The Top Ten Words or Phrases That Make You Cringe

So I’ve been looking at some topics for blogs, and I find all kinds of great ideas.  One of the more amusing ones is posting about personal stuff or pet peeves, so your readers get to know you better. This idea can work, but it can also be a disaster. I’ve seen writers post all manner of personal stuff that, quite frankly, I don’t want to know. Worse, there’s no compelling reason to care. Does Glenda’s reader really need to know that she collects her own toenail clippings? Do my readers care that I don’t remember what I had for breakfast two weeks ago, but still remember the lyrics to every Frank Zappa song I learned when I was in high school?

I’m going to guess no. But pet peeves, well, that could be interesting…especially if they’re somehow relevant for writers, or just writing in general for civilians.

And then it hit me: with the continual (d)evolution of our language, there are some highly annoying phrases out there right now that make my skin crawl…that makes me feel like that guy above. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. Looking at articles online that address this topic – Most Annoying Words and Phrases of 2016, etc. – I find that even the perennial offenders like whatever or like don’t bother me as much as some of the others.

Thus we have with my current, latest, on-the-fly Top Ten Words or Phrases That Make You Cringe.

  1. Adulting – I thought it was bad when the word parenting became not only accepted but common. Never did figure out what was wrong with just saying raising children (maybe it was George Carlin: “Don’t plant ’em too deep!”), but okay…whatever! And now we have devolved to adulting? What’s next? Childing? This one is so weird that my phone autocorrected it to faulting when I typed it. Makes sense to me.
  2. Having said that/That being said – This is the new “um.” A totally unnecessary placeholder phrase. What surprises me is how many professional speakers, who are excellent at what they do, stick this into a talk…multiple times! I just came from an event with people who are way better speakers than me, and yet, I caught a few of them doing this…a lot.
  3. Epic – Okay, you know this one is bad. Worse than awesome. Let’s face it, awesome has, to some degree, become synonymous with cool. But if you say everything is epic, well, guess what? Nothing will be epic.
  4. At the end of the day – Having said that, I’m now going to be businesslike and make sure you know that, when it comes right down to it, at the end of the day…ah, just forget it.
  5. “No words” – I believe this gets written more than said, mainly on social media. It expresses horror, shock, sadness, etc., I guess. Problem is, you just wrote two words to tell us you have no words. See the problem?
  6. Cray cray – Okay, I’ll admit, I don’t think I’ve ever heard this from a person I actually know. This is more an obnoxious TV personality thing. But it’s beyond annoying. This is getting into punishable offense material. Just say crazy, okay? Better yet, don’t. Maybe that person has a genuine mental health issue.
  7. Porn – What? Porn, you say? Well, I’m talking about people calling everything that’s not porn, porn. Food porn. Nature porn. I don’t know that it necessarily devalues or legitimates actual porn, but it’s stupid, and kind of weird. Besides, do you really want to have to explain to your three-year-old when they ask, “Mommy, what’s word porn?”
  8. Vajayjay – Urban Dictionary has a great definition for this: The most annoying word known to woman. Now, I don’t know who started the trend – and again, I’ve never heard a person I know use it – but it’s childish. I get that some people think the word vagina sounds, well, overwhelmingly medicinal, but come on. There has to be a better solution.

Okay, there’s my list. I know, I only went as far as eight, but honestly, … don’t you feel bad enough just from those?

You’re welcome.


Mike Sahno
Mike Sahno
Born in Bristol, CT, Michael J. Sahno began writing stories at an early age. He obtained a Master of Arts in English from Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY at the age of 24, going on to become a full-time professional writer in 2001. Since founding Sahno Publishing in 2015, he has gone on to achieve national and international recognition, gaining over 18,000 followers on Twitter and publishing and selling three novels both in the U.S. and abroad. Sahno has ghostwritten books for entrepreneurs in the U.S., and continues to electrify audiences with his story and his natural gift for entertaining while informing.

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  1. “Like”, as in “I was like calling him” or “I was like OMG”.
    The other one “at”, as in “where’s it at” or “where is she at”.
    Finally, “Could of” instead of “Could’ve” or “Could have”
    Grrr 😀

  2. OK, so as so often happens, the comments are as good — if not better — than the original article! And I say that with 100% respect, Mike! Love the article. So many awful words and phrases … so little time.

    Oh, wait. What did I just do?

    One of my least-favorite ones is “everything happens for a reason.” Duh. Ya think? Of course, the reason may be nothing more than something accidental, but …

    Got me laughing, something I always appreciate!

    • Thanks, Susan….I think? Yes, I must give credit to Lassie B. for making me laugh out loud. I’m a pretty tough audience, too!

    • Yeah, I love it when the jokes just keep coming, Mike! And your article is one that’s hard to resist! Great job.

    • Aw, I appreciate that, Susan. And thanks again for stopping by!

  3. ‘Lover’ . It puts me in mind of a 19th century Frenchman and his lady, or Pepe Le Pew. “We are lovers.” “I took him as a lover’. and ‘Make Love to me’. I think love is highly over-rated and I often cringe to hear it used like that. Reading it is ok……some more? ‘Crisp it up under the broiler. Hot and crispy. Spice it up. Eggs to order. Coffee’s up. Succulent (or suckle) applied to a human body part. Tender. Be tender, my lover, when we make love…but don’t be afraid to spice it up as I suckle your succulent toes. Later, we will have hot and crisp food from under the broiler, eggs to order as soon as the coffee’s up.”

    • Lassie, you had me laughing out loud at these. I’ve also noticed quite a few people object to the word ‘moist’…especially in the kinds of contexts you mentioned!

  4. I find that when traveling to various English speaking countries there are many word that cause some irritation especially when used indiscriminately, ..words like, Whatever, Awesome, Amazing, Dude, Bro, Creepy, No offense, but….. and a few more choice words not worth to mention here.

    • And don’t, like, forget “like.” Ha! Thanks for stopping by, Jonathan.

    • “Like” as a comma is just, like, infuriating at this point.