By Kevin Murphy
(Reuters) – Hands down, no word grates on Americans more than “whatever,” a public opinion survey says.
The casual “whatever” was rated the most annoying word by 38 percent of 1,173 adults surveyed in early December by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, based in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. That is up from 32 percent a year earlier, pollsters said. What’s more, “whatever” has topped the annoying word charts for five straight years.
“The word can be very dismissive and rude,” said Mary Griffith, media director for Marist. “It’s a put-down to some extent and it can signal to the other person that what they are saying is not important.”
With apologies to Facebook, Americans also do not like the word “like,” which ranked second in the survey of most annoying words, at 22 percent. The term “you know” pulled 18 percent, “just sayin” 14 percent, and “obviously” 6 percent. Two percent of respondents were unsure.
Marist began polling on annoying words five years ago. The word choices are provided to the respondents based on Marist research and prior surveys, Griffith said. While most Marist surveys focus on politics, the poll on annoying words is enlightening, she said.
“We like to keep a finger on the pulse of popular culture,” Griffith said.
In the same survey, Marist pollsters wanted to know what political word or phrase Americans would like to see disappear in 2014. “Obamacare” was mentioned by 41 percent of respondents as a word they do not want to hear next year.
Americans are also averse to and would like to eliminate the Washington terms “shutdown” and “gridlock,” which got votes from 30 percent and 11 percent, respectively. “Fiscal cliff” got 10 percent of the vote and “sequestration” 4 percent. Four percent of respondents were unsure.
(Reporting By Kevin Murphy; editing by Gunna Dickson)