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12/16: Whatever, Still Most Annoying Word, You Know. Like, Seriously? Just Sayin’


12/16: Whatever, Still Most Annoying Word, You Know. Like, Seriously? Just Sayin’

It’s that time of the year, again!  It’s time for The Marist Poll to reveal the word or phrase considered to be the most annoying in casual conversation.  And, for the third consecutive year, “whatever” receives the dubious honor.  Nearly four in ten adults nationally — 38% — say “whatever” grates on their nerves the most.  “Like” one in five — 20% — say that verbal filler is the most irritating while 19% despise “you know.”  “Just sayin’” gets on the nerves of 11% of the population compared with 7% who report “seriously” should be banned from casual conversation.  Five percent are unsure.

whatever in letterpress type


Click Here for Complete December 16, 2011 USA Marist Poll Release and Tables

Last year, 39% told the Marist Poll “whatever” is the most bothersome word in casual conversation while 28% thought “like” was the epitome of irritating.  At that time, the list also included “you know what I mean” — 15% — “to tell you the truth” — 10% — and “actually” — 5%.  Three percent were unsure.

Table: Most Annoying Conversational Word or Phrase

Marist Poll Methodology

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  1. Dan

    December 19, 2013 at 9:15 PM

    Another vote to ban “literally” from spoken English.

  2. Erik

    May 10, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    When the rubber hits the road, and all is said and done, believe you me, all this talk will absolutely, literally be like…whatever. Just sayin’.

  3. Wes

    December 28, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    Unique! Something either is or it isn’t. There’s no such thing as ‘very’ unique or ‘most’ unique. There can be truely, absolutely, or even almost unique. But nothing is very unique. Sports broadcasters are the worst at this.

  4. jns

    December 4, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    Well, Gary McGowan, soon’ll be old…clocks ticking.

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  7. Minneapolis Campaign

    March 29, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    I am starting a campaign to eliminate the word “actually” from conversation. Talking heads, TV anchors, politicians, journalists, and regular people on the street are using the word way too much. It’s superfluous in most cases. I find it the most annoying word of 2012. It seems its use keeps increasing! If someone has the talent, will you please create a website (and let me know) to kick off the campaign to eliminate the word “actually” from dialogue? I gave up the use of the word for lent, as did some friends. It is amazing how many times and in varied places we hear it!

  8. Jeff Hook

    March 5, 2012 at 9:48 AM

    I wonder if you folks have noticed the tendency to begin sentences with the incongruous adverb “so.” This seems most often to be seen in answers to questions or in explanations. This appears to be a California trend. I assume it’s an affectation by people who wish to be seen as “brilliant Silicon Valley” types who function at such a great intellectual elevation that they can’t be bothered by the conventions of normal syntax. Growing legions of imbeciles are adopting this “verbal tick.” This use of “so” may soon “sweep the nation”…

  9. Maggie

    February 15, 2012 at 7:35 PM

    People have to stop saying “literally”. Most use it incorrectly and they sound dopey.

    “the fact of the matter is”
    Empty modifiers such as extremely, amazing, awesome, incredible, great, fantastic…you get the idea. People seem to be too lazy to come up with a rich, precise adjective.

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  11. Piotr Apows

    January 3, 2012 at 4:11 AM

    The most irritates me the word YES he he
    Yours Apows

  12. Gary McGowan

    January 1, 2012 at 4:11 AM

    64% of those polled were over 47 years old…. Old people shouldn’t be counted, they are almost dead. LMAO

  13. Sally

    December 30, 2011 at 12:00 PM

    The most annoying word for 2011 should be “So,”…

    Everyone and their mother are starting sentences with the word “So,”.
    It drives me CRAZY! Augh! Please people, stop using the word “So” to begin a sentence, especially after being asked a simple question. I think it makes people feel like they are sounding authoritative or somehow smarter, almost as if they are beginning a lecture and the person they are talking with are not very intelligent. Well, we’re on to you.
    Ha ha! Can you tell that’s my pet peeve???
    ; p

  14. Michael

    December 28, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    “that’s what’s up” makes me violent.

  15. don

    December 25, 2011 at 9:41 PM

    Kardashian is the most annoying word I ever heard.

  16. Blessed Geek

    December 25, 2011 at 12:08 AM

    “Like” is the most annoying word. “Like”, similar to the MF word, originated from pidgin English speakers across the Pacific ocean into LA and Toronto.

    MF, though linguists have yet to acknowledge, originated as a medieval cantonese and other southern chinese swear phrase under a few variations. Through trade and migration, these phrases started moving southwards into Southeast-Asia. In the 70s, triad members and shopkeepers then started to interact with black gang members using these various crude southern chinese expressions. From that point, the black gangs disseminated the now world famous MF phrases.

    Similarly, “like”, “so” and the infamous southern California accent that aging soccer moms try to emulate to sound like teenagers, originated from across the Pacific.

    Since the 60’s you could hear phrases like “why you so like that?”, “like what”, “she is so a bit**” and various MF variations could be heard from pidgin speakers in India, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. “So” and “like” were used because the pidgin English speakers were trying to transliterate their native tongue’s emphasis words into English.

    The infamous southern California teenage accent betrays significant borrowing from Thai accentuation. Many US kids growing up in the 80s got very attracted to the sing-songy way their Thai classmate girls spoke and evolved a new accent. Not that the accent is annoying, but that middle-aged soccer moms and over-the-hill actresses try to emulate it is extremely annoying.

  17. Brian

    December 22, 2011 at 9:41 AM

    “ya know” at every pause gets on my nerves.

  18. HappyJames

    December 21, 2011 at 9:57 PM

    Twenty four seven should be at the top actually if you know what I mean. Whatever…

  19. Jim Wiggin

    December 21, 2011 at 4:49 PM

    Seriously, choosing the most annoying out of a pre-selected list of, like, 5, is, you know, not exactly scientific, just sayin’. Some of them seem dated, last year’s (or decade’s) model.

    An oldie but goodie is, “To tell the truth …” as if you could assume the speaker is lying without that assurance.

    My nomination, which nearly every TV talking head and everybody enlisted for fake TV interviews over the past year or two uses: Absolutely. I’ve heard interviewees use it several times in a 30-second piece. The most annoying thing? The answer to the question is usually far from absolute. Whatever.

  20. Judy

    December 20, 2011 at 11:23 PM

    “…..if you will.” and “at the end of the day.”

  21. Janice McLellan

    December 20, 2011 at 7:59 PM

    I hate, hate, hate this one:

    “Am I making sense?”

    I always respond: “No, you are not making a bit of sense.” Just to see what they will say. Ha.

  22. carrie

    December 20, 2011 at 7:54 PM

    I got a slap in the face in the 60’s for saying”you know what I mean” every other word. MOm just salpped my face or was it my brothers?

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  24. Michael Lassell

    December 19, 2011 at 2:56 PM


  25. Jan Hicks

    December 19, 2011 at 1:18 PM




  26. Charles-Henri

    December 19, 2011 at 12:35 PM

    I am happy to find out that I am not alone. When I talk to my teenagers and when they cannot reply back they will often reply back by saying “whatever” in a nonchalant way. It really get my blood boiling.

    The other work that I find ignorant is ” What’s up”

    I could go on but I don’t think it would be proper.

    Thank you

  27. John

    December 19, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    Yups – that’s the word I find on most sites by most people where comments are allowed!
    Indeed it is the most frequently used word on the net and in real life.

  28. suhas

    December 19, 2011 at 1:51 AM

    “Whatever” really sounds annoying !! Several of my friends use this word frequently & it really puts me off !! suhas katti

  29. Tom

    December 16, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    The word “actually” is the most annoying word that is waaaay overused!!!

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