‘It Is What It Is’: More Annoying Phrases to Avoid


A few weeks ago PR News' SVP and group publisher Diane Schwartz listed some of the most annoying sayings and phrases that are over-employed by many communicators. This "epic list" was itself a follow-up to an earlier blog post that asked readers to offer their own suggestions.

And the suggestions just keep coming from PR News readers. Here's the latest batch:

  • "Looping in"

  • "Let's agree to disagree"

  • "A place at the table"

  • "Bang for the buck"

  • "Fast-forward to..."

  • "Reach out to"

  • "We'll address it later"

  • "Double-down”

  • "I know, right?"

  • "You know what I mean?"

  • "We're killing it"

  • "I’m going to bat for you"

  • Anything with “literally” or "virtually" in it

  • "Without further ado"

  • "Epic fail"

  • "Because of uncertain conditions"

  • "Out of pocket"

  • "Quite frankly"

  • "I couldn't care less"

  • "Untimely death"      

Keep ’em coming.

Follow Jamar Hudson: @jamarhudson 

123 responses to “‘It Is What It Is’: More Annoying Phrases to Avoid

  1. “Socialize” used to mean give exposure to and gain consensus around ideas or work product

  2. Any written phrase that tries too create a dramatic effect with a period After. Every. Word.

  3. At least “I couldn’t care less” is the correct phrase. What is even more annoying is hearing “I could care less.” Do those people that means they do care, at least a little?

  4. I’d like to comment but I have a hard stop at 4:54 so I can jump onto another call; let’s circle back

  5. I love “untimely death.” When is death ever timely? Add “past history.” Is that different from “future history?”

  6. THANK YOU. I have been trying to abolish “it is what it is” from everyone’s vocabulary around me. I cringe every time I hear it.
    I’d also like to include “Amazeballs” and “Irregardless”

  7. CEO-speak and jargon learned in business school: “Hmmm, I don’t like the optics on this…”

  8. “There ya go.” – As in, you’re in a group and just said something very funny and that one dolt says “there ya go”, which is of course code for “You just said something very funny and, while I have nothing clever to say in return, I do want to say SOMETHING.”

  9. “That’s in my/his/her wheelhouse” – please make this stop. You are either qualified or not.

  10. Wow. You’ve managed to encompass 80% a typical business conversation.

  11. basically, actually…get to the point. filler words are as bad as mayo!

  12. “We’re excited about our product launch.” That sounds like you’re going to Disneyland. Quote the CEO about the product, not about his stupid feelings.

  13. “Let’s unpack this.” Also, “with all that being said”

  14. If people at my company didn’t use these phrases, I’m not sure there would be any verbal or written communication at all.

  15. Wow… Or how about instead of making a completely repetitive and irrelevant list like this, we all just collectively remove the stick from our asses and get back to work.

  16. “At that (or this) particular point in time…” How about: “then” or “now”

  17. My boss actually says “redonkulous” — instead of ridiculous. Drives me insane, not to mention it is horribly unprofessional.

  18. “At the end of the day”, “The bottom line”, “Tipping point”, “Getting granular”, “(So and so is) Running point (on something)”, “Content is king”

  19. Pivot…everything these days is a pivot. And and let’s use “fulsome” correctly. Fulsome is not praise; it means “excessive.”

  20. “Pre-sell” – meaning you’ve got to get your internal champion to endorse an idea or proposal before it gets presented to a his/her boss or colleagues.

  21. “Those ones”. My highSchool English teacher would be “rolling over in her grave” . Can dead people do that? But back to These ones and Those ones. …

  22. We need to make sure they have “Skin in the game”. I also hate it when people use allot meaning many and not the actual meaning allocate.

  23. Not for nothin’ but . . .

    Not so much . . .

    and last but not least: I’m nauseous instead of I am nauseated.

  24. I want to agree with comment No. 39. If you eliminate everyone who uses at least one of these phrases, you eliminate 99%+ of the populace.

  25. “Could care less” – It’s actually “Could NOT care less”… Think about it!

  26. particularly by football announcers: “trickeration” instead of a trick play

  27. Innernet. I guess it’s the inner part of the net? Could be applied to “international”, too, among millions of others…

  28. “Quite candidly…” Which is meant to be taken as “I’m about to blow some smoke up your butt about a topic I can’t be honest with you about but need to say something about.

  29. “Think outside the box” is the most unoriginal in-the-box phrase of them all.

  30. “We don’t know what we don’t know…” is one that grates me. Older ones that I still hear a lot are “cross-functionality” and “synergy.” 1996 called – they want their business cliches back!!!

  31. 1. “So” at the beginning of every sentence
    2. “kind of” or “sort of” to buy time

  32. “Efforting” (It’s NOT a verb, no matter how often you try to make it one!

  33. “What’s not to love”. The English, actually. Try “what’s not lovable”

  34. While many of these phrases I agree with being ridiculous, “It is what it is” is actually quite useful if you understand it’s deeper meaning. It is simply a variation on the Law of Identify, first recorded by Plato, also known in logic classes as “A is A”. So be careful poo-pooing this one.

  35. I’m curious why people object to “Let’s table that” and “We’ll address it later.” Neither of these strikes me as a cliche or overused expression. What am I missing?

  36. From bad news anchors: “totally devastated” (it is or it isn’t devastated). And DC think: “in that space”

  37. I can’t stand “fricking”, “whatever” and “synergy”.

  38. “We’re thrilled to announce…” This overheated phrase is overused.

  39. “In and of itself…” could be dropped from any sentence without changing the meaning. “At the end of the day” it’s nothing more than a vocalized pause.

  40. “You know what I’m saying?” after ever sentence is really annoying because it infers I’m having difficulty understanding the English language, when, in fact, it’s the person speaking having a problem expressing themselves.

    1. So true, actually! Same goes for “You know what I mean!” I thought I was the only one who thought that way!

  41. “mobilize” almost as bad as “incentivize” (but i haven’t heard that lately).

  42. I can’ t believe no one has said “going forward” or “on a go-forward basis”

    Also “flushing out” an idea when they mean to say “fleshing out”

  43. “To be honest with you” implies everything else you’ve said is a lie

  44. …ellipses… …are… …over…used… …universally………

    “Boil the ocean” – as in, “Hey – we need a short term fix here. We’re not trying to boil the ocean…”

    “Circle the wagons” – “Great idea! Pull in your players and we can circle the wagons on that one on Monday”

    And the most over-used of them all: “LEVERAGE” – i.e., “If we get the brightest lights aligned on this, I’m sure we can leverage our combined synergies to deliver an impactful message.”

  45. “spot on”. Why is it that business-jargon is never really their own…like “bandwidth” , “deep-dive”, dashboard – stolen from physics, scuba and the auto industry, respectively.

  46. 1. I don’t know what I don’t know.
    2. “Buttoned up” or “nailed down”; i.e., “We need to have everything buttoned up/nailed down by …”
    3. Let’s noodle on this.

  47. Iam amazed that “the new normal” and “It’s all good,” haven’t been mentioned.

  48. How did “No worries” and/or “Throw him/her under the bus” not make it on this list!! Worst sayings ever!

  49. haha I think the biggest saying I hear all the time is “whatever”

  50. “The view from 50,000 feet” has always made me wonder where the speaker really is.

  51. How about “the reason is because,” “the reason why,” and “the reason why is because?” Reason, because and why all have the same definition, making such sentences redundancies. Sadly a majority of the population uses this!

  52. “Really?” “Seriously?” “Don’t go there” “Been there, done that” “In the zone” “Man up” “Step up””At the end of the day” “Just sayin” “Throw under the bus” “Game on” “Go big or go home” All these phrases should be punishable by castration

  53. “It is what it is”. If ever there were a reason for justifiable homicide.

  54. Moving forward at the end of the day, I dislike how politicians use catchphrases to avoid answering even the most simple questions.

  55. Other ignorant phrases and misuses: “going forward,” “lay” instead of “lie” to indicate reclining, “the both of us” instead of the correct either “both of us” or “the two of us,” and “snuck” instead of “sneaked.”

  56. “This, that and the other/the 3rd.” [I’m surprised no-one has said this.]
    “It is what it is.”
    “So to speak.”
    “Believe you me.”
    “I won’t be a minute”, “Give me a second/two seconds.”
    “Neither here nor there.”
    “For the life of me.” [“I can’t remember that song for the life of me.” Sounds really dramatic.]
    “More fool me/you.”

  57. Along with phrases, I’m going to include a few horrid singular words in here too:

    “Begs the question”
    “Let’s touch base”
    “Be proactive”
    “Fake News”
    “Strong, independent woman” (a good thing, but a horribly dated and robotic phrase that was overused to death by 1994)
    “Just sayin'”
    “My bad”
    “I, personally”
    ____ has “dropped” a new recording
    “Disrupting the market”, “market disruptor”

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