What makes a phrase cringe-worthy? The Huffington Post editors were asked which common phrases bother them the most. The common thread among the responses was uselessness. Often, the phrases that we find off-putting are those that serve as conversational fillers, implying that the speaker is vapid or has little else to contribute to the conversation. Let us know if there are more that should on the list.
Common life phrases
“Everything happens for a reason.”
… except when it doesn’t.
“If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.”
“If fact #1 is true, then fact #1 is true.” This falls under the “you actually just said nothing” category.
Rhyming does not an acceptable phrase make.
“I’ve got a case of the Mondays.”
Who wouldn’t, after Sunday funday?
What you really mean
This expression, like “let me think,” is somewhat of a conversation hedge, so we can forgive it. Still, why call attention to the fact that you’re saying what you mean? Do you normally not say what you mean?
“To be frank…”
“As opposed to the rest of the things I say, which are evasive…”
“Typically I’m lying, but in this case I’m being honest.”
Just sayin’ what?! And why do you feel the need to alert people that you are, indeed, speaking? “Just sayin'” is often followed by a rude statement, in a feeble attempt to soften the blow.
So… you mean “no”? If you mean no, just say “no”!
“At the end of the day…”
The metaphorical version of the already trite, “when it’s all said and done…”. The best part? It’s said at all hours of the day.
So… is it the same? Or different? Are the differences between the two things that you’re comparing the same?
“Do what you love.”
This is a nice sentiment, but it oversimplifies the task of finding a vocation, hobby or path. Plus, it implies that everyone has the ability and funds to follow their hearts, whether their hearts desire terminal degrees, improv classes, or their very own Etsy shops.
“Let me tell you something.”
Along the lines of, “Can I ask you something?” this phrase is completely needless.
Because what’s success without severe aggression? Also, it may be physically impossible to say this phrase without simultaneously high-fiving someone.
“Work hard, play hard.”
If you’re really working that hard, wouldn’t you need to sleep hard at some point?
“Give 110 percent.”
“I apologize if I made you feel that way.”
i.e. “I refuse to take responsibility for my actions.”
This expression makes light of a mistake — rather than a sincere apology, “my bad” is the verbal equivalent of a shrug.
“Sorry I’m not sorry.”
Fine when used facetiously, but so irritating when said in earnest. It’s a more straightforward version of the above.
This is fine when said to someone who had sincere worries, but is often used passive aggressively, as in: “I’m going to be a little late.” “No worries!” Wait, should I have been worried?
“Your concerns are not valid and are totally drowning out my Phish live stream.”
Daniel is an Art Director and Graphic Designer with over a decade of experience in advertising and marketing in the Greater Toronto Area.