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The word 'whatever' literally irritating


This ultimate statement of apathy -- popularized by Kurt Cobain in the lyrics of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" -- has been identified by Americans as the most irritating word in the English language.

According to the Marist College poll, which was released last week, the slacker term was found "most annoying in conversation" by 47 percent of Americans surveyed.

"Whatever" -- which has lately been shortened to the even-more-grating "whatevs" -- edged out such other irksome words/phrases as "You know," "like," and "at the end of the day."

Personally, I believe a slang word or saying loses its luster when it goes mainstream. "Whatever" was kind of cool when it was uttered by the Valley Girls in 1994's "Clueless." But once it becomes a sassy utterance among the ladies in your grandma's bridge club, or a punchline in an episode of a Lifetime sitcom, it has "jumped the shark" (a phrase that, incidentally, has also jumped the shark).

Personally, I am not really bothered by the word "whatever." There are so many other words and phrases that I find much more off-putting.

Here, based on my own pet peeves as well as those of a few other colleagues, are some words and catch-phrases that truly bug us:

• "To be perfectly honest," "I'm not going to lie to you," or "quite frankly" (Translation: "I now fully intend to lie to you.")

• "It goes without saying ... " ("and yet I will still waste your time by saying it.")

• "Do you have a minute?" (Translation: "Do you have two hours so I can babble on about my crazy weekend at the All-Klingon Renaissance Festival?)

• "I don't want to be mean but ..." ("I now plan to crush your soul into a fine, dusty powder.")

• "We need to talk." ("I will now take you behind the barn and only bring back the bridle.")

• "OMG," "LOL." ("I have nothing to say to that so I'll now type the texted equivalent of dead air.")

• "It is what it is."

("I have no interest in helping you with that particular problem. Please make your way to the door or I will alert security.")

• "Cold enough for ya?" (The meteorological equivalent to asking someone if that is their real hair.)

• "Literally," (an especially irritating word when it's misused, as in "I literally died." Or: "My head literally blew up." Or: "It's literally raining cats and dogs.")

• "TMI." (Funny the first three times you heard it. The 36,051 times after that? Not so much.)

• "FYI." (Especially annoying when someone starts an e-mail with this acronym. It's like: "Really? You're sending an e-mail to me and it's intended for MY information? How odd!")

• "It's not you, it's me." ("It's you.")

• "You go girl," "Talk to the hand," "Oh no you din't" (or any other catchphrases that were hilarious when first uttered by Brooke Shields in a 1997 episode of "Suddenly Susan.")

• "We came here to win." ("Usually, we try to lose.")

• "Thinking out of the box," "Pushing the envelope," "Getting out of your comfort zone" ("I am about to ask you to do something that is uncomfortable, painful and possibly illegal.")

• "Don't get mad but ..." ("I'm going to now tell you that I accidentally stole your girlfriend and drove over your new puppy.")

• "Paradigm shift," "leveraging a synergy," "impactful," "jumping-off point" ("I don't know what any of these words mean, but I always hear them at leadership seminars.")

• "We need to work smarter, not harder." (Translation: "Your job duties will multiply, but we will not be able to pay overtime. Also, when I say 'we,' I mean 'you.' Literally. LOL!")