It’s not nails on a chalkboard, the ring of the morning alarm, or the twang of a horrible country song; it’s the sound of an annoying word.
Everyday life is reliant on words. Walking across campus is an opportunity to hear words — good, bad, annoying and incomprehensible. It would be near impossible to complete day-to-day tasks without words. But nothing throws a wrench into the day like hearing an irritating word. For some, blood boils upon hearing the word “swag.”
In fact, Dixie Sun News surveyed 50 students and “swag” was rated No. 1 on the list of most annoying words. Coming in second on the list was the f-word, followed by “yolo,” “twerk,” “jelly,” “totes,” “cray,” “like,” literally” and “owned.”
English instructor Olga Pilkington said words become annoying when the usage is increased or an incorrect meaning is assigned to a word.
“We play with words,” Pilkington said. “Like the word ‘anywho.’ Letters get rearranged to sound more playful, but some can find it annoying.”
Pilkington said language develops in its own way, and odd, abnormal language has a way of getting on other’s nerves.
Briana Smith, a junior communication major from Holden, regrets using annoying words, like “fab,” when she was in middle school and has since realized vocabulary says a lot about a person.
“Words are annoying when there is not true meaning behind it,” Smith said. “People who used those words seem less mature, maybe less educated.”
Some students have a preconceived idea of the kind of person who would use words like “jelly” and “totes.” Jorgen Bailey, a freshman music major from St. George, said he envisions a person who talks too much and tweets and Facebooks constantly spewing trendy words.
“I have a friend that always says ‘cray-cray’ and ‘adorbes,'” Bailey said. “She also made up a word called ‘smexy’ for some reason. I don’t even know what that means.”
Bailey admits he has used words that are vexatious.
“I used to say ‘literally’ all the time,” Bailey said. “‘Literally’ is a word changed to mean the opposite of what it really means. I also joke around and say ‘cray-cray’ sometimes to be funny.”
Even Pilkington is guilty of using some inferior vocabulary in the past.
“I used to love the word ‘whatever’ as a teenager,” Pilkington said. “I loved it and said it all the time in the incorrect usage. ‘Whatever’ used to be a normal word, but now a new meaning is formed.”
All words — annoying or not — have a meaning and usually have been created for a reason.
“As a linguist, I love all words,” Pilkington said. “To me, annoying words express something and can be interesting. I approach words with curiosity rather than annoyance.”