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Misused language makes steam shoot out of my ears, literally!



Oxford compiles 
list of top ten 
irritating phrases
By Charlotte Bailey


Heading the 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 Radio 4 presenter 
John Humphreys has described as 
“the linguistic equivalent of 
having chips with rice.”

Also making the top ten is 
the grammatically incorrect 
“shouldn’t of”, 
instead of 
“shouldn’t have”.

The phrases appear in a book 
called Damp Squid, 
named after the mistake of confusing 
a squid with a squib, 
a type of firework.

The researchers who compiled 
the list monitor the use of phrases 
in a database called the Oxford 
University Corpus, 
which comprises books, papers, 
magazines, broadcast, 
the internet and other sources.

The database alerts them to new words 
and phrases and can tell them which 
expressions are disappearing. 
It also shows how words are being misused.

As well as the above expressions, 
the book’s author Jeremy Butterfield 
says that many annoyingly over-used 
expressions actually began as office lingo, 
such as 24/7 and “synergy”.

Other phrases to irritate people are 
“literally” and “ironically”
when they are used out of context.

Mr Butterfield said: 
“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.”






4 Responses to “Misused language makes steam shoot out of my ears, literally!”

  1. I don’t like hackneyed phrases, neither in English nor in any other language. This book will also be very interesting for foreigners (I am German).
    Unfortunately we often talk a lot of rubbish without thinking.

  2. None of those cause me to cringe as much as “for free”. Aaaaargh! It angers me to see this expression becoming so widespread that it is now considered accepted usage.

  3. You’re an ass, Giff. I’ll give you that one for free.

  4. I would like to submit the one I hear more often than I can stand: “having said that…”

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