Last Updated Dec 16, 2010 2:17 PM EST
Some 39% of those polled this year ranked whatever (pron: What-e-vr) as the nation's most annoying word, far surpassing the second-most hated word "like", which rankled just 28% of respondents in the random telephone survey of more than 1,000 individuals. Whatever was also the most annoying word of 2009.
It's worth mentioning that the survey, which broke down statistics based on age, income, gender and several other demographic slices (such as whether you have kids in your household), found that whatever annoyed nearly universally, though you were somewhat more likely to find the word annoying if you're 45 or older, white and didn't have kids in your household.
The only demographic group that didn't rank whatever as the nation's most annoying word was the group most likely to use the term -- 18 to 29 year-olds, who said "like" was more annoying. Some 44% of this group ranked like as most annoying versus 27% said whatever.
Marist, which launched the poll after their researchers got into a heated dinner discussion last year about the expressions they hated the most, winnows their list to 5 words. Last year, the researchers chose the words. This year, they were largely nominated by consumers, who flooded the college's site with suggestions.
The surveyors didn't ask why people hated these words, but spokeswoman Mary Azzoli speculates that whatever is simply the most dismissive of terms, particularly because it usually comes packaged with heavy body-language -- an eye roll, shrug of the shoulders, the talk-to-the-hand wave. In one word, it manages to convey the message that your point of view isn't even worth discussing.
The other most-annoying words and phrases, according to this year's poll:
"You know what I mean" - 15%
"To tell you the truth" :- 10% (
"Actually" - 5%
Did they get the words that annoy you the most? If not, what are they?