As an aside, can we also please get rid of uptalk (a.k.a."high rising terminal")? That is the annoying tendency for the speaker to end a declarative sentence as if it is question.
Getting back to the worn-out or stale phrases, while in general they sometimes fit the situation, more often they often just create noise or doubt.
In no particular order, here are some of the prime offenders in the media or periodically in ordinary discourse:
- "To be honest with you" "To tell you the truth" or "Honestly..." [big red flag--especially when the speaker is under oath]
- "Absolutely" [What's wrong with just "Yes"?]
- "Exactly right" [why is "exactly" necessary?]
- "At the end of the day..."
- "It is what it is"
- "singing Kumbaya"[this is NOT funny any more if it ever was]
- "That being said..." [zinger follows]
- "Throwing [someone] under the bus" [that bus is responsible for a huge body count]
- "Comfortable in his own skin"
- "Tax cuts for the rich"
- "He's a good character guy," "he's a class act" -- variant "He's a good clubhouse guy" [from sports--but no longer used to describe the same player after the inevitable DUI or domestic violence arrest occurs]
- "Thanks for taking my call" [from talk radio, where the whole idea is to take calls]
- "How ya doin'" [this was old when The Sopranos was new]
- "Existential threat" [Please let us not hear this in the presidential debates ever again.]
- "I don't have a dog in the fight"
- "I have your back" or "You have my back"
- Sports fans who oddly use the word "we" to describe their favorite team even though they aren't employed by the team, have no family employed by the team, or own stock in the team.
- "Beyond the pale"
- "Politics ain't beanbag"
- "I'm not gonna lie"
- Starting a sentence with "I mean"
Please let us know your least favorites too!
Update: By coincidence, shortly after the above was posted, Marist College came out with its annual survey of the most annoying words or phrases in casual conversation based on a sample of about 1,000 adults. The Marist Poll results indicated that the top five most annoying words (in order) are:
- you know
- just sayin'
- Amazing [yes, this overused word should have been on our list too]
- Baby Bump
- Shared Sacrifice
- Man Cave
- The New Normal
- Pet Parent [haven't heard this one in common use at all]
- Win the Future
- Thank you in advance