My Least Favorite Word: Whatever

Least favorite word, whateverDear “Whatever,”

I am so over you.

Other wise people whom I respect (including Motherless Daughters author Hope Edelman, in an interview on The Happiness Project author Gretchen Rubin’s blog) take issue with your cousin “It is what it is,” which I agree is overused. But you, “whatever,” you annoy me through and through—even my mitochondria get irked when I hear you invoked.

And I’m not the only one who feels this way: a Marist College poll has found that Americans rank “whatever” the single most annoying phrase for several years running.

I think that people say “whatever” thinking it makes them sound breezy and easy-going. But what I hear when someone says it is: I can’t be bothered to engage with you, don’t have the energy to think for myself, or really really need to talk about this particular topic but I’m too scared.

“Whatever” is the antithesis of mindfulness. It signifies shutting down and tuning out.

(It’s also the source of many entertaining definitions on Urban Dictionary.)

I invite, no, challenge, anyone who has let this gremlin of a word worm its way in to your vocabulary to start noticing how much and in what types of situations you use it. I’m guessing that you’ll find it helps you pinpoint situations where you could stand to shine the light of awareness on how you’re really feeling. Maybe you always say whatever when you’re deciding to eat something crappy, or when your boyfriend asks you what you feel like doing that night, or when you’re talking about anything remotely emotionally troubling.

Let “whatever” be a clue that you need to take a deep breath and look a little deeper inside yourself and see what you truly need in that exact moment. I’m willing to wager it’s not actually “whatever.”

What’s your least favorite phrase?
What do you wish you could banish from the English language, and why? Leave a comment, and if I publish your thoughts in the next Vegimental I’ll send you a copy of What We Say Matters by Ike and Judith Lassater.

One more meditation Q&A
MsMindbody member Be wrote in with a question:

“Can you meditate more than once a day? Can you find two minutes here, two minutes there, and just do it? Or does it have to be just once, whatever length of time you have? It’s very hard for me to find time to do it and I really want to meditate. I NEED to disconnect and just be with myself, so, can I do it that way?”

Dear Be,
There are no dumb questions! You can totally meditate more than once a day. Some meditation is always better than none, and more is always better than a little. So if you find that a couple minutes here and a couple minutes there are working for you, go with it!

Don’t totally write off longer sessions though–I find that it often takes 5 or 10 minutes for me to settle down and really get into a zone where I don’t feel like I’m getting distracted every two seconds. Perhaps you can let your shorter sessions inspire you that yes, you actually are able to sit for longer periods of time. Good luck and happy travels!

Take care and keep breathing,


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8 thoughts on “My Least Favorite Word: Whatever

  1. I am most annoyed when I say “I’m sorry,” and the person responds “No problem.” If there were not a problem, I wouldn’t say I’m sorry. People should respond more personally. It’s just a response that actually means nothing. We all need to listen when people speak and not just respond automatically.

  2. Least favorite word/phrase: “Really?”–using the sarcastic and exasperated tone that has recently come into vogue for this word.

    “Dude!” (Winner from 2009)
    “My bad.” (Winner from 2006)
    “Oh no you di-in’t.” (Winner from 2004)
    “Foxy Lady.” (Winner from 1979, Lifetime Achievement Award winner)

  3. I’m not a fan of the expression, “Seriously?” in regard to something the speaker finds ridiculous or unbelievable. It’s overused and past its trendiness as a “cool” response.

    I also dislike when people turn a noun into a verb to sound businesslike. For example, “Your yoga teacher will resource you with books and websites to help you grow in your practice.” It’s terrible English — better to stick with “provide you with resources,” I think.

  4. To me the most over-used and least favorite phrase(s) are: “that being said!” Another one is “just sayin'” Whenever I hear anyone saying these words/phrases I get irritated… they are SO overused, and completely unnecessary! I’m sure they will die out like many phrases do (PLEASE!) but in the meantime whenever I hear them I have to meditate to myself… take deep breaths and relax. Also when people call woman’s breasts “the girls” – that irks me too. Words I DO love are SERENITY and PEACE! 🙂

  5. I’d like to banish the term “ASAP” from the English language. When I worked in a large firm, senior managers always invoked the term as if to underscore the urgency of their request/directive. Over time, I not only resented its use but the term held little meaning for me. Now, as a small business owner, I avoid using the term verbally or in writing. And things seem to happen in a timely manner just the same.

  6. I try to avoid using the word “should.” “Should” implies an expectation and gives away my personal power. Instead I turn it into a want or need. As in turning “I should do my laundry.” to “I don’t want to do my laundry, but I will because I need clean clothes for tomorrow.” Or “I should eat a salad tonight.” to “I want to eat a salad because it makes me feel good.”

    I feel it shifts my whole perspective and gives me back the power that “should” takes away.

  7. I feel compelled to defend “It is what it is.” I think the interpretation is in the eye of the beholder and in fact I use the phrase exactly the opposite way that Gretchen Rubin does – I think it means “The situation is not what you want it to be, it is what it actually is.” We can’t make real changes from a platform in the clouds, we have to begin with where we really are.

  8. Listen to yourself when you say, oh, I feel guilty. We are setting ourselves up with this one! I would like to banish it. It means we have committed a bad action, a crime. Instead, we should describe how we feel for that person or use more descriptive language. I think it’s a crazy one to blame ourselves.

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