‘Whatever’ continues to be the most annoying word in America

December 20, 2017

For the ninth consecutive year, Americans say that “whatever” is the most annoying word or phrase used in casual conversation, based on results of a Marist poll released on December 18. However, fewer Americans—just 33% as opposed to 38% last year—feel that way now than in polls conducted previously.

Respondents under the age of 45, compared with their older counterparts, do not find the word all that bothersome. And pollsters think they know they reason why: “Since 2015, we have seen a narrowing between ‘whatever’ and the rest of the list,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “It has been more than 20 years since ‘whatever’ first gained infamy in the movie Clueless. While the word irks older Americans, those who are younger might not find ‘whatever’ to be so annoying.”

Twenty-eight percent of the younger respondents cited “no offense, but” as the phrased that provoked them.

Among the other words and phrases that annoyed respondents this year was “fake news”—which took second place overall, with 23%; followed closely by “no offense, but,” which peeved 20%. Add to that the 11% of U.S. adults who think “literally” is the most grating word used in conversation; while 10% assert “you know what I mean” is the most vexing..

Last year, “whatever” led the list; followed by “no offense, but,” which angered 20% of respondents. “Ya know, right” and “I can’t even” each garnered 14%. Eight percent of Americans deemed “huge” to be the most irritating word or phrase spoken in casual conversation.

Opinions differ based on age. A plurality of U.S. residents 45 and older, 40%, believe “whatever” is the most annoying spoken word. In contrast,. A similar 26% of these residents consider “whatever” to be the most grating word or phrase used in casual conversation.

Research contact: Daniela Charter (@DanielaCharter)

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