Plenty not to like about constantly, like, using THAT misplaced word

Chris McGuire says we are, like, using that word too often

Chris McGuire says we are, like, using that word too often - Credit: Archant

There are words we all love and words we all hate. But there's one word that's, like, overused in the English language says Chris McGuire

Simile like you mean it...

Before we start, yes, I am aware that this is going to make me seem like a total grump. That said, I feel I should continue. What's my beef, I hear you cry?

It's simple really, I seem to be surrounded by a world that's lost any ability to communicate without the word: 'like'.

Let me expand.

The word 'like' is one of comparison. It suggests that one thing is similar to, but not the same as, another. Yes, we all know that, but it's important to state at this juncture. For some reason, however, the word 'like' has replaced 'erm' for many as an unconscious way of punctuating sentences.

As such - and my English teacher would be proud of me for this - we're living in a world of similes.

Most Read

"He was, like, so mad," someone said to me today. A statement that means, 'he' was similar to being 'so mad', but wasn't. I don't think that's what they meant.

"The soup was, like, so fishy." Which means, if 'so fishy' is the maximum fishiness we can expect from a soup, that the meal in question was close to that - but not quite.

"She was, like, a headmistress." Which means she's similar to a headmistress, but not quite. Could she have been a deputy headmistress?

Yes, I know I'm being a total pedant, but, for me, words matter. Small imprecisions in language have a big meaning. For example, if I was a 'total pendent' I'd be an item of jewellery, not someone moaning about language.

I can, as I type, sense the increased scrutiny of readers searching this piece for any grammatical or linguistic errors that'll make me seem a hypocrite. They're probably there, I'm no genius, just someone who doesn't like, 'like'.

Please forgive me for my grumpiness, but, for me, words like 'like' used in the wrong context are similar to finger nails being run down a chalkboard. And don't get me started on 'literally'.

"And he literally said to me..." How else is he supposed to speak to you? Figuratively? Through the medium of dance? If someone says or does something, we take it as a given that the action literally occurred. Well, I do, at least.

"I'm not being funny but..." Yes, I'm aware many of you will see 'not being funny' as a major element in this column. Sorry about that. It's just, for most of us, we're happy to make up our own mind whether something is funny or not - we don't need to be told in advance that something isn't. The irony being this phrase seems to most frequently come from those who aren't, as a rule, funny. It's like a tone deaf friend announcing that they're about to sing out of tune. It's unnecessary, we've heard them sing before and figured that one out for ourselves.

Where am I going with all this?

I'm just testing the waters really, before I start a nationwide campaign to ban the word 'like'. What do you think? Will you join the movement? I'm planning to start with a big post on social media, it's sure to get thousands of likes.

Oh. I didn't think that one through...

Chris McGuire is a writer and stay at home dad. Follow him on Twitter @McGuireski