The Ten Most Annoying Phrases in the English Language

Compiled by Oxford researchers:

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

Personally, I’d probably add “ironic” and “ironically” because most of the time they’re used wrong!


110 responses to “The Ten Most Annoying Phrases in the English Language

  1. Kate – how are they used? 🙂

  2. I would add “begs the question” for the same reason – I think I have heard it used the right way twice in the last ten years, and once it was by me. 🙂

  3. And…

    “If I’m being honest…”

  4. Every time someone says “irregardless”, God kills a kitten.

  5. And, “literally.”

    No, dumbass, you didn’t literally die when Tommy didn’t ask you to the dance, but your bad grammar makes me wish you would.

  6. “period of time” when “period” will do. “public hearing”: By definition, hearings are public.

    I have to agree that the overuse/misuse of “literally” is driving me nuts.

    “At the end of the day” is almost always uttered by someone who works inside the Washington Beltway.

  7. I want to punch someone when I hear “you know what I’m saying.” Also when people make things famous people say into sayings, like “it is what it is” and “that’s hot.”

  8. In actuality. Wow, I hate that one!

  9. It looks to me as if this company is quite a fan of number 10:

  10. I love this list. I’d like to add a couple that I hate just as much for their overuse as for their misuse:

    “no worries”

    Come on! What you mean is “that’s okay,” or “you’re welcome.” Also, saying that your idea/album/filing system came about “organically” does not make you seem smarter!

  11. This is one that I hear/see variations of a lot: “specializing in all things” (e.g. “specializing in all hair styles”). It drives me crazy!

  12. Erm…used incorrectly?

  13. One of my friends was shocked to recently learn that I didn’t like the song “Isn’t It Ironic?” As an English major, she thought I’d love it. I had to explain that most of it was misfortune.

    My addition to the list would be using “a day” when “per day” is meant. (This, obviously, would include all units of time.)

  14. Hehe, Kelli, you named one of them I was going to say. I scream inside when I hear that phrase misused. “Literally” and “irregardless” bug me. So does saying “ATM machine” and “PIN number”. My boss also uses a double is all the time and it’s so irritating. He says things like “the thing is is…” or “the thing was is….”

  15. I have a teacher that is fond of saying “it’s not rocket surgery” almost every single class. I cringe every time.

  16. “It is what it is” is the most overused and annoying phrase that I deal with on a daily basis. I know that most people understand the implication of that phrase, but in actuality, that sequence of words has no meaning and, in fact, does not offer any sort of revelation to whatever topic is being discussed.

    If you haven’t heard this phrase, you clearly haven’t been watching/listening to/talking about anything sports-related in the past year or so, particularly following Roger Clemens’ congressional hearing.

  17. I agree with styckywycket, literally is always used in the wrong context.

    Another overused phrase: “The thing is…” or “Here’s the thing…” or anything involving “The Thing.”

  18. My pet peeve is “a whole nother”

  19. I’d add, ” all I know is” and “hating on”. Please make them go away…

  20. I, too, hate “a whole nother”

    There is a commercial for Circuit City that has this horrible phrase. A woman is talking to a digital camera and asks it how it can be advertised for one price online and be “a whole nother price” in the store. It drives me crazy!

  21. How about “these (or those) kind of … “, which drives me nuts. Is it so hard to figure out that “kind” should be plural???

  22. “Basically.” The most useless word in the English language.

    “Ya know what I’m saying?” Maddeningly tacked on by some people to every declarative sentence.

    Even more common recently, and just as annoying, is “Does that make sense?”

    Using “Substantive” (usually a noun) in place of “Substantial” (an adjective).

    “Three times more” when you mean “Three times as much.”

    Starting every response to a question with “Well…”.

  23. Excellent list.

    I agree with all the comments too. Standing ovation for you, LaLoo.

    Another overused pointless phrase that makes me want to throw axes: “It goes without saying…” (then don’t say it!)

  24. “Don’t get me wrong” is said millions of times per day, but it’s so awkward, and usually superfluous.

  25. I don’t like ‘but the reality is…’ As in, “That person thinks that, but the reality is [my subjective opinion].”

    Also, in Hawai’i we often hear ‘mines’ instead of ‘mine’.

  26. Herb

    I confess – I sometimes use “Does that make sense.”

    However, I have a tendency to ramble, so when I do ask that question, it is because I honestly don’t know if what I said was coherent to anyone other than myself.

  27. “Out the gate”
    “Flush out” when”flesh out” is intended meaning

  28. I think the word, “outraged” is far overused. People are outraged at the price of food. Outraged that California banned gay marriage. Outraged that some store clerks say, ‘happy holidays’, instead of ‘Merry Christmas’. Outraged by people who say, “irregardless”. (Just kidding) Outraged at this. Outraged at that. Chill out.

  29. Just call me Joe

    I’ve got to go with mute for moot – hey, if it’s a mute point, would you shut up about it already!

  30. To make a long story short….

  31. How about “For all intents and purposes…”?

    Or, as it’s so often represented “For all intensive purposes…”?


  32. Without a doubt, the phrase that raises my hackles is “without a doubt”. No doubt.

  33. Oh how exciting! I am also a grammar/spelling Nazi and am so pleased to have stumbled across your blog! Great list, too.

  34. “literally” should literally be number ONE!

  35. My least favorite phrase is “my bad.” How in the world did that originate? My children are punished if they accidentally let a “my bad” slip.

  36. I compiled a similar list a while back. I’ve added a couple more now that I’ve read your responses.

    1. That’s neither here nor there.
    2. I heart (something)
    3. Sounds like a plan.
    4. Cool beans.
    5. Cells good.
    6. This is true.
    7. Thanks much.
    8. No worries.
    9. Shoot me an email.
    10. That’s what she said
    11. Describing anything as “rad.”
    12. Describing anything as “amazing.”
    13. Chillaxing.
    14. The Wifey (especially when referring to girlfriends of girls)
    15. Hope all is well!
    16. Cheers (said in earnest by people who are not from the UK and not trying to be cute, funny, or ironic)
    17. Training (when referring to working out or exercising) – C’mon, you’re not training for anything except the Superficial Olympics.
    18. Describing technology, inanimate objects, or ideas like investing in IRA’s as “sexy.”
    19. Pluralizing the word “all” as in “Alls I’m saying is…”
    20. I’m a fan of (insert noun or verb).
    21. Creating mathematical equations out of sentences like “ice cream + sunset = awesome.”
    22. best/worst/***st (something) EVER!

  37. I would add “Nothing personal” to the list. People always use that expression after issuing a devastating personal attack and expect it to absolve them of any ill intent.

  38. The one that is getting to me the most these days is, “On a (daily, weekly, annual, regular, . . . whatever) basis.” (sorry, LaLoo)

    How about just using daily, weekly, etc.?

    I think this usage must have been started by someone who was being remunerated by word count. After all, “on a daily basis” pays four times as much as “daily,” right?

  39. Don’t you mean…”because most of the time they’re used wrongly.”?

  40. I would like to add to the list: no problem …it makes me want to scream when people “no problem” instead of “You are very welcome or you’re welcome”

    Good grammar is becoming a thing of the past just like the use of good manners; very scarey.

  41. I’m surprised you didn’t include a recent addition: “Going forward!” At least Lucy Kellaway does not like it.

  42. who’s to say???

  43. I hate to be picky, but Kelly, you wrote:
    “Personally, I’d probably add “ironic” and “ironically” because most of the time they’re used wrong!” Actually, I think here that wrong is an adverb, as it is modifying used, which would mean that you should have written “used wrongly”. It does sound kind of strange, but it is correct. Think “used poorly” vs. the incorrect “used poor”. It’s the rule…I didn’t make it, I just follow it.

  44. This is an absolutely great list! Check my similar lists at


  45. wonderful list. I do hope they come up with a list of overused and annoying abbreviations. I gave my son a stupid look the first time he said “IDK” (huh) I don’t care that grandma says it in the commercial. When you speak, speak!! Do NOT abbreviate me. Waste of my time trying to figure it out. Really takes to long to say out loud? You want to know what I have to say to that–IDC!! Do it anyways and try to sound somewhat human. Pretty soon we will just be grunting again.

  46. Also:
    That said,
    That being said,

  47. I’d like to nominate, “We’re in agreeance.”

  48. I also hate when people say ‘sounds like a plan’ and ‘will do.’

    I looked up ‘nother’ on Merriam-Webster online and it’s actually a word. It’s incredibly irritating and sounds so stupid when someone uses it! Makes them sound uneducated.

  49. I would like to add “It was surreal”. It seems to be the standard response to an interviewer’s question.

    “So tell us what it was like to survive the crash?”

    “It was surreal.”

    arrgh. It makes me cringe every time I hear it.

  50. My pet peeves:

    Phoning ahead
    Advanced reservations
    Advanced planning
    Common sense (if it were common everyone would have it, yes?) It should be ‘good sense’.

  51. I agree with “going forward” and “no worries”.
    Also “keep me honest” or using “less” when it should be “fewer”. (There are three less items on this shelf.)

  52. ‘I don’t mean to be picky’
    ‘In my honest opinion’
    ‘If I were you’
    ‘Believe me’
    ‘watz up’

  53. Oooh, here’s a regular submission formula that makes me crazy during classroom discussion:

    [declarative statement]
    “… more or less.”

    This is even better when it’s combined with painful expressions such as “well,” “uh,” and “like.” Here’s a representative sample: “Well, I think the author’s saying that it’s, like, a bad thing that patriarchy still exists. Uh, more or less.”

  54. “Of all time” should not be used until the universe either goes dark or contracts to the Big Bang point again. “Historic” should not be used until at least 250 years have passed from the event being described. If anyone considers the event worthy of comment at that time, it may be historic but it may also be just an answer to a trivia question.

  55. Sveral that make me want to scream:

    “often times” instead of “often” or “many times” and the lack of the subjunctive form of the ver “to be”, ie, “If he was there, he would do the same thing.” I hear that constantly in the media.

  56. Sorry. Should have done my own “spell check.”

  57. My nomination for most irritating common phrase (especially when used by otherwise intelligent news anchors and journalists): Went missing

  58. My bugs (both pronunciation problems):

    When people say “Jew-la-ry” instead of “Jew-el-ry” and “Real-a-ter” instead of “Real-tor”. I suppose you can add “New-q-ler” in there, too.

  59. Oh, and while we are at it…let’s do away with “best _____ ever” and “worst ______ ever”. It was sort of cute at first, now tired and old.

  60. In the postscript to your “ten most annoying phrases, shouldn’t we say “used incorrectly”(or perhaps even “used wrongly”) instead of “used wrong”?

    Don’t we need an adverb here, not an adjective?

    Thanks. James M. Smith

    BTW, my nomination for most annoying phrase: “Think again”. This expression confuses two meanings of the word “think” (to consider, and to have an opinion). Thanks. Appreciate your response. JMS

  61. I nominate “random.” Like “literally,” people have begun to use it in contexts completely opposite its actual meaning. Yesterday my roommate discovered a “random” mousepad comprised of 100 identical sheets of “random” tic tac toe boards, “random” dots in a grid, “random” alphabet letters (in alphabetical order) et cetera, all “randomly” arranged in a very orderly, space efficient, and visually appealing fashion.

    So irritating. I think I’d like to throw a few random punches directly into the face of every random person who buys this thing.

  62. I also nominate “may or may not.”

  63. >Personally, I’d probably add “ironic” and “ironically” because most of the time they’re used wrong!

    Don’t you mean “they’re used incorrectly?”

  64. Oh! And here’s another one…

    I hate it when people say, “I could care less.” The phrase is “I couldn’t care less” people! It means I’m at the rock bottom on the scale of caring. Saying “I could care less” means that you have not hit bottom yet; however, that’s what the phrase is supposed to mean! Grrrrrrr…drives me nuts.

  65. People who make possessives out of words (word’s?) make my list of the top ten worst errors. The use of the word “myself” is most often used incorrectly (as “John and myself” or “myself and another person”) — I was almost fired for changing a letter my boss had written with “myself” used incorrectly. I had to get a grammar book and show him that it was incorrect.

    This is a great blog! I’m glad to know there are a lot of others who feel the same!

  66. I would like to submit “colder temperatures” to the list. Nearly every weather reporter I have heard is guilty of catching poor little temperatures and shoving thermometers up their cold little cracks! Nasty!

  67. It really disturbs me when people use the word “up” when it doesn’t add meaning to the word to which it is attached. The most common irritant I encounter is the use of “up” in connection with coming events. Unfortunately for me, it appears to be an evolving English language usage.

  68. I’m tired of hearing (especially in the South) “I’ve got a friend of mine” when it should be “I have a friend” or “A friend of mine”. I also hate “Kevin is going to the golf course with Simon and I”.
    I have a subscription to a hunting and fishing magazine in Georgia and it is full of grammatical errors. When I asked the editor to let me proof read it before it goes to print, he said that if it were perfect, his subscribers might not read it.
    Also, I receive a newsletter from a civic organization every month and the writer doesn’t know the difference between “there” and “their”. It hurts to read it.

  69. Submitted for your approval:

    “Most unique ” ( more unique than most, I guess )
    Would anyone say most only ? What they mean is unusual.

    “A rate of speed “. Speed is a rate of change.
    ( distance per unit time)

    “Issue ” I hear a commercial saying that most men will experience prostate issues. Yes they will, it’s called seminal fluid.

  70. Actually, the prostate secretes prostatic fluid which can be considered a part of seminal fluid.

  71. “You know”. I hate it. It was once funny, around 25 years ago when Valley Girls were using it. Now it has become an extremely overused phrase. Either I DO know or I DON’T, so please stop it already! That annoys me, you know.

  72. “Add an additional …”
    “Some of them include …”
    “It is important to note that …”

  73. My principal says “in reality” about every other sentence. He’s a nice man, but it drives me crazy!

  74. “How may I help you?”

  75. Is it possible to erase a word from the English language? “Basically” has to be the most evil word ever created. I’ve become so annoyed with its overuse and misuse that I repeat it whenever I hear it, regardless of the occasion. It’s fun in business meetings! I have cured several people of their basically addictions, and I will not stop until the word is gone!

  76. Here are two that bug me every time I hear them and I hear them all the time.

    “Come with” instead of “Come with me”.

    “On accident” instead of “an accident”.

  77. How about meteorologists who use “seasonable” to describe temperatures–temperatures are “seasonal”, while food is “seasonable.”

  78. I am surprised that my current top offender hasn’t been mentioned yet: Awesome. It’s so overused it’s lost its meaning. The universe might be considered awesome, but a new flavor of ice cream? No, sorry.

    Another pet peeve is the mispronunciation of the word, “extraordinary.” I, for one, would not care to be extra ordinary; I’m ordinary enough as it is.

  79. My three biggest peeves are…

    1) feeling badly – My husband says feeling badly is something teenagers do in the back seat of a car.

    2) pronouncing the “t” in often.

    3) sticking “wise” on everything. Such as “healthwise”, “hotdogwise”, “camerawise”. Our news media has gone crazy with this.

  80. Prepositions at the end. This is the sort of thing up with which I will not put.

  81. 10 – It’s not rocket science

    I often hear this one at work. The frightening part is, I work in aerospace engineering. It is rocket science!

  82. “Please RSVP.” There’s a nice tautology.

    (RSVP stands for “Respondez s’il vous plait,” which is “Please respond” in French. So “Please RSVP” means “Please respond, please.” Or something like that.)

  83. Here’s one that’s been heard a lot lately: Changing History.

    You can’t change history. History is the past, it’s already happened, it won’t change. You can change the COURSE of history. You can change your PERSPECTIVE on history. You can even make history, though claiming it at the moment of your accomplishment is a bit grandiose.

  84. Both numbers 1 and 4 became universal during controversial presidencies. “At this point in time” and “At that point in time” replaced “now” and “then” during Nixon’s troubles. Then “At the end of the day” became popular during Bubba’s difficulties. I guess, if you use more words than necessary, you can feel as though you have more to say.

    • When the phrase “It’s all good.” gets used in my presence for the tenth time in a day, I can’t help but wonder if the speaker would feel that way after I lit their hair on fire. Just askin’.

  85. “I was like…,” substituted for “I thought…” or “I said… .”

    “Between you and I, me and (pronounced me ‘n) and Joe are giong to his house.”

  86. People that … Friends that … Men that ….

    I find it so irritating! I often feel like saying: “It’s people who…friends who… men who! People are whos not thats!”

  87. It really bothers me when I hear, “..taken for granite”. Sadly, I have also seen it used in a term paper I graded while I was a teaching assistant at UCSB. That might have been all right in a geology class. Grr.

  88. it might sound completely wrong what i am about to add to the list, but it is very difficult for me to use the expression “looking forward to seeING ….”( or any other present participle after “to”), because it, really, does not fit with any of the english grammar rules I have been thought. I would, really, love if anyody can help me to understand it:)

  89. I, ovbiously,meant “taught” by my italian teacher of english; sorry:(

  90. Love these comments……how about:
    “What is your soup du jour today”? Ummm……..

    Also, particularly in the south, “I’m going to the movies with Martha Lou and them”. That drives me crazy.

    Some corporate blather that makes me want to puke:
    Run it up the flagpole
    Put in in the parking lot
    Put a pin in it
    Take the temperature

    And the current number one auditory annoyance: Those people who begin every sentence with “SO”. “So, I was talking with Billy and he is ok. So, we planned to go to the movies. So, I was checking out the movie times. So, there were a lot of choices…….STOP IT! PLEASE! This happens quite a bit in the workplace. If you need to pause, don’t say ummm or so, just shut up and gather your thoughts! 🙂 Ok, I feel better now!

  91. It bugs me when people use :
    prolly instead of probably
    supposively instead of supposedly
    pacific instead of specific

    -Self admittedly comma challenged

  92. People make mistakes. You have a problem if you can’t fix it, laugh, and move on. Get over it!

  93. whatever………..yes, whatever. If you can’t defend your position, admit it. Don’t say “whatever”. It not only sounds stupid, it makes you look stupid. Even “I’m outta here” is better than “whatever”! Instead of “whatever”, perhaps you might say “I’d like some time to consider your comments”.

  94. I LOVE this blog!! Here are some of my pet peeves:

    People who use “loose” instead of “lose” (and vice versa)

    “World famous” (as in “Aunt Martha’s world famous pie”) Does that mean that Aunt Martha has baked pies all over the planet and has become famous for her pastries in every country?

    “Aks” instead of “ask”

    “Rather” instead of “whether”. I know people who say “Rather or not…”

    I have many more, but some of them are ones that have already been covered here.

    Someone said, “How may I help you?” was a problem to them. May I ask why? That IS the correct way to ask if you may assist someone. Would they prefer to hear “kin I hep ya?” or “whut kin I do fir ya”? I once was in a cafeteria line in the south, and was asked, “kinepya?” While I was trying to decipher what had just been said to me, the woman impatiently asked me, “Wachavin?”

    Oh my!

  95. I’m so glad I found your blog! May I add to your list “very sort of”? This word combination makes me crazy! Also, a commercial on TV in which a young man promoting an acne medication states “I put some on at night and when I wake up in the morning, YOU don’t have acne” has the same effect.

  96. I would add:

    frankly [to begin a sentence]
    believe you me
    no problem
    best [to close a letter]
    have a nice day

  97. I would also like to add:

    “In my mind…” (who else’s mind would it be in?)

    “To be honest with you…” (are you usually not?)

    ending sentences with the word “at”

    overuse of the word “passionate” in business (usually said with absolutely no passion in their voice)

    “it’s a pants before shoes issue”

    saying “everything is a trade off”

    “In my humble opinion” and “imho”

    “the tallest midget in the room”

    using the word “off” instead of “of”

    saying “Valentimes”

    “low-hanging fruit”

    why do clerks mumble “aha” or “mmm” in response to a thank you at the checkout counter? It makes me feel like they are rejecting my thank you (and what’s wrong with “you’re welcome”?)

    and that’s

    “my two cents’ worth”

  98. Personal favourite:
    misuse of “which”, as in
    That person…which…I don’t even know him.

  99. Same difference. Ugh. If you’re talking mathematical equations you might come up with the same difference, but otherwise it makes no sense.

    Basically, literally, and the one that annoys me most of all, “I love (him, her, it) to death”. What does that mean?

    I also bristle (but not literally!) at “he and I’s wedding” or “she and I’s trip to Bermuda”. People think they sound smart using I insead of me, but they’ve simply lost the plot.

  100. Amy, re your comment of “jew-la-ry” instead of “jew-el-ry,” there is also the word “jewelery,” meaning the stuff sold by a jeweler; that may be the word you’re hearing instead. . .
    Melissa, I had a friend who supported the term “on accident,” but he didn’t mean “an accident;” he held that “on accident” was the opposite of “on purpose” and that both phrases should use “on” to be consistent, though he really should’ve said “by accident.”
    Agree with James et al. who caught the “used wrong” gaffe.
    Here in Taiwan I judge many speech contests; after their recitations, the students very often thank the judges with “Thank you for your listening” as if they appreciated my auditory powers.
    Also, possibly a cultural point, they tend to repeat the titular phrase when launching their speech, e.g.
    “Hello, everyone. Today I will be talking about my best friend.
    “My Best Friend.
    “My best friend is a kind. . . . . ”
    I love this blog! Great comments, everybody!

  101. I’ve heard a “whole ‘nother” version of Rocket science. An engineer I know calls it “Rocket scientry.”

  102. When people say “no offense, but..” I want to scream, because it is only said before incredibly offensive things.

    “No offense, but you smell.” “No offense, but you should lose some weight.”

    Both “Your mom” and “your face” annoy me too.

  103. Maresa Spangler

    OMG….I TOTALLY agree with one of the comments above:
    “best” to close a letter

    It makes no sense and I see that it is done more and more lately in “professional” situations. Also, to make matters worse, many people have this set as their automatic close, so you could end up with something like this:
    Dear Mrs. Smith,
    Your test results are positive. You have one month to live, as we discussed.

  104. I cannot believe no one has mentioned my BIGGEST pet peeve (unless I missed it in my haste): “to” instead of “too.” It’s as if everyone skipped the first grade. I see this in blogs all the time:

    “Taxes are to high,” or “Don’t use to much salt.”

    I also REALLY, REALLY hate all the various versions of “to hate”–“don’t be hating on…,” “haters,” and “haterade.”

  105. Here in MN we hear the following a lot:

    “Same Difference”
    “Will you borrow me that?”

  106. “By and large” — does it mean anything? Sounds pompous.

  107. Am sick of the phrase “you look amazing”.. it doesn’t sound grammatically correct to me…

  108. Instead of “shouldn’t of”, shouldn’t it be “shouldn’t have”?


    I shouldn’t have taken that cookie.
    I shouldn’t of taken that cookie.

    I understand that many people slur the two words together, making it sond almost like a double contraction (“shoudn’t’ve”), which creates the “of” sound.

    Of course, I speak American English, so there may be some distinction in this phrase I don’t understand that other English speakers may.

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