This Is the Most Annoying Word You Keep Using

A majority of Americans think this is the most annoying word you use in conversation.

We all fear that we're being annoying from time to time, but it's usually pretty easy to tell if we're infuriating other people. On the other hand, if your irksome behavior is something you do or say pretty regularly, you might not be picking up that people think it's bothersome. And it may all come down to the most annoying word you probably keep using: "whatever." Read on to find out how this word became known as the most annoying word in the English language, and for more words you should avoid using, check out these 5 Words That Will Make You Sound Less Confident, According to Experts.

At the end of the year, the Marist Institute for Public Opinion releases poll data based on what Americans say is the most annoying word. We don't yet know if "whatever" will prove the most annoying word of 2020, but that certainly wouldn't be a surprise because "whatever" has taken the top spot as the most annoying word used in conversation for more than a decade—it was first voted as such in 2009 and topped the 2019 list last year.

"The word 'whatever' has become annoying because it is increasingly misused. In today's context, the word means indifference or offense," says Tatiana Gavrilina, a linguist and content marketing writer for DDI Development. "This causes misunderstanding, understatement, and emotional non-involvement in each other's affairs."

According to Gavrilina, when someone is answered with the word "whatever," they typically assume that the person speaking is not interested in the conversation—which can be pretty annoying.

In 2019, 34 percent of Americans said that they found "whatever" to be the most annoying word they hear other people use. The year before that, 36 percent of Americans said they felt the same way.

However, how annoying you find this word might depend on how old you are. For those under 45, 31 percent found it to be the most annoying, while a slightly higher number of Americans 45 or older—36 percent—said the word bothers them. And that tracks, because "whatever" is generational.

"'Whatever' has longevity and long-standing roots in pop culture, thanks to the 1995 movie Clueless," Mary Griffith, the director of Media Initiatives and Polling News at The Marist Poll, said in a statement. "So, it makes sense that the often dismissive 'whatever' resonates [as annoying] more so with older Americans than younger ones."

Rest assured "whatever" isn't the only word Americans hate to hear. For the other words and phrases Americans voted as most annoying, keep reading, and for more ways you might be bothering people, discover The Worst Pet Peeves Practically Everyone Finds Annoying.

1
"No offense, but…"

Man talking in meeting
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The phrase "No offense, but…" follows "whatever" as the most annoying thing you may be saying to people. Overall, 20 percent of Americans say this is the worst thing they hear. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

2
"Dude."

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Some people are just not fans of informal, slang nicknames. The word "dude" apparently irritates 16 percent of Americans, as they say this is the most annoying word people use. And for more slang terms, check out these Everyday Slang Words That Were Invented Online.

3
"Literally."

Two business people sitting in office having conversation, woman looking towards man with concerned expression
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People may find this word annoying because it's not often used correctly. In fact, 14 percent said they find this word to be the most annoying when used in conversation. And for more words you could be using incorrectly, here are 50 Words You Hear Every Day But Don't Know What They Mean.

4
"Please wait, I'll be right with you."

man upset with telemarketing robocalls while talking to a telemarketer on a cell phone
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Whether it's said by a customer service representative or while you're waiting for a table at dinner, it's clear Americans don't like to be kept waiting. In 2019, 9 percent of American adults said this is the phrase they feel is the most annoying. And for more annoying things you're doing, This is the Most Annoying Text You're Sending All the Time.

Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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