The English language is filled with thousands of brilliant words that can evoke feelings of joy, horror, laughter, and dismay. With such a rich assortment of words and phrases, it can be a little surprising that one word has managed to gather 47% of the votes in a recent poll by the Marist Institute of Public Opinion for ‘The Most Hated Word in the U.S.’
And if you’re thinking “Whatever” then you’re right on the money – “whatever” is the most hated word by Americans. In fact, it’s been ranked as the most hated word in the U.S. for the twelfth year in a row. “Whatever” even managed to gain a stronger result than the previous year when it got 34% of the vote.
The second place this year with a measly 19% of the vote went to “like”, followed by “in my opinion” (13%), “actually” (9%), and “you are on mute” (9%). The list phrase is somewhat amusing given that 2020 year was the year of online Zoom conference calls for many Americans.
For reference, in 2019, the list of runner-ups included “no offense, but” (20%), “dude” (16%), “literally” (14%), and “please wait, I’ll be right with you” (9%).
What’s also interesting is that the people’s hatred toward “whatever” was almost unanimous across all demographic groups – men and women, old and young, East and West coast, as well as people in the Midwest, everybody hated “whatever”.
As the Marist breaks it down, National consensus exists on the dislike of the word. Regardless of region of residence, whatever is thought to be the most annoying word or phrase around: 54% in the Northeast, 51% in the West, 45% in the South, and 40% in the Midwest. Women (52%) are more likely than men (42%) to abhor “whatever”.
It is worth noting that the 2020 poll was relatively small in size – about 1,800 people. That being said, the Marist makes these polls every year, and the fact that “whatever” takes the Top spot for a twelfth year in a roll is definitely a large enough sample size.
And that’s not surprising – it is a pretty frustrating word. “Whatever” does have some uses that aren’t inherently meant to piss people off but in a lot of conversations, it’s expressively used to denote a lack of interest and even disdain toward the topic or the other person.