Literally, the most hated phrases

Trip Start Jan 30, 2007
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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Thursday, November 20, 2008

From the Daily Telegraph poll and Oxford research, we now know what words to use to annoy others - so at the end of the day, going forward, give it 110%, and read this:

The word tops the list of those phrases and sayings that cause untold irritation.

The response of 700 Daily Telegraph readers in an online poll, showed "literally" outstripped "basically", "a safe pair of hands" and "I'm gutted" in the top 10 of the most annoying utterances.

The overuse of the word "basically" and "upcoming" made the list as did the grammatically incorrect "shouldn't of", instead of "shouldn't have".

Daily Telegraph readers were responding to a top 10 of irritating expressions which has been compiled by researchers at Oxford University.

Top of the university's list was the expression "at the end of the day", which was followed in second place by the phrase "fairly unique".

The tautological statement "I personally" made third place - an expression that BBC Radio 4 presenter John Humphreys has described as "the linguistic equivalent of having chips with rice".

The phrases are highlighted in a new book on the jargon, poor grammar and meaningless expressions which litter modern speech.

'Damp Squid: The English Language Laid Bare' is named after the mistake of confusing a squid with a squib, a type of firework.

Researchers compiled the list using Oxford University Corpus database, which alerts them to new words and phrases by monitoring books, papers, magazines, television and the internet.

The database can tell which words are being misused as well as identifying expressions which are disappearing.

Jeremy Butterfield, author and lexicographer, says that many over-used expressions, considered annoying, actually began as office "lingo", such as "24/7" and "synergy".

"We grow tired of anything that is repeated too often - an anecdote, a joke, a mannerism - and the same seems to happen with some language," he said.

Daily Telegraph readers responded in their hundreds to the words which annoyed them.

Alan Sutton said: "My pet hate is the word "upcoming". Whatever happened to forthcoming? Another Americanisation of the English language wholly supported by the BBC."

Colin Sherlock said: "Literally, I can't believe people have forgotten the infuriatingly inaccurate use of the word 'literally'."

Oxford University's top [sic] ten most irritating phrases:

1 - At the end of the day

2 - Fairly unique

3 - I personally

4 - At this moment in time

5 - With all due respect

6 - Absolutely

7 - It's a nightmare

8 - Shouldn't of

9 - 24/7

10 - It's not rocket science

Daily Telegraph top ten list:

1 Literally

2 A safe pair of hands

3 I'm gutted

4 Basically

5 Going forward

6 Upcoming

7 Shouldn't of

8 Up until

9 Neither here not there

10 On a daily basis
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