The Most Annoying Word or Phrase is…

December 17, 2010 ( – For the second year in a row, the Marist Poll finds that “whatever” is the most annoying word or phrase in conversation.


Cited by 39% of respondents, a count that suggests it was less annoying than last year (or perhaps less used), when it drew the support of 47%.  Still, the older you are, apparently the more annoying you find the phrase.

Younger Americans, those 18 to 29, were most put off by “like” – to the tune of 44%.  However, among those 30 to 44, 37% say “whatever” gets on their nerves the most.  46% of Americans 45 to 59 and 40% of those 60 and older agree.

“Like” was second-most (un)popular overall, with 28% finding it the most annoying, while “You know what I mean” was considered the biggest verbal gaffe by 15% of the population.  “To tell you the truth” grates the most on 10% (hey, why would I lie?)., while “actually” receives the dubious distinction from 5%. 

Three percent are unsure.  Whatever.

In 2009, the rankings (after “whatever”) were “you know” (25%), “it is what it is” (11%), “anyway” (7%), and “at the end of the day” (2%).  At that point, like, 8% were unsure.