BOSTON Dec 21 No offense, but Americans are
seriously ticking each other off with their huge overuse of the
word "whatever." I mean, we can't even. Ya know, right?
It's highly likely that any reader who made it through that
paragraph felt a little annoyed by the end, based on the
findings released on Wednesday of an annual Marist College poll
of Americans' language pet peeves.
The word "whatever," most often used to dismiss another
speaker's idea, topped poll respondents' list of the words or
phrases they found most annoying in conversation for an eighth
straight year, with 38 percent of respondents saying it bugged
The dubious honor of second-most annoying interjection went
to "no offense, but," with one in five of the 1,005 people
polled from Dec. 1 through 9 saying it was their top linguistic
"Ya know, right," and "I can't even," were tied, with 14
percent of respondents saying those phrase were their top
"Huge" ranked fifth, with 8 percent of respondents saying it
rankled them more than the other four. Feelings on the word, a
common linguistic flourish of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump,
broke down along party lines with 10 percent of Democrats
objecting to it, while just 5 percent of Republicans said it
For reasons that are unclear, nearly half of Republicans
named "whatever" as their top peeve, more than the 37 percent of
Democrats who objected to the word.
The survey also suggested a generational shift may be
coming, with just 24 percent of millennial respondents aged 18
to 34 objecting to "whatever," far fewer than the 54 percent of
Baby Boomers, now aged 51 to 69, who did so.
What set millennials' teeth on edge? "I can't even" was the
most objected-to phrase, with 28 percent of that generation
citing it, while just 5 percent of Baby Boomers minded.
That suggests a shift in the cultural roots of annoyance,
with the rise of "whatever" to the 1995 film "Clueless," while
"I can't even" is more commonly used as an internet meme, said
Mary Griffith, the survey's media director. "It really comes
down to the impact that pop culture has on our society as a
whole," Griffith said. "We are seeing this evolve."
(Editing by Alistair Bell)