Oxford University recently made a list of the top ten most irritating phrases:
1 – At the end of the day
2 – Fairly unique
3 – I personally — an expression that BBC Radio 4 presenter John Humphreys described as “the linguistic equivalent of having chips with rice.”
4 – At this moment in time
5 – With all due respect
6 – Absolutely
7 – It’s a nightmare
8 – Shouldn’t of — Shouldn’t HAVE, folks!
9 – 24/7
10 – It’s not rocket science
I would like to add ‘ironically’ and ‘literally’ to the list because the people who use them don’t seem to understand their meaning. And that includes the air quotes. I’m not “kidding.”
But my ultimate pet peeve word is ‘arguably.’ First, coming from a large argumentative family, EVERYTHING is arguable. But a seemingly innocuous sentence like this: “Abraham Lincoln was arguably the best President” makes me sputter in fourteen different directions, none of which has to do with history. Why can’t one say instead, “I think President Lincoln was the best President” or “President Lincoln was the best Prez because he wore that awesome hat” or whatever.
But at the end of the day, I personally am fairly unique in thinking this. With all due respect to Lincoln scholars, it’s absolutely a nightmare to be subjected to “history” 24/7. After all, it’s literally not rocket science.
Oh, I probably shouldn’t of said that.
What’s your numero uno most irritating phrase?