They say that with age comes wisdom, but that doesn’t always mean maturity is part of the package, too. In fact, as 50 rapidly becomes the new 40, 50-somethings are seeming and acting younger than ever—for better or for worse. While, in some cases, that means the over-50 set is healthier, more active, and full of more joie de vivre than those who went before them, in others, it means their vocabulary is routinely being peppered with language that’s nothing short of cringe-inducing.
“People in general, as they get older should use and express a more mature vocabulary in general as a natural succession of age and maturity,” says etiquette coach Karen Thomas, founder of Karen Thomas Etiquette.
Thomas cautions specifically against older people using too much slang in their speech: “While believing us 50-somethings are ‘hip’ and in the know, you could be drawing more attention to your age than you’d like to. While I myself use slang rarely when speaking, everyone regardless of age should attempt to sound educated and mature—not rude and sassy!”
But if you don’t want your language to make you the most embarrassing member of your family, you’ve got time to clean up your act. We’ve compiled a compendium of things no woman over 50 should say. And for more ways to scrub your vocabulary, check out these 40 Words That Will Instantly Reveal Your True Age.
“Computers just don’t make any sense to me.”
Sure, if you’re in your 50s, you may not have grown up with computers, but that’s no excuse to be completely befuddled by them. Not only is computer literacy a requirement for countless jobs these days, it’s easier than ever to learn the programs you need to know. Even if you don’t want to shell out the cash for private lessons, your local library is a great resource—in fact, many offer digital literacy help and classes. And if you want to get more tech literate in a hurry, shop The 50 Best Buys at Best Buy.
“Millennials are so entitled.”
You may have heard that millennials are ruining the housing market, the diamond business, brunch, golf, the institution of marriage, and the 40-hour workweek, among other grievous offenses. However, not only is it a frustrating stereotype to call millennials the root of all of society’s woes, it’s also not even original. Older generations have been complaining about youth culture for generations, from those wild kids in the Jazz Age to those no-good hippies in the ’60s.
“When I was your age…”
In general, if a sentence begins with “When I was your age,” it ends with a patronizing statement describing how your fellow conversant should be living more like you once did. And it should come as little surprise to you that very few people are interested in receiving this kind of unsolicited advice. If you want to tell a funny anecdote about when you were a kid, have at it, but there are plenty of opportunities to do that without putting anyone down. And for more discursive faux pas, check out these 40 Slang Terms No One Over 40 Should Ever Use.
“No offense, but…”
If you have to preface a sentence with “no offense,” what comes after is inherently offensive. If you’re over 50, you’re certainly old enough to know better than to mount this kind of critiquing campaign.
Hey, everyone gets excited about new stuff from time to time. That said, if you’re over 50, exclaiming that something is “lit” is only going to make you sound like you’re desperately trying to seem youthful. “Unless one is starting a fire unbeknownst to others, refrain from this statement at any age!” says Thomas.
“Do I look fat in this?”
“If this statement doesn’t scream insecurity, I’m not sure what does,” says Thomas. At a certain age, you should more or less know your body—and that includes knowing whether or not you’re actually overweight or not. However, regardless of your size, it’s frustrating and burdensome to make other people assure you that you don’t look fat in an outfit, so ditch this question, post-haste.
What is it about people meeting each other online and occasionally going home together that seems like a cultural movement to certain older people? While dating may look different today than when you were younger, if you’re bemoaning the rise of so-called hookup culture, you’re making yourself seem woefully out of touch. And if you’re still single, check out The Best Dating Apps if You’re Over 40.
“I’m too old to…”
By current standards, you’re just reaching middle age when you hit 50. However, if you really want to make yourself seem a whole lot older, starting your sentences with “I’m too old to” is a great way to accomplish that goal.
Of course your 50-plus body probably doesn’t look the way it did at 20, but that’s no reason to describe yourself as having a “mombod.” It’s just your body, and you don’t need to put yourself down about how it looks.
“I just don’t get along with other women.”
If you’ve hit 50 and you can’t find common ground with the literally billions of women on the planet, the issue isn’t them: it’s you. While it’s fine to have a predominantly male friend group, acting like other women are simply too disagreeable is more than a little immature. “Making up an excuse to be uncivil to others is simply poor etiquette,” says Thomas.
“I’m such a cougar.”
Can you feel confident in your choice to date someone younger after 50? Absolutely. However, you don’t need to justify your decision by dubbing yourself a cougar—in fact, doing so makes a totally normal thing sound creepy and predatory.
“I can’t wear that at my age.”
While some of your former fashions will look undeniably dated when you’re 50-plus, that doesn’t mean your only choices for apparel are shapeless sacks. There’s nothing you can’t wear when you’re 50 or over—just a lot of items you know better than to spend your hard-earned cash on.
“A girl like me”
Many people use “girl” and “woman” interchangeably, but by the time you’re over 50, you should know better. You’re not some little kid—you’re a full-blown adult and should wear the title as a badge of honor.
“Could you look that up for me?”
Just because you don’t know the ins and outs of coding in Python doesn’t mean you can’t do anything for yourself when it comes to technology. If you don’t know how to do something, look it up. After all, it takes your kids or friends just as long, if not longer, to do it for you.
There’s no age limit on bad relationships, but if you’re over 50, it’s time to put the word “frenemy” out to pasture. At this age, people simply are your friends or they’re not.
“I can’t believe you did that.”
The world is an ever-changing place, and what might have been seen as outlandish behavior when you were a kid is commonplace today. So, if you don’t want to seem unbearably old-fashioned, leave the shock over other people’s behavior behind.
“I’m such an idiot.”
You’ve got five decades or more behind you—it’s time to show some confidence! There’s never a good time for that kind of negative talk, but if you’re a full-fledged adult, it’s definitely time to stop putting yourself down. You’re allowed to not know things, and that doesn’t make you dumb.
“Spot me some cash.”
If you’re over 50, it’s high time you started living within your means. If you need to keep borrowing money from friends or family members, it’s time to start being more judicious with your spending. And for tips on that front, learn the 52 Ways to Be Smarter with Money in 2018.
“I’ll never be able to learn that.”
There’s plenty to be learned about both yourself and the world when you’re over 50. Saying that you’ll never be able to learn something makes you sound like you’re not willing to expand your horizons—never an attractive trait.
“Let’s be bad and order dessert.”
While indulging in a huge piece of chocolate cake at the end of every meal probably won’t do much to help you squeeze into your skinny jeans, you don’t need to make excuses for eating food by the time you’re 50. You’ve lived for half a century; it’s time to stop moralizing cake.
“You’re too sensitive.”
You don’t get to decide how someone else feels about a particular situation. When this is lobbed at younger people who, for instance, are bemoaning their boss who berates them in front of their coworkers or their inability to pay bills while working full time, it makes you seem like a jerk. Who thinks insensitivity is such a great trait, anyway?
“You should really…”
Nobody wants your unsolicited advice. Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you’re necessarily wiser, and you probably shouldn’t use this phrase if you want to keep friends.
“I just tell it like it is.”
If someone asks for your complete honesty about something, feel free to give it to them. However, giving your unbiased opinion on things that nobody has asked about is nothing short of rude. And if you’re over 50, you’ve definitely been around the block enough times to know better.
You’re a grown-up, not a high schooler. You should be able to say the word “sex” without blushing.
“I turned out fine.”
Just because your parents spanked you, or you were exposed to lead paint, or you broke half the bones in your body climbing on unsafe playground equipment as a kid and are still alive today, well, that doesn’t mean those things are a good idea for other people.
“I don’t understand kids these days.”
Nobody’s really asking you to, though. There will always be cultural differences between you and younger generations, and it’s not really your place to judge. Everything you did as a teenager or young adult baffled older people, too.
“I’m grateful I didn’t grow up with all this technology.”
Just because you don’t know how to use every piece of technology that crosses your path doesn’t mean technology is a bad thing. In fact, it’s pretty amazing that we have virtually infinite knowledge at our fingertips (or that, say, robotic surgery is now a thing). For more on the tech you may or may not use every day, learn the 20 Types of Artificial Intelligence You Use Every Single Day And Don’t Know It.
“Isn’t that cute?”
“Cute” is hardly an apt descriptor for most things and can sound patronizing. If something’s beautiful, say that. If something makes you proud, say that.
It’s not like turning 50 means the end of your dating life, by any means. However, it does mean that you’d be well-advised to start using the less gross-out-inducing “handsome” or “beautiful” to describe the object of your affection.
Which people are you talking about, exactly? No matter who you’re referring to, this comes across as offensive, if not racist.
If something surprises you, a “seriously?” will suffice. There’s no need to make your language sound so cutesy—or outdated.
“I wish I had your confidence.”
Who says that the 50-plus set should be devoid of confidence? Stop making excuses for why you lack confidence and start figuring out ways to improve your own. For starters, banish the 15 Daily Habits That Are Killing Your Confidence.
“You should really listen to me.”
Phrases like this don’t make you sound like a boss, they just make you sound bossy. Just because you think you have all the answers doesn’t mean your advice is applicable to everyone you meet.
“I can’t even.”
You’re a grown-up. If there’s something you’re having a hard time with, there’s an easy way to express that without sounding like an extra on a Disney show.
You may be feeling your age if you’re 50-plus, but you’re not so short on time that saying “ridiculous” will waste it.
“Kids are so lazy these days.”
The world has evolved since you were younger, and technology has expedited countless once-monotonous and time-consuming tasks. That doesn’t mean kids are lazy because they look something up online instead of in a dictionary—it means they’re resourceful.
“Discussing politics is so rude.”
The political is personal, especially these days. Just because you don’t feel like contributing your opinion to a political conversation doesn’t mean it’s your place to shut it down.
“I’m just an old lady.”
You may be older, but your age doesn’t define you. Think of all the things you’ve done in your life—you’re so much more than just your age.
“And when will you make me a grandma?”
Just because you had kids doesn’t mean it’s your children’s responsibility to do the same. Considering that about 10 percent of women have trouble conceiving, this is a more loaded question than you might have imagined. “Placing undue obligations or time tables on our children or grandchildren is simply rude no matter whom you are referring to,” says Thomas. “Just don’t say it.”
You’re not in a music video and it’s not 2003. If you’re feeling a buzz, “tipsy” better describes it.
“I’m so hungover.”
Unless you had your first drink on your 50th birthday, there’s no real excuse for not knowing your limits. “It’s not becoming of anyone at any age,” says Thomas. “If you are ill from drinking too much, keep it to yourself!”
There’s no real reason to discuss your digestive tract in polite company. Feeling under the weather? Say that instead of mentioning your indigestion over dinner.
“Is it hot in here or is it just my hot flashes?”
What is the intended reaction to phrases like this, anyway? If you’re lucky, you’ll get a cringe, at best.
“I’m not racist, but…”
If you start a sentence with these words, just know that anything that comes after them is, without a doubt, racist.
“Age is just a number.”
While you certainly don’t have to start viewing yourself as an old person when you hit 50, this phrase is often used to justify some seriously egregious behavior. Age may be just a number to you, but it’s still pretty creepy when you talk about how hot Shawn Mendes (born: 1998) looks.
“Not in this lifetime.”
Sure, you probably won’t be skydiving at 100. That said, there’s a whole lot of time between your 50th birthday and the end of the line. You’ve got plenty of time to do the things you set out to do.
“Follow in my footsteps.”
Just because your life turned out well doesn’t mean your way is the only way. Let your kids, grandkids, or younger friends figure out what works best for them instead of trying to get them to live like you did.
“You’ll be old too, someday.”
Is this a surprise to anyone? Yes, if people are lucky, they’ll eventually get to your age, but that doesn’t mean you have to make them feel bad about being young right now.
Have the past few years collectively been a dumpster fire? Yes. Is this phrase also woefully over used? Also yes.
“Youth is wasted on the young.”
You may appreciate your youth now that you’re older, but as they say, hindsight is 20/20. The only reason you know how good you had it back then is because you lived through it. And odds are you’re looking back through rose-colored glasses, anyway. “This is a rather sneaky and rude way to put our youth down,” says Thomas, who advises against using this phrase in any conversation. And for more ways to improve your conversation skills, learn how to Dazzle Any Gathering with These Savvy Small-Talk Tips.
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