Wednesday, March 23, 2011

At the end of the day. . .

There is an entertaining post on Blood-Red Pencil at the moment about hated words and phrases.

I must admit that, when it comes to empty or redundant phrases, I am as guilty as anyone. I say 'PIN number' even though I used to work in a bank (I don't say ATM machine but I am forgiving of people who do). I have never said '9 a.m. in the morning' but it's definitely not impossible that some day I will.

But I have my own pet hates.

One of mine is the phrase 'It's the exception that proves the rule.'

I read once that this phrase originates from a time when to prove something meant to test it. I never liked the expression much anyway, because I often heard it used as a way to dismiss annoying counter-arguments without having to admit that they were valid.

But now - it's like nails on a blackboard. Which is very unfair, because there really are times when the exception does highlight the rule. Still drives me nuts though.

Are there any words or phrases you hate?


  1. I've got a list of these myself. I should go check out the link to see if any of my pet go-away please phrases are on the list. I don't like "24-7" or certain overused words that might have been good once, like "poignant".

  2. Fake words being brought into language when they're not needed is what really gets me. Like "quadrilogy." The proper term for a 4-part series is "tetralogy." If you don't think that's a good word in a marketing sense, use "series."

    Of course, the English graduate in me keeps reminding me that words being made up because someone doesn't know or doesn't like an existing term is how language grows and evolves, but it still grates on me.

  3. Basically. I hate that word!

  4. We all have our pet hates and peeves. I'm not sure what's wrong with PIN number. That's what we call it in Oz???? I wrote a whole post on this and let myself go. It was rather fun. Here's the link if you'd like a look. I don't think you commented at the time:


  5. Karen, I remember when '24/7' was in its infancy - a girl used it in my English class and a few people giggled at it. Oh, for those days. . . :)

    Right there with you on that, Paul! I know it's how language evolves but I don't have to like watching it. I also like roast chicken but I'm not nuts about watching that come into being either!

    Ellie, I think you're basically right but it does have some uses :p Sorry, couldn't resist! I don't like it much myself but I use it *all the time* and can't stop. . .

    Denise, over here PIN stands for Personal Identification Number, so calling it a PIN number means you're kind of saying Personal Identification Number Number. But even though I know this, just saying 'PIN' sounds wrong! When I worked in a bank everyone just said PIN and it always sounded weird to me.

    Cheers for the link, I loved your entry and laughed out loud a couple of times! I left a comment over there, but I will just say this - it will take a lot to beat the Irish at saying the word 'like'. We always used it a lot and then Buffy and Friends happened and we got so much worse.

  6. I saw it the other day, and I've only been seeing the term in the last few years.

    Baby bump.

  7. William, you've reminded me - I hate the phrase 'We're pregnant.' when used to refer to a couple.

    'We're expecting a baby' is fine. 'We're having a baby' is also fine. 'We're starting a family' - grand. WE are not pregnant. If there is a single uterus in the equation, it is not possible for more than one person to be pregnant.

    Drives me NUTS.


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