The 10 most annoying phrases on the internet

The Brockley Central talkback seems to have given birth to a new and irritating internet phrase - the "mung-bean elite": an anachronistic label applied with the wit and precision you'd normally ascribe to Gaunty or Littlejohn.

Obviously, we spend far too much time on the internet, but it prompted us to compile a list of the other phrases we hate. What have we missed?

"Fiat money"

Any GCSE economics student will be able to tell you that the most effective forms of currency are those with no inherent value. But Ron Paul supporters use this term like it's a hallowed secret of the Illuminati that they alone have uncovered.

"ZaNu Labour"

Lacking all sense of perspective? Yes. Clever? No. (See also: Tony Bliar)

"Truth to power"

If there is any phrase more self-righteous than this one, we can't think of it. The people who use it like to imagine themselves sticking it to the man, but it usually just involves shouting down anyone they disagree with.

"Mainstream Media"

It's not 2002 any more. Newspapers and blogs cross reference eachother all the time.

"Spot on Jeremy"

If you think the Top Gear audience is sycophantic, check out the comments that follow his every word on the Times website.

"But who can we vote for?"

This phrase is the new "Enoch was right", left hanging on threads by BNP supporters who believe the answer is obvious...

"The once-proud BBC"

Usually followed by a reference to Civilisation or I Claudius and a threat to tear up their license. The narrative of decline conveniently overlooks the Black and White Minstrel Show and Noel's House Party.

"Eurofags keep your noses out of our business"

It was impossible to read an article about the US Presidential election without someone writing words to this effect. Usually in response to a piece written by someone like Lionel Shriver, Gore Vidal, Michael Tomasky or Irwin Stelzer.

"Lycra-clad terrorists"

Anyone with the temerity to ride a bike to work, thereby reducing congestion on roads and overcrowding on public transport. The bastards.


Anonymous said...

I recognise only the last of these. I feel glad I'm not more immersed in popular culture.

Anonymous said...

Oh God! Nick is now swearing.
What the dickens is going on round here?

Brockley Nick said...

Standards have slipped on the once-proud Brockley Central. I for one will not be clicking on its google ads in protest.

nobbly brick said...

"can I get" when asking for something irritates me, but to be positive Nick, I enjoyed this article, as I do many of yours (and kates of course, jon doesn't write much but I'm sure he's an excellent scribe)


Brockley Nick said...

Glad you liked it! :)

Jon is the Brockley Central puppet master. He works in the shadows and prefers not to get his hands dirty as word-monkey.

Anonymous said...

Can I throw this into the mix?

Headhunter said...

Nobbly - I agree! "Can I get a...." is so annoyingly American. I have nothing against Americans but do we have to slavishly follow their every move and linguistic nuance? I hear "Can I get..." every day in sandwich shops, cafes, restaurants etc. What happened to "Morning/afternoon my good sir/madam, would you be so kind as to supply me with a xxx of your finest xxx, if you'd be so kind?"

The Cat Man said...

I have everything against Americians, look what they did to the world economy? they are all fat!

Anonymous said...

I'm reliably assured that "would you be so kind as to supply me with a xxx?" is still an acceptable formulation in the right kind of establishment.

Anonymous said...

Phew! I'm glad all that positivity "good life" stuff is over and we're back to what we do best!

Anonymous said...

That’s certainly been the mood in Davos catman. The Chinese left the fat remark out though, but that’s only because they are not there to solve obesity.

The use of LOL or ROFLMAO does my head in. I mean why put lots of lard after everything?

Anonymous said...

i've never heard of any of those phrases (other than fiat money but not in the context of annoying phrase on the internet)

Anonymous said...

The phrases that annoy me the most are what I would call “lazy phrasing”. This is the senseless repetition of an introduced phrase ad nauseam, this being the very opposite of individual thought.

Thus “credit crunch” is trotted out endlessly when a variety of other descriptions could just as easily be used.

On this very blog, it’s the daily appearance of “mung bean”. It’s not clever and it never was particularly funny anyway.

Headhunter said...

Must admit I haven't heard any of those phrases apart from the lycra clad thing. What on earth is "Fiat money"?

Anonymous said...

"the senseless repetition of an introduced phrase ad nauseam, this being the very opposite of individual thought."

do you hate it when people say they are going to the bank or the hairdressers instead of making up some 'individual' term for it?

i agree with you on mung bean but that's just because it's not funny

Anonymous said...

I thought that mung bean was some affectionate joshing, a mung bean a good thing, it's a good source of non animal protein plus essential vitamins and minerals but I suppose it does sound like 'mong' which is slightly less pleasant in its associations.

The Cat Man said...

Are mung beans black or green?

Anonymous said...

Oooh, 'word monkey', like it - I've been looking for a new job title for ages. Cheers Nick!

Monkeyboy said...

'Leverage' or using the 'equity' (another word that may not be in use much from now on) in your home to buy more stuff.

Both may be replaced by 'bailiff' soon.

Tressillian James said...

Do you know what I find annoying? British middle-class anti-americanism - especially when it is wrapped up in generalisations about obesity. I'm also not too enamoured with people thinking that it is ok to have a go at fat people.

Back to phrases - I probably use 'LOL' way too much, but I really hate business speak like 'thinking out of the box'.

Headhunter said...

blue sky thinking anyone?

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify for anyone new to the site, "mung bean" means crusty, neo/fad environmentalists who absolutely HAVE to have freerange this, fairtrade that and organic everything else. They don't seem to mind what else they do or how they relate to other people as long as there's a token gesture of self-validation in there.

Think shops that push these credentials over simple factors such as how good, or cheap their stock is, or individuals who think they're better for buying into the hype.

Tressillian James said...

Nobbly Brick - just sign your posts

Anonymous said...

Totally with you on the use of "leverage" Monkeyboy, old chap. It was known as gearing when I was involved in all that derivatives malarkey. And you're right about "equity". Aargh, that gets on my t*ts when people use it when they're referring to the capital appreciation on their "property", (or house/flat as they used to be called)

And you can add killjoy to the definition of mung bean.

PS I haven't read Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, and school was so long ago that I can't remember whether single or double quotes are appropriate. Is there a proofreader/sub-editor in the house?

nobbly brick said...

TJ - don't understand you, sorry

max said...

This is more bullsh*t bingo territory but "robust approach" tops my list.
If you ever attend a Mayor and Cabinet meeting at Lewisham Council try to count how many times you hear it.

Anonymous said...

"Eats, Shoots and Leaves" is a bit populist - what you want is "Hart's Notes for Compositors" or Joy Barker (I think her name is,I can't lay my hands on my copy for the momen) - a solid 300 or so pages on copy-editing. The up-shot, though, is that single or double quotes don't really matter as long as you are consistent.

nobbly brick said...

Ah Max, you're just trying to tempt me into developer territory.

I remember a memorable email from a councillor who's inclined to leave all the previous emails in the thread - it had a memorable 'we know the plan is robust' from one of the mouthpieces of the Gateway.

sod it

anyway, my perceived miserableness is only a reaction, not a symptom.

can't think of any jokes

if I go up to the top of my house I can just about see the dogging area on Hilly Fields

no steamed-up cars yet...

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, I write better than anyone I've ever met, and certainly better than anyone on the internet.

Anonymous said...

you strike me as the kind who doesn't get to meet many people

Monkeyboy said...

Fred V Hugh. Reminds me of Alien V Predator.

Anonymous said...

A word currently available for use in may ways...'Toxic'

A word used not long ago to describe plans/ideas that haven't survived recent events 'Substainable'

A word that was positive but is now seen as negative 'global', positive use 'think global' and now 'global crisis'.

Anonymous said...

"would you be so kind as to supply me with a xxx of your finest xxx, if you'd be so kind"

- I assume the 'x's here are used to censor the swearwords that you would use in regular conversation? If so then I'd say that you have a pretty shoddy way of asking for goods and services.

I am opposed to self censorship. When you do have to do it though, Headhunter, it's always nice to use asterisks and include some of the letters from the word you're censoring so we have a hint on what you would have said had you not been so prudish/sensitive to the prudery of those around you.

Some useful examples are:

"Thanks for the eggs, shopkeeper, I'm off home to have a wan*"

"I think the congestion charge is an abomination, I drive a massive *unting car, and I pay my road tax"

If you use the old school xxx censorship format it does leave things a little more to the readers' imagination:

"I want to shove my xxx so far inside your xxx that my xxx ruins your xxx and your xxx and you can't wear that xxx pair of xxx ever again."

So there's something to be said for it.

I noticed a t*ts and a bullsh*t in the comments for this blog already and can't help but wonder if people think that the vowels are the only part of the swearword that's rude?

*u** that!

Anonymous said...

Have you been drinking?
It seems pretty clear to me that the Xs in Headhunter's post were substitutes for the goods he was theoretically asking for.

"Morning/afternoon my good sir/madam, would you be so kind as to supply me with a xxx (pint) of your finest xxx(bitter), if you'd be so kind?"

Anonymous said...

I doubt Hugh ever cycles, runs or swims, his head is far too large to ever fit through a door.

nobbly brick said...

Doors come in all shapes and sizes, heads are, within certain tolerances, a similar size.

are we talking catflaps or pearly gates?

Anonymous said...

Mr Nick - doedwn't strike me that this doesn't really have anything to do with Brockley issues .... are you slipping into the tabloid disease of trying to fill space????

Brockley Nick said...

Well it was prompted by the mung bean madness, which seems to account for half the posts on here at the moment. But true enough, sometimes the need for self-expression overrides the Brockley news agenda.

Not a space filling exercise though, I'd already done one story for the day and to my knowledge, you can't fill-up the internet.

max said...

Not Proper Brockley, just to put the record straight, "Bullshit Bingo" is the name of a game, not a swearword to fill empty space.

If there was a credible and more polite way to call it I would have used the polite subsititute.

I used the asterisk instead of the letter "i" because:

- swearing in comments on blogs is puerile and I don't want to encourage it adding to the risk of being swamped by teenagers experimenting with extreme language;

- some people object to it and they have their right of not being subjected to it.

I've done it in the past though and in that case it was done to put forward the full meaning of the word bullshit without writing a swearword for the two reasons stated above.
But in reality I think that it's a word that should be rehabilitated because its meaning has nuances that are not well expressed by its closest synonyms, but until it is admitted into the fold I'll keep on avoiding it and if I in the future I'll find it necessary to use it again I think that I'll keep on putting an asterisk.

patrick1971 said...

Michael Tomasky can't be taken seriously, surely? He's SO one-eyed that if Barack Obama had said that his first act upon election would be to shoot Michael Tomasky, Tomasky would have written a eulogising article about it.

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