21/10/2015 19:26 BST | Updated 20/10/2016 06:12 BST

Let's Get Rid of These Irritating Expressions


The English language is rich in wonderful idioms, expressions and vocabulary. However, in recent times there have been some unwelcome intruders, masquerading as meaningful expressions. They have crept into our everyday conversation and have got rather too settled. They are over-used, largely meaningless and highly irritating. It's time we stood up, banished these banal expressions and reclaimed our language. Here are a few of my "favourite" examples:

"I'm on it" - on what exactly? "On" is a preposition of place which suggests that you are physically "on" whatever "it" is. Even more alarming perhaps is "I'm all over that" which sounds more painful (and also rather claustrophobic for "that") than just being "on it".

"Let's touch base" - in my opinion (notice I did not say "in my humble opinion" which could easily qualify for this list) there is no reason whatsoever to use this phrase unless you are playing baseball or rounders.

"Bear with me" - nothing makes me want to "bear with" someone less than this particular phrase. In fact, it can make me feel a little irrationally violent. This expression is part of call-centre vernacular and usually precedes a long period of being "on hold" listening to a panpipes version of Greensleeves or the like before being cut off.

"Believe you me" - incomprehensible caveman speak somewhat in the style of "Me Tarzan, you Jane" - which I can only assume originated as a translation of a phrase in another language in which word order does not adhere to the same rules as English.

"With all due respect" - an overused expression which usually heralds quite the opposite and is used to soften the inevitable insult that follows. Don't insult my intelligence - I am perfectly able to spot your not very cunningly disguised criticism and quite aware that absolutely no respect was intended.

"Fairly unique" - just plain wrong - either something is "unique" or it is not; to state the obvious - there are no degrees of uniqueness.

"#" or "hashtag" - why does everything anyone ever says or writes have to be followed by #stringofwordsthatyouthinkmakeyoulookcleverandwitty. How I wish we could go back to the days when the hashtag languished little used on the top row of a keyboard.

"I literally..." - this seems to be almost exclusively used when the sense is quite the opposite - "I literally died" - no, you didn't because if you did, then you would have actually died which you didn't because unfortunately you still seem to be here annoying me with your incorrect adverbial usage.

"I personally..." - tautological and nonsensical unless perhaps you are in the habit of adopting different personalities rather than just sticking to the one.

"At the end of the day" - what is so special about the evening? Why not say "in the middle of the morning"? This expression is particularly meaningless because of its lack of any time relevance. For example, someone says to you "at the end of the day, he is just an idiot". In my experience idiots are idiots all of the time - it is unfortunately a lifelong condition and not one that bizarrely only manifests at around 10pm each evening.

"Does that make sense?" - not only is this a rhetorical question but also an assumption that the listener is rather intellectually-challenged and unable to follow a simple dialogue. When faced with someone who peppers his/her conversation with this little gem, I feel an overwhelming urge to shout, "I AM NOT STUPID. I am perfectly capable of understanding what you are saying - does that make sense?"

"If I were you..." - well, you're not, so cut out the mild condescension which this phrase implies. As the saying goes, if I want your advice, I'll ask for it.

"Just sayin'" - firstly, "saying" has a "g" on the end and secondly, I've just had to listen to whatever it is that you are sayin' and so do not need to be reminded of this fact.

"To be fair" or "to be honest" - this has nothing to do with justice or honesty and frankly begs the question "Why? Are you not usually fair or honest?"

"It is what it is" - brilliant, so incisive. A useless observation which offers no comfort whatsoever to the person to whom it is directed. A true conversation filler which serves no purpose except perhaps to make the speaker feel as if they have made some great philosophical statement.

"Methinks" - Are you Shakespeare? No, I didn't think so.