Buck the Trend: De-Catchphrase Yourself

The result of over-used catchphrases: she has keeled over out of boredom.

The result of over-used catchphrases: she has keeled over out of boredom.

Miles run today: 4.5

Tweets I have successfully tweeted: 4

Annoying, repetitive phrases I have spoken in my lifetime: 4,589,327

Freshman year of college was a heady time. I had a meal ticket to the college cafeteria, loads of free time and a raucous group of new friends.

We were enthusiastic, super-charged balls of frenetic energy. And we were now on our own in life.

Sort of.

Humor and shared language gained us footholds in the group, and because we were all certain we were the funniest, we borrowed catchphrases from wherever we could pilfer them.

One boy could not get over Monty Python. His conversation was positively littered with quotes from this or that scene, none of which I had watched or had any interest in watching. But I can quote them to this day, in case I run into any crazed Monty Python fans.

A cult classic from our high school years was The Princess Bride, and we knew all the good parts by heart. And had to remind each other that we did. Often.

But by far the worst offender of our freshman year was Saturday Night Live‘s “Not.”

The scene: The South Campus dorm cafeteria; the sub-par, red-headed stepchild of the university cafeterias.

The players: Eight obnoxious freshmen, one obsessed with Monty Python, one convinced Janis Joplin should still be alive, and one who could do a passable imitation of our lovable but stuffy English professor.

Quiet girl in group: Wow, this dorm food sure is amazing! It’s delicious in a way that hasn’t even been invented yet.

[Everyone looking at each other with disdain.]

All: NOT!!!!!

Loud boy: I can’t wait to get back to my room to study for Chemistry mid-terms.

All: NOT!!!!

Repeat scene each night for three months.

It became tiresome even to the participants, and we drifted away from each other out of sheer boredom.

Whether you are a traditionally social person or a person who is social via social media, catchphrases and inside jokes continue to gain us a kind of social currency.

My daughter has a new group of friends this year. One way I know that? Her catchphrase:

“I know, right?”

This catchphrase can be used in virtually any situation, which makes it both addictive and akin to nails on a chalkboard.

Scene: Dinner, candles on the table, Christmas tree flashing, Michael Buble singing about letting it snow while it’s 70 degrees outside.

Me: It’s crazy that it’s almost Christmas.

Her: I know, right?

My husband: I’m just glad I got the outside lights done.

Her: I know, right?

My son: I’m gonna go get seconds.

Her: I know, right?

Varied inflection mixes up the meaning, but we’re still left with a few eye rolls and a hope that some new catchphrase will take hold. Any. New. Catchphrase.

If you’re a Word Person like I am, and you talk to lots of people, like I do, you may find yourself picking up bad habits.

I am urging you to buck the trend. Go rogue. Avoid binders of women. Don’t even think of hash-tagging your own phrase in conversation.

And if you find yourself thinking, “I know, right?” Start singing “Call Me Maybe” to get it out of your head.

What is your favorite catchphrase? What do you wish you could stop saying?


38 thoughts on “Buck the Trend: De-Catchphrase Yourself

  1. too many to enumerate!!! Going rogue would render me speechless…”hand to God!”, “just sayin….”

  2. “Whatever!” Too many uses to name. I hate it. But, I use it too.

  3. Daryl says:

    “I just can’t be bovered (sic)”…to right a comment that is. Oh, and “init”, as in “nice weather init?”

  4. Too many options. Head going to explode!

  5. kathleen says:

    “Cool beans”

  6. Daryl says:

    “Word” – Did anyone really say that other than satirical TV comedians? Was it ever cool? – Maybe if you were Biggie Smalls or the like.

  7. Carrie Rubin says:

    I cannot tell a lie–I have been known to say “I know, right?” But I never say “You go girl!” so I think that wipes my slate clean.

    Just followed you on Twitter. Welcome to another social media time suck. 🙂

  8. jmmcdowell says:

    “It is what it is” drives me up the wall. I’ve been trying to stop saying, “You think?” But I haven’t been all that successful yet. And I would love to lose the likes that pepper all our speech these last 30 years or so!

    • annewoodman says:

      Oh, yes, the “You think?” I forgot about that one.

      If you figure out a way to stop saying “like” and let me in on your secret, I will love you forever. ; )

    • David Gentry says:

      Somehow, “it is what it is” really appeals to me and makes me calm. Why? I find it philosophically satisfying. And yes, it is very overused. But, whatever….

  9. Not a phrase, but I’m saying “actually” too much. As in, “Actually, I was planning to go to the store.” Nasty habit. Arghhh…

    • annewoodman says:

      I’ve definitely gotten hooked on actually from time to time.

      But it’s much better than “honestly…” or “To tell you the truth…” which really bug me. So you weren’t telling me the truth before??

  10. I have a sincere loathing for “Guess what.”

    Just say it!

    I, too, adored The Princess Bride. To this day, however, I have a pathological fear of being unemployed in Greenland.

  11. Melissa says:

    Daryl’s fav “just saying” has been known to pass these lips as well as “yeah, about that.” It’s funny because I use these mostly around one group of friends. Obviously, some of us don’t out grow old habits…not! 😉

    • annewoodman says:

      Ha! I can picture you saying, “Yeah, about that!” I do think that our friends keep us addicted to certain phrases; we tend to unconsciously mimic those closest to us. I’m sure if I moved to England, I’d be sounding like Madonna in two seconds flat.

  12. I loathe, “I love ____ to death.” Yuck. To death?
    I mean, right?

  13. 4amWriter says:

    I have yet to obliterate ‘like’ from my speech. I have a friend who ends every sentence with ‘you know what I mean?’ even when there is absolutely no confusion to begin with. Maybe I should reply just once, ‘I have no clue.’ But then I’d be responding to a catchphrase with a catchphrase. It’s a horror show out there, Anne.

    • annewoodman says:

      I’m not sure any of us can completely eliminate “like.” I listened to a webinar yesterday, and I was so impressed with the 26-year-old giving it… she didn’t use “like” even once. And “um”? Only twice. It was amazing.

      So, I guess it might be a teeny impossibility to eliminate all catchphrases… but something good to strive for, anyway!

  14. My wife and I use ‘whatever’ on one another like verbal whips. Feigning righteous indignation is the conditioned response. As you indicated, the repetitiveness is tiresome.

  15. At the moment I keep hearing ‘yeah no’ everywhere I go.

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