1. K – K? Ugh, I mean, OK. You may think that texting or saying “k” is a quick way of acknowledging whatever just happened, but recently it’s come to convey something more sinister (or at least apathetic). This says you can’t be bothered to add the extra syllable of the “O”, and you’re dismissing the other person as being not worth more than one letter.
2. YOLO – It’s true: You only live once. And if this acronym were actually inspiring people to start orphanages, try skydiving, or finally write their novel, then its usage would be understandable, admirable even. Unfortunately, today, it’s mainly an excuse for not taking care of basic responsibilities. It’s become the spoken equivalent of the shrug. \_(ツ)_/
3. LITERALLY – This word has completely lost all meaning. Like, literally, it has. See? There. I did it.
4. LOL – This now means pretty much the opposite of its original meaning back in the days of yore (AKA the days of AOL chatrooms) Absolutely no one is laughing out loud when they type it unless they say “actually LOLing,” which is proof just how pointless this phrase is. But worse yet: If it’s lowercase, it almost means “that’s not funny.” But it does provide a semi-useful shorthand for “I don’t know what else to say to end this text thread.”
5. HASHTAG – The day Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake did their first infamous #hashtag sketch became the day this stopped being self-aware and started just being a punchline for people who don’t understand social media or those who use online symbols out loud. And nothing is worse than “#blessed,” except maybe your parents not knowing how to use an actual hashtag.
6. PREGGERS – Every time someone calls a woman “preggers,” it brings to mind that scene in the first Men In Black when Edgar gets possessed by aliens and walks around screaming “Egger want more sugggggar!” Pregnant women already sometimes feel like they’re alien hosts; do you really want to make that feeling worse? Also, it’s not cute; it’s infantilizing, if anything.
7. WHATEVER – It’s not the ’90s anymore, and you’re not Cher Horowitz in Clueless. Saying “whatever” these days just tells people you can’t be bothered to care enough about what they’re saying to formulate a real response. You don’t seem cool; you seem obnoxious.
8. NO OFFENSE – Actually, yes offense. Any time you preface a statement with “no offense, but…” you know damn well what you’re about to say is super offensive. Telling someone they’re not allowed to take offense just takes all the fun out of saying shocking things.
9. I CAN’T EVEN – This incomplete phrase is often used to convey how totally fed up you are with something but it leaves the listener hanging. And it only further confuses things when it’s finished with “I can’t even with this” or “I can’t even with you.” You can’t what? You’re leaving out the most important word of the entire sentence! Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I just want people to speak in complete thoughts, OK?
10. BASIC – Calling someone “basic” is a rude way of saying they’re boringly normal. The problem with this? From a statistical perspective, the person speaking is probably just as firmly in the “average” range. Very few humans are as exceptional as they think they are. And, a lot of things that are supposedly basic are actually really good, like anything pumpkin-flavored and Starbucks. Also, being normal shouldn’t be an insult, especially in a world filled with terrible abnormalities.
11. SWEET – Fruit is sweet. Candy is sweet. Grandmas and babies and puppies are all sweet. But saying your new sound system is “sweeeeeeeet” just makes you sound like a surfer without a board stuck in a bad part of the ’90s. Not that saying something is “cool” “hot” “sick” or “killer” makes any more sense, frankly.
12. RETARDED – This word is so offensive that even typing it feels cringeworthy, but it needs to be said — er, not said. Just because it was shorthand for stupid when you were growing up doesn’t mean it’s acceptable now, along with all the other insensitive and cruel names that make fun of a disability, race, gender, sexuality, or culture.
13. TREMENDOUS – The word “tremendous” used to be fine…that is, until this last election cycle. No matter how you feel about Trump’s politics, nearly everyone can agree that he throws this word around way too much and uses it to describe things that aren’t even remotely tremendous. Not to mention it’s impossible to say it without using his hand gestures to go with it. Let’s just retire this one until the next heated election?
14. PRECIOUS – Precious used to mean something dear or valuable (or a ring to rule them all, depending on your childhood), but these days it’s become a backhanded compliment. Unless you’re speaking to a baby, when you call someone precious now, it sounds like you think they’re too cute and probably also a little stupid.
15. SCRUMPTIOUS – Who actually says scrumptious out loud? By saying ‘scrumptious’, you just sound like someone who has no hobbies and no Internet, and also like someone who has never been socialized controlling your thoughts and words.
16. EPIC – Epic describes something on a grand scale, usually something fun, like an adventure. And while it does make a great — dare I say, epic?— description, the problem comes when we use it for more everyday things, like a trip to the grocery store. Because what’s bigger and better than “epic?” There aren’t many words more epic than “epic” that convey the same meaning! Save this one for when you really mean it.
17. TOTES – Totes is teen-girl shorthand for totally — which means that by its very nature it’s impossible for adults to say without sounding silly. It also is silly. Just say the whole word! See also: adorbs, gorg, probs, and whatevs.
18. INTERWEBS – Everyone has a crotchety old relative somewhere who can’t tell the difference between the internet and a fishing net and who calls the web some mishmash of the two, most commonly “interwebs.” It’s cute and funny when they do it. The rest of the people who use it just sound like they’re making fun of old people. Don’t be the guy who makes fun of old people.
19. SQUEE – Squeeing is the noise you make when you’re squealing and peeing, so unless you’re actively doing both, maybe think of a different way to express your excitement? Besides, it just sounds silly.