Most annoying phrases in the English language

Adam   Wed Feb 28, 2007 9:11 am GMT
Annoying? You ain't seen nothin' yet...

By Nigel Reynolds, Arts Correspondent
Daily Telegraph


We lit the blue touchpaper and you, The Daily Telegraph community, exploded.

From an acorn sown by one reader in our letters page last week about linguistic pet hates, a mighty oak has grown, not least on our website's Your View slot which asked: "What is the most annoying phrase in the English language?"

At the risk of sending blood pressure levels soaring even further, it might be said that hundreds of you hit the ground running and quite literally bombarded our website and letters page with words, phrases, Americanisms, solecisms, neologisms and tautological shockers that you say are decimating the lifestyle of the planet.

Here are some of the best examples, but keep pushing the envelope, dear reader. We don't want closure yet. This is connectivity, innit.


I'm gobsmacked!
9/11 – typical American simplification which runs the risk of trivialising.
There you go (when being served).
No problem (in concurrence as when ordering the steak au poivre on the menu in front of you).
I'm good (in reply to how are you?)
Weather forecasters, invariably female and speaking received English, referring to the Mediterranean as the Med as though they have some proprietary interest. Still it could be worse. Shaaars for showers!



I deplore FOR free instead of free of charge or for nothing.
Different TO instead of different from.
GOT bored OF instead of became bored with.
The LIKES OF instead of just listing the people to whom the writer is referring for comparison.
Train station instead of railway station.
I loathe the incorrect emphasis in the word controversy, eg conTROVersy instead of CONtroversy.
Also the Americanisation of the word metamorphosed into morphed.
We seem to have a generation unable to express themselves correctly. Those of us educated in World War Two and shortly after, had the most disrupted education in the last 70 years, yet still manage to write correct English.

Adrienne Burns


How many times does Richard Keys from Sky say "on the back of"?
Count how many times teenagers say the word like in each sentence, or sort (silent t) of (silent f) like.
Why on Earth does each statement need to sound like a question with raised tones at the end?

Traff Matthews


The use of stand out to mean outstanding. One can stand out in a crowd if one is tall, but a rugby player can be outstanding. The terms are not interchangeable.

Michael Short


Has anyone else noticed the improper use of the word player?

During the recent terrorist alerts, searches and arrests the Home Secretary, John Reid, and the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, referred to the people they were hunting as players. I should have thought the word suspect or suspected perpetrators would be more appropriate a description of people with such despicable motives.

In my view the word player reduces the seriousness of terrorism to that of a simple PlayStation game.

Linda Scannell


Birth mother.
Serving Suggestion on food wrappers, where the only suggestion I can see is possibly the use of a plate. Health Scare: what is wrong with ill?

Jane Boyles


New and improved. Clearly if it is new it can't be improved & if it has been improved then it cannot be new!

Nev Hazelwood


For years I have been annoyed by the phrase humanitarian disaster when what is meant is human disaster.

Dorothy Podmore


Next time you hear someone being interviewed on the Radio 4 Today programme, listen out for "As far as…" (as in "As far as tax cuts John, I think xyz") – surely what they mean is "Regarding xyz" or "As far as xyz is concerned…"!

Anabel Inge


When did the phrase for free originate? In my younger days you either received things free or for nothing. The word for in for free is completely superfluous.

Norman Hildreth


My bugbear is the word issues being used instead of problem, as in "Are there any issues attached to this?". Do we have to disappear into a sea of platitudes?

Jan Kilby


Anything uttered by the gabbling yapping Sarah Montague on the Today programme thus disturbing the peace of my shaving. A few examples: Ireray (IRA) terrist, Sco'land, gunna (going to), bin (been), ten ter nine, you're listening t' T'day, arfnoon, neow (now).

To say nothing of the braying laugh and desperate interruption of interviewees, when discourse of interviewee is punctuated by Mi, Mi, Mi if his title is Mr.

Full marks to David Cameron for refusing to be interrupted by Montague.



Many have already been mentioned, but my pet hates are blue sky thinking – uggh just hate it!, – and heads up.

Why on Earth business managers have to come out with such phrases is beyond me, it's as if they are trying to make a point of saying I'm superior to you. So "listen up" mateys!! When I hear these I turn off.



1 Febyouerry for the current month
2 The use of fulsome as in John Motson's "a fulsome shot" or as a compliment rather than a pejorative word.
3 Seckerterry, as in Home Seckerterry (frequently used by news readers).
4 Gobsmacked (a disgusting word!).
5 Trauma to describe upset or inconvenience.

Jim Whitton


The most annoying phrases are those employed by TV & radio presenters such as ahead of (meaning before), the other side of (after) and at the top of the programme (at the top of their script, presumably).
Some people seem to be annoyed at the use of different to, but surely even that is better than different than!!!

Graham Brown
28EV   Wed Feb 28, 2007 9:40 am GMT
What I find annoying is all this constant carping and whining about the direction the language is taking.

I haven't the slightest doubt that, were you to check the letters to the editor of the Telegraph back in 1935, you'd find much the same griping about newfangled language use.
Andy   Wed Feb 28, 2007 11:57 am GMT
That's true. The English language was always better in the "good old days". Move on people. The times have changed and so has the language.
Jim   Wed Feb 28, 2007 3:59 pm GMT
Yeah, how about those young folk and their use of "you" as a singular pronoun?
Rene   Thu Mar 01, 2007 4:38 pm GMT
Wow, for peet peeves, those don't seem like very annoying words/phrases, or even ones that you hear very often. Still, I guess everybody has their own list of small things that annoy them and that nobody else seems to notice and I'm probably as bad as anyone.