The Most Annoying Sayings, At the End of the Day (Add Yours to this Epic List)

So here goes: I personally despise, at the end of the day, when people drop the ball, because, at this moment in time, it is what it is. Just sayin.

In that paragraph above I include what I and countless others find to be among the most annoying sayings shared by the English-speaking world and uttered by all of us at some point, though rarely in one sentence (thankfully).  It’s easy to use these phrases because they allow us to bridge our thoughts or label our feelings with familiar phrases. But let’s face it: it does not make us better communicators.  It’s okay to utter: “It is what it is” when the waitress brings over a Merlot instead of Malbec or you didn’t go to the gym today because you “personally despise” the treadmill. But it is not acceptable as communicators to fall back on mundane and grammatically inaccurate phrases in a profession where language speaks volumes and can be the difference between scoring an account and losing it, between garnering respect and squandering it, between capturing an audience’s attention or putting them to sleep.

How many times have you heard an executive say “At the end of the day, we are going to….” Or, “I personally feel that this is the way forward.”  You can’t “impersonally feel” something unless you’re clinically insane. And, “at the end of the day” really means: I don’t know how to start this sentence but what I want to say is…

Am I being nit-picky? Perhaps, if I weren’t writing this to an audience of communicators. But we are judged not only by our actions but by what we say and how we say it, what we write and the flair with which we write it.

To this list of phrases better left unused, I submit a few more that will get you nowhere fast. Please add yours to this list so at the end of the day (literally, today!) we have more words to ban from the workday:

* From an agency exec to a client: “Of course, we can do all of that!” (sounds fishy, I don’t believe you; be specific on what you can do and what you might not be able to do. )

* From a client to an agency rep: “I need a dashboard” (can you be more specific? Everyone’s asking for a dashboard and there are Mercedes dashboards and Pinto dashboards – which do you want?)

* From an employee to her employer: “Where is my career going here?” (you should know, bring a plan to get there; don’t let your employer tell you who you should be)

* From a boss to his employee: “You need to be more passionate.” (you can’t make people feel passionate)

* From one PR person to another:  “We need to own social media.” (Um, the public owns social media. What you really mean is you need to tie your social media efforts to a bottom line, be it financial, social good, reputation. That’s #winning)

* From a CEO to his PR team: “Get us some good press.” And the PR exec’s response: “Consider it done.”

The latter phrase sounds straight out of a movie script (perhaps a documentary).  In the real world, we know “get us some good press” is a loaded request and “consider it done” is dripping with confidence and enthusiasm.  But more meaningful conversations without niceties and catch-phrases will elevate the PR profession and set more realistic expectations for your organization. Just sayin.

(Please add to the list.)

–          Diane Schwartz  

On twitter: @dianeschwartz

  • Tim Allik

    The word “social” as a noun, as in, “Acme does social really well.” Hate it. Being social means having friends, not selling product.

    “I’m passionate about _________.” Really? Well lucky you. Guess what? I work for a living!

    “I’m a ____________ junkie.” Since when is addiction a virtue?

  • Debra Bethard-Caplick

    I’m already fed up with “curation” and “news-jacking” – Please. Stop. Now.

  • Jeff Stevens

    “(Whatever they’re about to do, usually eating), Yes, please”


  • Bill Salvin

    Using the word “so” to start a post or a sentence. It is a useless word and can be eliminated. The reason I don’t like it is that the person using it is not, typically, a 14-year old teenage girl and I’m not joining the conversation in progress. It is becoming epidemic in corporations. You even started your post with “So here goes.” Why not just “Here goes…”

  • Carlos Perez

    A couple that bother me:

    – “I’m just doing what I’m doing.” – Redundancy will be the death of me.

    – “What can I do you for?” – You mean ‘What can I do for you?’ and by asking it that way, my answer is: “Nothing, thank you.”

    – When young people say “Well in the old days…” Really? You’ve been around for 20-something years. The “old days” for you consisted of an era before social networking boomed and boy bands were the hot topic.

    – Self-proclaimed ‘guru’ — “Social Media Guru”… really?

  • Liz

    “Hit the ground running” was the first one I thought of and I know I could think of more if I sat here for an hour, lol.

  • Vanessa Yanez

    Hi Diane- thanks for getting this article ‘on our radar’. It’s posted to the PRSA Silicon Valley chapter’s Facebook page.

  • Joel

    “Going forward” meaning “from now on” as if you could also dictate past behavior

    “No offense” which means “I am about to offend you.”

    “I’m confused” which means “You’re confused and I am going to set you straight.”


    “Circle back” which means to bring your Connestoga wagon back into a circle

    “Thought leadership”


  • Anne Streeter

    I’m guilty of recently using the phrase “True that.” Thankfully, I stopped using “you go, girl” one of my other favorites, a long time ago. So easy to pick up these cutesy phrases in their infancy and before you know it, you are sick of them!

  • Mark Weiner

    To pick-up on Joel’s point about “no offense,” another version of this is “with all due respect…”

    Hearing that phrase, buckle-up: the words that follow will certainly bear no relation to “respect” or any recognized synonym.

  • Kim O’Leary

    “At any rate” irritates me because it is so seldom used in connection with a literal rate of any sort.

  • Brad Haarer

    “Game on.”

    And while I’m at it. . .and may have a sympathetic audience. . .

    You don’t have sweet and unsweetened tea. You have tea and you have sweetened tea. Tea is not sweet, you add sweetness to it, you don’t take it away.

    “Whatever of the century (storm, trial). . it’s 2012 you can’t know that yet.

    Whatever-gate. Just stop it.

    I’ll think of more I’m sure. . .

  • Veronica Castillon

    “To make a long story short” already makes your story six words longer. The other one that bothers me is “irregardless.”

  • Ken Hunter

    Here goes:

    Meh (Thank you for your in-depth contribution to the conversation that really helps us solve the problem. Now, please, get back to your texting.)

    I don’t hate that idea (Otherwise known as “let’s think about that more.”)

    We want to be in high-profile media (…said everyone on earth that wants to be in ANY media.)

    How should we spin this? (Cringe! Maybe using messages such as “But, they lived long lives”?)

  • Melinda Phillips

    I am 27 years old, so am not claiming to be old by any means, but I heard a younger girl say, “I’m old school; I like to use my computer instead of an iPad.”

    I was thinking the whole time, “Old school would be a chisel and stone or at the very least, pencil and paper.”

    “Old school” used in any form somewhat annoys me.

  • Amanda P

    “We need to be strategic” — “strategy” and “strategic” are so overused; no one explains what they mean by this, what the plan of action is or the tactics we’ll use to achieve the goal. “Hey, guess what, everyone? Rather than do stupid, random stuff, we’re going to be ‘strategic'”.

  • Marie

    “Let’s take a step back” is one I’ve frequently heard in organizations. Too me, it’s an early indicator that you are dealing with a conservative organization where innovation is outside their comfort zone. Or you’re working in government.

  • Dan Regan

    Here are a few more:

    I also hate the phrase “thought leadership.” Not sure what that even means.

    “Let’s not re-invent the wheel…”

    “Value proposition”

    “Let’s get out in front of it…”

    “Where the rubber meets the road…”

    Take your pick of sports analogies and phrases — gametime, getting your gameface on, quarterbacking the project, that idea is a home run, it’s bottom of the ninth, we’re at the two minute warning, etc.

    I’d also like folks to get a dictionary and look up the word “strategy.” There’s a big difference between a timeline and a strategy.

  • Vicki Stearn

    I agree with most of what has been said. But I find myself using these words and phrases ostensibly to “relate to” the people I’m talking with. Some people seem to be confused when you use standard English. And, some times expressions I hate just come out of my mouth like “like” and “personally, I”. The latter is an extended form of self-deprecation: I don’t want you disagree with you, but this is my opinion for me, not necessarily for you or the rest of the world. Personally, I think it’s hard to avoid some this 21st century lingo.

  • Don Pazour

    I second the cringe for irregardless and even more of a cringe for “anyways” — written or spoken!

  • Meg Charendoff

    Frankly …
    Honestly …
    With all due respect …
    Don’t take this the wrong way/personally …

    all of these “starters” put people on guard forthings they don’t want to hear.

    Also words like: incentivize and ideate.

  • Darrell

    Someone else has already mentioned it, but “circle back” is highly annoying. How about using “get back to me later” instead.

  • truthseeker

    “out of the box thinking”
    “run to ground”
    “if you will”


  • Andrew

    “Balls to the walls.” What does this really mean? Maybe I don’t want to know.

  • Julie

    Here are a few that bug me that I don’t have been mentioned:
    – open the kimono (creepy)
    – drink the Kool-Aid
    – move the needle
    – let’s talk offline
    – boil the ocean
    – awesome

  • Kathy

    Ramp up. Tee up. Synch up. (Throw up)
    Push back.
    Thought starter.
    Run it up the flagpole and see how it flies.

  • Rachelle

    Skin in the game


  • Andrea G.

    I’ve got a lot of balls in the air right now (because in my role I wear many hats), so before we hit the ground running, lets touch base to flesh this out so we can get the ball rolling and really move the needle at the end of the day.

  • Jen Lombardi | Cleveland Graphic Design & Marketing

    Do I have to pick just one? ‘Cause I wrote a blog post about the 20 corporate buzzwords I promise to NEVER use! Ping, bandwidth, hard stop…the list goes on and on!

  • Amy M.

    “Let’s flesh/flush this out.” I’ve heard it both ways, and both make me cringe.

  • Amy C.

    So many good examples of bad lingo already expressed! A few more:

    “thought-partner” (is there really room for two in there?)
    “Perfect!” (used in response to a question answered, such as “Would you like to see the wine list?”)
    “Let’s take this offline” (sounds like an appointment to get beat up in the schoolyard after the principal leaves)
    “We have a horse in this race” (less painful than one’s own skin the game, but same principle)
    “Under the radar” (I understand the need for stealth at times, but it can cause mid-air collision?)

    I’m sure there are more annoying such phrases, but I probably use them so frequently as to be oblivious 😉

  • David Murphy

    “We will be ramping up soon so be ready!”

    Or, “we gotta pick the low hanging fruit”

  • truthseeker

    Thought of some more:

    Kill two birds with one stone (poor birds)




  • Buttholeface


    “created an expectation”

    “boil the ocean:”

    “herding cats”

  • Lungo Kalenga

    And do we need to “pull up our socks”? They are made to a specific size. We risk tearing/stretching them or pulling our sick if are not wearing them on a day we are aksed to pull them up.

  • Lungo Kalenga

    *skin in place of sick…

  • Lungo Kalenga

    and *asked in place of aksed. Pardon my run away typos :-)

  • Caddie

    This article fails to make its point. The author starts out criticizing over-used colloquialisms being tossed around in communications fields, where words are everything. It’s a valid point to make, to anyone, not just communicators. Words matter. Phrases like “in terms of” “at the end of the day”
    “in the long run” and so on water down meaning in otherwise useful sentences. If unavoidable in speaking, they should never, every be allowed to creep into writing.
    But the author fails to get that far. He (she?) instead gets side tracked making a snarky list, which appears to be completely unrelated to his or her original point. The sayings listed are not mundane speech pit-falls as discussed above, but rather random quotes the author decided to target.
    As a journalist, I can tell you what the press really appreciates — PR reps who manage to stay on topic.

  • LisaLaura

    I actually like the phrase “herding cats”. I use it when I’m referring to the group of people who say things like “circle back” “touch base” “loop keeping” and “let’s meet one-on-one”. The last one I find particularly offensive.

  • Claudia

    Give 110% – what is wrong with your math?

  • Heather




    … and when did “touch base” (meaning to follow up or check in) become “touching bases” which implies there are actual, physical bases to touch …or is this just another baseball metaphor? :)

  • Monica Carazo

    “Take it off your list. I’m on it.”

  • Adam Solar

    Whenever anyone says “At the end of the day…” I like to say “it’s night!”

    Always worth it to see the look on their faces.

  • Evelyn

    “That blew me away.” Really? You haven’t seen enough reality TV that you can be blown away by anything slightly above mediocre you see?

  • Joan Stewart, The Publicity Hound

    My bad.

    Thinking outside the box.

    Thought leaders.

  • Brad Fisher

    “Balls to the wall” is actually a WWII era avaiation term. It means pushing the throttle (which is topped by a round grip that fits in the palm) all the way forward (wide open) or toward the firewall (assuming the engine is in front of the cockpit). So it means going full trottle. In context, it would be contraindicated to put one’s gonads into a wall if you wanted to get anything done.

  • Jeff McCloud

    I heard in a meeting earlier this year, related to something that wouldn’t work financially, “It won’t pencil out.”

    Say what?

    I despise “at the end of the day.” One other phrase I hear frequently is “in the weeds,” as in, “Let’s take a 30,000-foot-view because right now we’re in the weeds.”

  • Dana

    I also hate “in the weeds.” Another one that drives me CRAZY (no pun intended) is hearing someone say a responsibility is in someone else’s “lane,” e.g. “I’m not the dishwasher here. That’s in Joe’s lane.” Stop it! Lol!

  • Mary Ellen Heelan

    Do we really think any woman needs to be told: “put on your big girl panties”? I also think way too many trains have left the station and never mind how many people have been thrown under the bus.

  • Fred L. Sabine

    I would say we’ve all come up with a comprehensive list, wouldn’t you?