12 of this decade’s most irritating words and phrases

It is what it is? No, not really—not ever, please.


Every decade has its words and phrases that became worn out from overuse.

For example, the 1960s had “groovy.” The ’70s introduced the tired word “bummer.” In the ’80s, “bitchin'” turned everyone into a surfer dude, and after the ’90s, no one wanted to hear the word “bling” anymore.

As for this millennium, I nominate “metrosexual” as the most irritating word thus far.

(Note: I won’t mention “like” and “you know” and “all” as replacements for the word “said.” They are too far-gone to be listed here.)

Here are 12 of the most irritating words and phrases today:

1. It is what it is

But it shouldn’t be anymore.

2. Man cave

Let’s let this one stay in its hole and not come out for a while.

3. Amazing

Um, not so much.

4. Baby bump

Enough already. Pregnant is pregnant.

5. Awesome

It is used so often it means nothing. This one gets the award for most overused.

6. Whatever

Dismissive and rude. Used by sullen teens everywhere. Another one that has transcended time.

7. Literally

Said like this: “LIT-rally.” What is that about, anyway?

8. Think outside the box

This is so tired that we should all start thinking inside the box instead.

9. It’s all good

Except it’s not all good. Some of it’s just OK. Some is bad—like this tired phrase.

10. Process

We are all in process, processing, in the process of, etc. Maybe we should stop processing and just do or be.

11. Just a thought

This usually precedes a critical or argumentative statement. It’s unnecessary and condescending.

12. Virtual

At this point, so much of our lives are virtual (if we are computer-based) that we need to come up with an alternate word that means online reality. Because it’s not virtual anymore—it’s real. What words or phrases drive you crazy?

Sharon Greenthal blogs about her observations of the world around her, from the important to the inconsequential at Empty House, Full Mind. A version of this story first appeared on the 12 Most blog.

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