opprobrious phrases

Maybe I was in a foul mood. Maybe I like to complain. Maybe I’m a bitter man who likes to use words I’ve never heard of before but found in the thesaurus. Whatever the reason, I’m going to give you a glimpse into my infrequent yet sometimes cynical thoughts. Below are three phrases and my almost unconscious response to them. Really, the response just pops into my head when I hear or read them.

1. Needless to say…

If it doesn’t need to be said, why in flapping quackers are you saying it?

2. That being said…

If you barely finished saying something is it really necessary to refer to how you just said something before you move on?

3. I could care less

If you could care less, then you care for it. I think you mean you couldn’t care less.

Now that you’ve read my blathering on those phrases, feel free to use them all you want. I just liked using the word opprobrious.


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  1. I love “that being said”. It acts as a fine bridge for juxtoposing two divergent arguments. I mean there are only so many times before you can write “but” or “inspite of this”, before it gets tired and you feel a need to replace these with a new equivalent phrase. That being said, I understand your response.

    Comment by Stephen on August 20, 2004 @ 10:18 am
  2. The one that really gets me is “all but” as in “After her devastating last-place finish, the gymnast was all but forgotten.” That means the gymnast wasn’t forgotten, but that’s not how most people use it.

    Comment by Meredith on August 20, 2004 @ 10:23 am
  3. Thus we see that needless to say, I hate the word “irregardless”.

    Comment by Renee on August 20, 2004 @ 10:34 am
  4. My all time most despised saying is “Yah know?”, which some people say after almost every sentence.

    I usually say, “No sorry, I have no idea what you mean.” That generally catches them off guard. Sometimes they try to explain it and then ask, “Yah know?” Priceless. :)

    Comment by dav on August 20, 2004 @ 11:18 am
  5. I am not unamused when people use double negatives.

    Comment by danithew on August 20, 2004 @ 11:22 am
  6. You have a category “English”???

    Comment by Indranil on August 20, 2004 @ 12:08 pm
  7. Also of note (possibly):

    Words & Phrases Due for Retirement

    Comment by Konstantinos on August 20, 2004 @ 2:17 pm
  8. Indranil: What’s wrong with that? I could rename it to writing I guess, but English seems reasonable to me.

    Comment by dan on August 20, 2004 @ 5:20 pm
  9. You’re rather in my wheelhouse on this topic — if that phrase itself isn’t too cliched or presumptuous of me to say. I certainly have to say that you stumped me with opprobrious, and I had to scramble to m-w.com to look it up. I didn’t see this entry until just now, so I’m jumping in late, and on the weekend.

    Bravo to Stephen for his realistic use of “that being said” in his comment for it. I agree that when it’s used to close to the idea or phrase to which it refers, it doesn’t fulfill a useful role, in long, convoluted conversation (as those in which yours truly can be known to participate) I think it can be useful as a transitional tool.

    I agree with you that “needless to say” can usually be left unsaid, and on the illogical actual meaning of “I could care less.”

    I’m trying to think of others to add, and I know there’s one in which people add an extra suffix to an already perfectly good noun, and in my mind I often begin adding suffixes onto words and seeing how far I can get…. I’m thinking it’s along the lines of “reciprocity” or something … something that ends in -ity, and I just start adding suffixes like “reciprocity-ation-ism-ary” etc…. Sorry, maybe you just had to be there. I understand from a German-speaking friend (not a native speaker, but lots of study) that German words can actually be created that way.

    I’m sure I have more language pet peeves I’m not thinking of right now, and I think what’s at the root of my frustration is the idea that people really aren’t thinking about what they’re saying, and it seems kind of inconsiderate to just toss words and communication out there with little or not thought, leaving them messy and unclear. I realize that I might also over-think everything I say, and be expecting others to do the same, but I guess to me it’s about respecting those with whom you’re communicating. When we write love notes or apply for a job, we spell check and write carefully and really take our time at it, becuase we care about the receiver, and/or want to impress them, so what does it say to the person to whom we write shabbily? It’s like dressing up for church: the best we have may not be as good as the best someone else has, but we do the best we can. Or if we don’t, why aren’t we?

    Sorry. This got me going. That being said, I do try to make allowances for simple typos and such. But there is great value in clean, precise, vigorous writing and communication. From “A River Runs Through It”, father to his home-schooled son, “Again, half as long” at least three times(?).

    Comment by DaveH on August 20, 2004 @ 10:42 pm
  10. Welcome back!

    Dan, I didn’t know it was possible for you to be cynical.

    Just to show you how stupid I am: Living in Oklahoma I have heard the word pronounced “approbrious.” I just looked it up and apparently people are confusing the word with approbation which is almost the direct opposite of opprobrious. Kind of funny.

    I found your phrases to be quite comical. We all have those pet peeve words and phrases. Luckily the only one I am guilty of is “that being said” or “having said that.” I too tire of ordinary conjunctions.

    Comment by Babs on August 21, 2004 @ 9:18 am
  11. Just thought I would let you know I was reading a book last night that used the term opprobrious. I felt so smug . . . it is amazing what useful info one can gain from blogging.

    Comment by Babs on August 22, 2004 @ 11:20 am
  12. Babs: I was just attempting to be humorous while pointing out those phrases. And I wouldn’t say that thinking it was approbrious shows you’re stupid. You’re ahead of me because I didn’t even recognize the word to think it was pronounced differently.

    That’s cool that you saw it in a book. Quite a coincidence too.

    Comment by dan on August 22, 2004 @ 5:34 pm
  13. The first time I thought that I heard “opprobrious” used was in that song by Kim Karnes, Betty Davis Eyes when I was a kid. I looked it up in the dictionary and was satisfied. But then I found out later that she doesn’t say opprobrious, but says “makes a pro blush”. Go figure.

    Comment by jason on August 23, 2004 @ 8:57 am
  14. Dan, I hope volk for whom English is not a native tongue are excepted from the anathema :)

    BTW, you have a fix ready.


    Comment by Moose on August 23, 2004 @ 6:36 pm
  15. By all means, especially those who fix the layout in WordPress.

    Thanks again for the fix.

    Comment by dan on August 24, 2004 @ 8:20 am
  16. Dan, you’re killing me, LOL. Dave mentioned this blog to me and I couldn’t keep away.

    I’ve been told that “I could care less” is actually part of another phrase — “I could care less, but I won’t bother.” When people say, “I could care less,” it could sometimes because they’re just saying the first part of that phrase (why, I’m not sure — there are other examples of that, though — like, “don’t count your chickens” and “up a creek”), but more often, I would guess, it’s probably because they think that’s how the saying goes. It used to kind of bug me, so I started nosing around about it — my family in Wisconsin says it all the time.

    Here are some sayings that kind of bug me these days:

    “try and” (instead of “try to” — an oldie but a goodie)

    “I’m going to lay down” — (Ughhh — please. The difference between lie and lay is NOT that hard to learn.)

    “I probably shouldn’t say this, but . . . .” That one *really* gets to me. If you shouldn’t be saying it, don’t say it.

    There are others . . . it’s harder to think of them while sitting here typing. Hmmm.

    Interesting topic, Dan.

    Comment by Karalyn on August 25, 2004 @ 9:32 am
  17. Karalyn: Aha! I knew I had forgotten one. The use of try and instead of try to is one that I’ve noticed so much I wondered if it had become mainstream.

    I fear that I may not know the difference between lay and lie. My guess is that you lay an object down and a person lies down, but I’m going to have to look it up.

    I just looked it up and at least I’m not alone.

    Also, the difference between effect and affect strikes such terror into me that I have rewritten entire sentences to avoid their use (or misuse as the case may be).

    Comment by dan on August 25, 2004 @ 5:09 pm
  18. Karalyn — you’re reaction here on the blog surprised me after how you reacted to my mention of the blog entry … but I agree wholeheartedly about “try and” vs. “try to”. Your qualm with the phrase “I probably shouldn’t say this” seems like it might be more ethical than grammatical, no?

    Dan — I haven’t researched this just now, and I think there’s an odd exception, but effect is most always a noun and affect is a verb. I guess I just think of “cause and effect” and I’m just so used to that, and know that it’s “effect.” (I like practical ways to remember the rules I’m trying to learn.)

    I had to look up lie/lay too, and in the way of practical reminder, I just thought of “I lie down” and lie has an “i” in it, so I lie down myself, but with other things, I lay them down.

    And I was provided with an example of the language peeve I couldn’t quite identify before. Someone said that something was poetical. But I think they could just as effectively have said that it was poetic. That’s already an adjective. So that’s when, in my mind, I think, “Well, if we’re gonna add one extra ending, why not more?” So, maybe poetical-ascious-ism-ite-ary-ental, etc.

    Comment by DavidH on August 27, 2004 @ 9:42 am
  19. Dave Dogg,

    I should mention that it also bugs me when people mix up “you’re” and “your.”

    Just kidding. ;)

    Yes, the whole “I probably shouldn’t say this . . . ” issue stems from too many conversations in the foyer at church, I’m sure, but it’s my biggest annoyance at the moment. Makes me want to pull my hair out.

    I literally LOL’ed (yes, literally — and that’s another thing that I find funny: when people say things like, “I literally jumped out of my skin!” I mean, c’mon — ow! That’s gotta sting. Not to mention, how embarrassing) when I read what you wrote about “poetical” being repetitive and then, in the same graf, “So that’s when, in my mind, I think . . . ” — where else would you think? Your foot? ;) You have to admit, that is the tiniest bit repetitive-ish(-able-ness-ilicious).

    Sorry to pick on you, Dave, but that’s what you get for calling me to the carpet, LOL. Well, that and the public exposure of your super-secret alter-ego, “Dave Dogg — with the highly intelliegnt foot.” (We really need to shorten that.)

    Comment by Karalyn on August 27, 2004 @ 11:26 am
  20. Another addition to the list. (I may be adding to this for weeks and months to come, but I still doubt I’ll approach the numbers of comments or longevity of the “In The Air Tonight” or Shower Scum threads (right word?).)

    The first line of a newspaper story I just read was, “The BYU women’s volleyball team have traveled all the way across the country to open the 2004 season.” To me, that should really be that the team “has” traveled, because that’s how you/one/I would say it if it were simplified: “The team has traveled.” But I hear a lot of European and/soccer announcers use the plural with a singular country, i.e., “France have won the game.” Maybe it’s something they’re doing intentionally, and maybe there’s some flexibility, but it strikes me as wrong. Would you say “The couple goes to the store,” or “The couple go to the store.”? (And I also debated the punctuation at the end of that sentence. I doubt that what I did is considered right, but I consciously chose it because I like some reason and, hopefully, clarity, over misunderstood rules.)

    P.S. If this message is missing any n’s, I apologize — the key isn’t working right on my keyboard, so I sometimes have to punch it a few times, if I even see that it didn’t work.

    I should probably try to post more briefly …

    Comment by DaveH on September 3, 2004 @ 8:07 pm
  21. Interesting — I’ve thought about that, too, but from the other side. I think “team” should be referred to in the singular sense because it is a single team. Same with “couple.” But then there are cases where it sounds wrong to say it that way, too — as in, “The team went to Boston to play its first game.” That kind of feels to me like it should be “their game.” But, then, if grammar were based completely on intuition, what a messy language this would be. Oh, wait . . . .

    BTW Dave — I think I remember Darla at The Daily Universe saying it should be singular — do you remember anything about that?

    Comment by Karalyn on September 4, 2004 @ 1:56 pm
  22. I receive my fair share of groans and eye rolls with my attentiveness to proper grammar, punctuation and vocabulary and I’m not even an expert. I’m just a guy who does the best he can to communicate concisely. I truly believe that people should take more pride in how they write and it bothers me to read e-mails that are choppy, poorly spelled and incoherent. As for pet peeves in our language, I get bugged by the little things like when people misuse “your” and “you’re” (sorry. lol) or people who use double negatives in a sentence. I had to learn to chill out because, in my job, I basically spend my entire day reading notes that other people write. One can only imagine the horrific things I’ve read. I liked that comment about irregardless because my father used to say that and I thought he was the only one who did. I’d honestly never heard that word outside of my own house as a kid, so I had to laugh at that one. I’m afraid that I am guilty of the “having said that” phenomenon. It just has a nice ring to it in my opinion and it DOES break up the monotony of the “buts” and “howevers” that I generally hear. One of my greatest pet peeves is the mistake I see most often in our language. Ending a sentence with a preposition is the one mistake I see made time and time again by virtually the entire English-speaking community. It does annoy me, but I also know that sentences may seem to sound more normal when they end in a preposition (i.e.: What are you talking about?). It would just look strange to write, “About what were you speaking?” or “Of what were you speaking?” I’ve learned to accept it. Also, people that use the expression “by and large” What is that? I know why people say it, but it just makes no sense if you give it any thought. Although if people gave their literary efforts any thought, this topic wouldn’t even be up for discussion, would it?

    Comment by WAB on September 17, 2004 @ 3:12 pm
  23. I would have to agree. I’ve noticed that more and more people are misusing certain phrases, but that’s how our language evolves.

    I guess I’m just an old stick in the mud.

    Comment by dan on September 17, 2004 @ 3:39 pm
  24. I continued to be confused by the use of affect and effect, because effect is used both as a noun and a verb in normal writing. I found this explanation quite helpful.

    Comment by dan on December 27, 2004 @ 6:00 pm

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