The word can slip out easily: You might look at someone, shrug your shoulders, and say, “Whatever.” But be careful whom you say it to. According to a recent Marist poll, Americans consider “whatever” to be the most annoying word or phrase in conversation for the fourth year in a row.
Researchers interviewed 1,246 adults across the U.S. in December. Thirty-two percent said they find the word “whatever” to be the most irritating. “Like”—which 21 percent of respondents don’t like—came next on the list, followed by “you know” and “just sayin’.” “Twitterverse” and “gotcha” rounded out the list.
The Marist poll, conducted by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in Poughkeepsie, New York, is a highly respected public opinion poll that gets Americans’ views on politics, entertainment, family, and more. Marist College students help conduct every survey.
This year’s top-four most annoying words were actually the same as last year’s. Surveyors also added two words that weren’t on the list last year—“Twitterverse” and “gotcha.” (“Seriously,” chosen by 7 percent of last year’s respondents, was not included this year.)
Though men and women gave similar responses, there were some differences by age. People ages 18 to 29, for example, were more likely to be most annoyed by “like” than by “whatever.” Respondents under 45 were more than twice as likely as those 45 and older to identify “just sayin’” as the most annoying word.