergy”.

Other phrases to irritate people are “literally” and “ironically”, when they are used out of context.

Mr Butterfield said: “We grow tired of anything that is repeated too often – an anecdote, a joke, a mannerism – and the same seems to happen with some language.”

The top ten most irritating phrases:

1 – At the end of the day

2 – Fairly unique

3 – I personally

4 – At this moment in time

5 – With all due respect

6 – Absolutely

7 – It’s a nightmare

8 – Shouldn’t of

9 – 24/7

10 – It’s not rocket science

The original article can be found here. 

And then there are my favorite things to hate:

1 – Basically

2 – Supposebly

3 – I could care less

4 – I don’t know

5 – Irregardless

6 – Frankly

7 – Any improper conjugation of state of being verbs

8 – Excuses or blame shifting of any kind

9 – Shades of truth

10 – Fer/Fur when you really mean for (I may be the worst offender)

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    • Poppy
    • November 8th, 2008

    And be sure to add “I was just saying” and vocalized pauses such as “yah know!” and “ummmm” to the list.

    • jenn
    • November 8th, 2008

    Kim, at the end of the day, I personally just don’t know what to make of this fairly unique list of absolutely most irritating phrases! ha! =) I must confess that I use several of these phrases on more of a regular basis than I want to admit. Yikes. =) I’ve actually caught myself using “at the end of the day” way too much in the recent past. =) What can a girl do?! =) More than anything, I am certain it is putting me in an age category where I do not fit! =) I will, however, say that it never ceases to amaze me how often the words “should of” are used in writing! Yowza. =)

    Love you friend! Hope all is well. What do you say I give myself a challenge? I dare myself to pick up the phone and dial your number! After we chat, I have a list of more than 5 others for whom I need to do the same! =) I promise you it is not for NOT missing your face off!!!!

    • Kit and Luke
    • November 8th, 2008

    this is great! as an English major back in college I liked studying stuff like this (well, when someone else does the work and I just get to read about it). Luke has his own phrase that annoys him, a certain co-worker says “just so you know” before everything. argh! The phrases I tend to overuse include stuff like, “please settle down,” and “don’t put that in your mouth!” I’m not sure that’s the same idea though 🙂

    • Kat
    • November 8th, 2008

    Bernie and I taught an ESL class in Dallas where, in the workbook, there were lots of sidenotes with helpful tips like “when English speakers say ‘fer’ they often mean ‘for'” and “when they say ‘tuh’ they usually mean ‘to’.” As if our language isn’t hard enough to learn with how everyday speakers (self included) speak it so lazily.

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