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The Most Annoying Word In the English Language, Again

Jun 4, 2018

Image: Whatever hand gesture-

"Whatever"   How does that word make you feel asks this article from As words go, it's not a particularly beloved one. For nine years straight, "whatever" has been voted the most annoying word in the English language. Sorry, bratty teenagers.

Seriously, Whatever.

One of the most exciting days for American English comes but only once a year: the day when the New Marist Institute of Public Opinion releases its poll results for the year's most annoying words or phrases. Demonstrating commendable staying power, the word "whatever" ranked as the most annoying word or phrase used in casual conversation. And this "Clueless"–esque word has held its less-than-coveted number-one spot for the past nine years, from 2008 to 2017.

Compared to 2016, "whatever" is beginning to gain a bit more acceptability. The poll found that only 28% of respondents under the age of 45 voted for "whatever," while it was the choice of 40% of respondents over 45. "It has been more than 20 years since 'whatever' first gained infamy in the movie 'Clueless,'" Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, said in a statement. "While the word irks older Americans, those who are younger might not find 'whatever' to be so annoying."

Annoying? That's Fake News

But what is it about "whatever" that really drives Americans bananas? Since 38 percent of the 1,005 people polled were most annoyed by the word "whatever," it's worth exploring. The Oxford Dictionary includes this informal definition: "Said as a response indicating a reluctance to discuss something, often implying indifference." It's the indifference bit that really grinds peoples' gears.

Here are all the words and phrases that ranked for really getting a rise out of people in 2017:

Whatever: 33%
Fake news: 23%
No offense, but: 20%
Literally: 11%
You know what I mean: 10%

For those keeping score at home, here were the words that annoyed the heck out of Americans in 2016:

Whatever: 38%
No offense, but: 20%
You know, right?: 14%
I can't even: 14%
Huge: 8%
Unsure: 5%


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