Monday 15 March 2021

Little Guide to My Pet Peeves - Part 1 (Words & Phrases)

 Little Guide To Pet Peeves

A long overdue follow up to my book Little Guide To Unhip but I have decided to do these as a series of blogs.

I shall being posting these over the next few weeks (or probably months at this rate) as it keeps evolving, especially as all our lives have changed so much since I began this. But some things are just as relevant as they ever were, for example, in relation to the online world!

I began this for fun, so please do take it in the spirit in which it’s meant.  I’ll put my hands up and say I probably have as many annoying little turns of phrases and behaviours as the next person.  These are just my personal bête-noires.  

I’ve divided them loosely into ten areas (which may change as I go along) but the first thing that inspired me to begin this was Part 1 – words and phrases. Please feel free to share your own in the comments section.


Part 1 - Words & Phrases


Hun- This really gives me the heebie-whatsits. It’s ubiquitous, you can’t escape it. The most guilty are women on social media or other internet platforms talking to other women.  The worst thing about it is that it’s meant to be a term of affection, or extending friendship. Sorry about your tooth pain, hun.  PM me, hun and I will give you a link XX.  But why? I want to scream ‘My name is Kate’ or whatever user name I happen to be using, so why the heck all this hun malarkey?  I’m not part of the hun club and you won’t catch me following the herd to be accepted. I am past all that.  I can forgive a person if they are Australian as I think its use there predates the false chumminess of the internet. I think it may be true in Scotland too. My mother used to call me honeybunch as a term of endearment when I was a child. But she is my mother and not many others used it. Certainly not every other person.

A close runner is Sweetie.  Sometimes I give in to temptation and call them 'flower' or 'petal' or 'my dear' in return.  My sister loathes it when men call her 'dear'. She always replies by calling them 'pal'.

Irregardless– it is regardless and irrespective but now the two seem to be conflated, and the uninitiated will continue to say irregardless, regardless of what I write and what is right. In fact, I couldn’t help but sneak this into a novel.  Speech blunders are wonderful for character studies!

Panties– I know I’m not alone with this one. In one of the book groups on Facebook there were 291 comments below the original post by someone claiming it was one of her pet hates too some years ago.  There were some hilarious contributions to the thread and particularly from one man who was persuaded to remove his ‘panties’ from the character in his book. This is the wonder of an international discussion where in the US women’s underwear is panties and the knickers of the Brits are not used.  One of my contributions to this long thread was the reason I loathe the word ‘panties’ is because it sounds a mixture of infantilising and porno in equal measure, ugh!  It seems to be generally us British women who cringe at its use.

So– this tiny little word at the beginning of every sentence, or in answer to any question put to a politician, or to begin any Facebook status. This annoys my brother more than me although I did incorporate this annoyance into the same work of fiction as the irregardless mentioned above. 

Going Forward– like ‘so’ heading every sentence, or ‘hun’ ending every social media comment, ‘going forward’ has spread everywhere like mold spores.  What began as a considered, emotionally intelligent way of getting one out of a sticky hole and not repeating the awful mistakes of the past in a given situation, now seems to be a redundant glue word.  ‘What we are doing, going forward, is this..’ ‘What do you want to do now, going forward…?’ As if there was some doubt regarding the direction of travel. What else are we doing?  As good as it would be to time travel, I don’t think physics has quite caught up with that yet, so we shan’t be going backward any time soon.  Whatever happened to ‘in the future’? 

My bad– when I first heard this – or should I say, saw it written down in a forum – I thought there must have been an error; that the author had omitted a word. It didn’t even make any sense. I wanted to say My bad what? But then, as is the way when you hit on a new expression, I started seeing it everywhere.  I mean, why not just say ‘my mistake’ or ‘I’m sorry’? That would be too simple, though.

Have Your Cake and Eat It – I’ve never really got the measure of this silly expression or what it’s trying to convey.  I know the sort of context in which it’s it’s said. But if it’s meant to mean you can’t eat your cake twice then why not just say that?  That’s perfectly clear to me.  But also it’s stating the bleeding obvious too.  Why would anyone try and eat the same cake twice?  I think we need a completely new expression or why not stick with the much clearer ‘you can’t have it both ways’. 

Anymore For Any More– Usually said when some hostess with the mostest is wanting to know if her guests want any more helpings of food.  It just seems to be one of those irritating, over-achieving over-used expressions which isn’t all that.  Maybe it’s just me, but just ask me and my table neighbour if we’d like any more. You don’t have to be clever: a hackneyed phrase that wasn’t all that clever to start with is just, well, annoying.

Panic Attacks- when what is really meant is a minor panic with none of the accompanying palpitations, quaking legs, flip-flopping stomach, sizzling/icy sweats, dizzy vision, swimming head, thoughts going faster than the London Marathon, you get the picture.

Furthest from the work place– this is one of those veiled vicious phrases employed by the Department of Work & Pensions to pass judgment on you or your sick and disabled friends, single mothers, long term unemployed etc and to single you out for some Nudging, Work Related Activity, Help with Your CV or something equally patronizing. Worse, you may be bullied, humiliated, sanctioned or all three with the new sweeping powers bestowed on the Employment Services and Disability Health Assessors.

Here are a few more phrases that are pretty annoying because of the regularity with which they’re used:

Kicked the can down the road (or into the long grass)–it was a good descriptive metaphor for the first person who used it, now I just want to kick it into oblivion. 

Thrown him/her/me under the bus– similar to above. They could at least change the mode of transport. The poor bus gets it every time.

Tin ears – there was a time circa 2019 when every other politician accused his or her opposite number of having their lugs made of a particular metal

Mood music – another platitude latched onto by (mainly) politcians

Let’s unpack thisnot in relation to returning from your holidays either, but ‘let’s go into this in more depth’.

Drilling down– similar to the above ‘let’s drill down into these numbers’

Early doors – the doors bit is completely redundant.  What people mean is ‘early on’. But the doors part obviously originates from going to a venue when the ‘doors’ were just opening eg for a gig or theatre production. 

It is what it is – a truism of ever there was one.  It isn’t what it isn’t might be a bit more original. Or perhaps try saying it isn’t what it is or it is what it isn’t which might at least raise a few eyebrows or spark some interesting philosophical debates

Dial it down – again, it was good on first hearing, a little less on second but very quickly slipped into clichéhood.  How many devices have dials these days in any case?

It doesn’t even touch the sides –another tired and over-used phrase

Row back – at the time of writing this (March 2021), this is used with increasing frequency.  Meaning to change your original opinion or decision 

Double down – apparently this comes from blackjack but it’s taken off now and applies to sticking to one’s position resolutely even in the face of adversity

From the get-go – nothing against US expressions when they’re from people from the US! But this has now largely replaced ‘from the start’.

Pushback – what happened to the good old-fashioned words such as resistance or opposition?

A friend of mine detests - singing from the same hymn sheet. I sort of know what she means.


Uptick - keep hearing this a lot!

Shift the dial - I guess, as with 'dial it down' people are getting very nostalgic for dials!

Get out of jail card - this has been popular in the last few years especially among sports' commentators

Lessons will be learned - this deserves a section all of its own.  Suffice to say, it has inspired a poem which has been published.

Baked in 

Blue sky thinking 

Low hanging fruit

Perfect storm

We're pregnant! - Now, I'm all for men taking part in childbirth and supporting their partners; they did have a big part to play, after all, but they are not seahorses. They don't carry the baby in their tums, so this is a step too far for me. 

I shall be bringing more pet peeves next time!


  1. Totally agree about Hun. And also men who call you baby, when they don't know you. What's wrong with your name? Panic attacks as well. As you say, people use those words to describe just being a bit upset without all the terrifying physical symptoms that accompany them. Also, It is what it is is a phrase that has caught on and is annoying. I haven't heard of some of the others so thanks for sharing them. Loved reading it. Brilliant!

    1. Thank you Ann! I know you agree about hun! I'm glad you enjoyed it and agree :)

  2. I see you have added more. Great! I agree about sweetie and dear, and as you rightly said, I respond with "pal"! The word, "So" is used so much, with the emphasis on the "so"! Why? The words, "My Bad" totally confused me as never knew what it meant and it never made any sense. Panic attacks, I agree are often totally used in the wrong context, when the person is slightly agitated and not hyperventilating, getting dizzy or unsteady etc. Really annoying when you've really had them yourself. Thrown him under the bus, sounds daft too. As you say, why always the bus?? Have only JUST heard "Unpack it" which is totally new to me. Drill down also is new and is used so much now in speech and yet it sounds ridiculous. I read the words "Dial Down" recently in a book about Beauty where the writer was discussing eye shadows, face powders and lipsticks, and kept mentioning dialling down the tone or shade. Brilliant observations, Kate! More please!

  3. "At the end of the day" is an overused one. Soaps use lots of these sayings "it takes one to know one", "each to their own" and other redundant passive and acceptant sayings.

    1. My dad used to comment on and be really irked by ‘at the end of the day’ back in the seventies 😄 He used to imitate some of the Corrie characters saying ‘I’ll swing for you’ etc