Ten phrases we Irish could live without. Just saying

‘Twerk’ has been voted the most annoying phrase of 2013. But if the list had been compiled in Ireland, we suspect it might have been a little different

The T-shirt that Urban Outfitters pulled from its shops: since when did someone else’s serious illness make for a witty fashion statement?

The T-shirt that Urban Outfitters pulled from its shops: since when did someone else’s serious illness make for a witty fashion statement?


In a recent reader poll in Time magazine on the most annoying phrases of 2013, the word that received the most votes was “twerk”. This verb denotes the pelvic thrusting, gyrating and tongue-flexing performed by tween stars to signal that they have embarked upon a process likely to culminate in a series of short-lived marriages, stints in rehab, before their eventual re-emergence as a credible actor or animal rights activist.

The runners-up included “selfie”, “hashtag”, “epic fail” and the perhaps unfairly maligned “swagger”. If the list had been compiled in Ireland, we suspect it might have looked a little different. So here are our suggestions for the 10 words, phrases, acronyms and oratorical tics Irish people could justifiably decide they never, ever wanted to hear again:

The best small country in the world in which to do business (TBSCITWIWTDB): Not even the near constant repetition of this phrase by Enda Kenny and Richard Bruton can make its wilder elements true. And by “wilder elements”, we mean everything except the word “small”. Ireland is really very good at being small, though.

‘That awkward moment when . . . ’ It was mildly amusing the first, second and 18th time you read a tweet or Facebook status update in this manner. But if you’re still at it, you might be starting to sound like your Auntie Madge during that embarrassing period she went around telling everyone to “chillax”.

Troika, bailout, austerity, bondholders, haircut, eventual return to the markets, green shoots of recovery, etc: It’s over – can we please revert to talking about Saipan?

Suicidality: Whatever side of the abortion debate they’re on, no one is likely to look back with any fondness on last year’s endless, circular debates about whether termination of pregnancy was or was not a “treatment for suicidality” (and whether anyone suggested it might have been in the first place). “Suicidality” is a clinical term seldom encountered outside academic psychiatry – and there are good reasons for that.

Creative punctuation: We. Get. It. You’re overcome with waspish, faux-ironic irritation. There’s still need to go mad with the full stops. Also, unless you are 13, emoticons have no place in your life.

‘Just saying’: Is there a more irritatingly passive-aggressive, or less useful, phrase in the English language?

‘You would genuinely get a pain in your hand signing documents’: This phrase was gifted to the Irish people by developer Seán Dunne to explain why he didn’t retain financial records for his transactions and asset transfers to his family. Feel free to insert the weak excuse/half-baked explanation/not-quite apology by the banker, developer or politician of your choice here.

Hipster: Until about two years ago, hipsters were mostly found in the arts departments of universities or drinking craft beer in dingy pubs, where they were identified by their wittily unkempt facial hair, spray-on jeans and studied nonchalance. But suddenly, everyone and everything is a self-proclaimed “hipster”, and it’s impossible to tell the authentic article from the average skinny person in a Top Shop T-shirt. Of course, banning the word “hipster” would rob the internet of the roughly 92 per cent of its content either aimed at hipsters or the people who like to laugh at them.

Totes: It wasn’t even funny the first time.

Story: There’s nothing wrong with the word “story”, except when it is glibly applied by international commentators to the catastrophe that has befallen Ireland over the past six years. “The Irish property market story”; “the economic recovery story”; “the Celtic Tiger story”. We are a dignified, hard-working people, not a nation of would-be X Factor contestants, spewing out cheap tears for sympathy. Right? Right? Anyone?

l A T-shirt too far: Speaking of hipsters, that mecca for the creatively bespectacled, Urban Outfitters, found itself in the news this week after it was forced to withdraw from sale a T-shirt emblazoned with the word “Depression”. After a backlash on social media, the company issued a hipsterish sort of apology. “Hey everyone, we hear you and we are taking the shirt down from the site,” a tweet from its official account read. Openness about mental health issues is direly needed, but since when did someone else’s serious illness make for a witty fashion statement?

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