Saturday, November 08, 2008

Ten Top Most Annoying Phrases

Oxford compiles list of top ten irritating phrases
A top 10 of irritating expressions has been compiled by researchers at Oxford University.

By Charlotte Bailey
Last Updated: 3:18PM GMT 08 Nov 2008

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

Apparently England doesn't have the problem of the use of


A very well-used phrase that is extra-specially annoying and incorrectly used here in good ol' New York.



Mandy said...

well anyways it isn't rocket science to compile an end of the day list like this least ways not at the moment.

Jan said...

Yes, these irritate me, too. There are a couple of others, that I won't mention. I don't want any one using them!

Maggie Moo said...

Ugh. I triple hate "anyways" and I'm surprised it didn't make the list.

Tanuj Solanki said...

missed out


"O my God"

and the dirtier ones

~Just Me Miranda~ said...

I really hate the expression 'my bad' it drives me nuts.

Putz said...

teach: At the end of the day i absolutely know that ia m fairly unique,,, i personally thought it was a nioghtmare when i shouldn't have gone into rocket science...................with all due the putz

magiceye said...

At the end of the day, I personally think, at this moment in time, though its not rocket science and with all due respect that this post is fairly unique. Anyways, using these phrases 24/7 shouldn't of be thought 'it's a nightmare'!

♥peachkins♥ said...


SandyCarlson said...

I am so guilty!

Marilyn said...

The ones I find most annoying
1. Litmus Test
2. Gold Standard
3. No offense but...
4. Nuke-You-Lar (not a phrase but makes me crazy)

Maybe I'm paying too much attention to politics?

Travis Cody said...

Those would make my list as well. I wonder if this book has a chapter on the use of text abbreviations in formal writing.

eastcoastlife said...

These are on my list, they irritate me no end. And my kids are using my bad, anyways, whatever ... very often to irritate me! grrrr....

Julie said...

ACK! These are awful! I refuse to type the ones that bother me the most! ACK ACK ACK!

Lew said...

I'll nominate "I'll tell you what" for this list of irritating phrases. It is used on sports shows here in DC.

Jeni said...

For me, there is a word -one word -that really irks me, hearing it over and over and OVER again in conversation -LIKE! "And like, I was doing like riding my bike, like I was pedaling like crazy and like, I hit a rock and hit my head, like a lunatic that I am." Or some such other sentence in which the word gets tossed in with much frequency. That and my son's frequent saying "Do you know what I mean?" or "Does that make any sense?" Often when he is talking and asks those inane questions, I just stop and say "NO!" which flusters him for a second or two but then he laughs and goes on to the next topic, almost always inserting one of the two much loved questions of his all over again!

Michele said...

Heh... I had to snicker because I have used some of these often... oopsy... =D

Durward Discussion said...

They left off my political pet peeve:

"The Fact of the matter is:"


Hootin' Anni said...

Oh yes.....shouldn't of would drive me bonkers!! That is sooooo incorrect. Probably as much as my 'soooo'. LOL

And my sister, whom I speak with over the phone a lot, is always saying 'absolutely'. What a drag.

Interesting post.

Babs (Beetle) said...

Oh there is definitely one missing!! I get so annoyed when I hear somebody say "Those ones" Many TV presenters use it in the UK! I often shout at the TV "If it's one, it's singular. You can't have several of one!"

Queen-Size funny bone said...

I feel special, I use a lot of the irritating words so I must be irritating.

Akelamalu said...

I once got a note from my son's teacher using "shouldn't of", instead of "shouldn't have" - doesn't bode well does it? :(

Louise said...

Ohhhh! I love this list. I am not a fan of slang or cliches. And I believe I can safely say I do not use any of these phrases. (24/7 is the one that gets on my nerves the most.) But I HAVE been known to say, "Apparently it takes a rocket scientist to figure this out..." because sometimes I don't figure something out that was very simple just by overthinking it.

Unknown said...

How about "you know?" or "you understand what I'm saying?"

Very irksome.

Desert Songbird said...