Annoying words and phrases

I have written about clichés in a previous blog but there are some words and phrases that are just as annoying as clichés. Clichés at least have the distinction of once being original — it’s their overuse that makes them best avoided. But there are other annoying words and phrases that not only suffer from overuse, they also sometimes have a hidden agenda.

Here are some examples:

With all due respect

This is intended to mitigate the effect of disagreeing with someone but it is often used sarcastically to show the complete opposite (i.e. disrespect).

At the end of the day

If used literally, there should be no problem with this phrase but how often is it used literally? it is just another annoying phrase which typically has nothing to do with the time of day and is used by people who can’t be bothered to think of anything more original.


Talking of literally, no, you can’t literally be dying of embarrassment. Literally means actually, and embarrassment isn’t a known cause of death.

No offence but …

Anyone who says this is probably about to say something offensive.


There is nothing wrong with the word ‘like’ when it is used correctly but as a filler word, it can become avery annoying. People who say  “I was like’, ‘I was like there’, “I was like talking to him’, ’that’s like so unfair’ sound uneducated. But then maybe it’s just another filler word like ‘um’ and ‘ah’ which we all use from time to time to give us a chance to consider what we want to say next. Nevertheless, too many ‘ums’, ‘ahs’ and ‘likes’ are all equally annoying.

At this moment in time

Apart from being tautologous this phrase is often used by people who want to avoid saying ‘this is not going to happen’. For example: ’At this moment in time it is not possible to offer you a promotion’.

To be honest

This suggests that anything that has been said before was questionable (i.e. not honest).

In my humble opinion

People who say this are typically expecting everyone to agree with them because they assume they are right.

Just saying

By adding ‘just saying’ after making a hurtful or provocative remark, the speaker suggests that that they aren’t going to take any responsibility for what they have just said. It is effectively a way of saying whatever you want without expecting to be challenged.

Think outside the box

If people roll their eyes in despair when you say this don’t be surprised. Given that the expression is supposed to inspire creativity, its overuse has made it one of the least creative ways of asking people to think creatively.

Step up to the plate

This is an expression used in baseball and in my opinion this is where it should stay. In other contexts it means to face a challenge, take responsibility, rise to the occasion but through overuse it is now a very annoying phrase.

For more examples of annoying words and phrases, check out the following link to an article on the IvyPanda educational blog which highlights how crutch words and filler words detract from the quality of speech and writing. There is some overlap in the examples I have included but there are also some very useful tips on how to overcome crutch words when speaking.

To Cut or Not to Cut: Filler Words in Your Speech & Writing

Annoying words and phrases that are best avoided

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