Join Larry Mendte’s Verbiage Vigilante Group

What overused words and hackneyed phrases are ruining the English language?

It is becoming more and more apparent to me that we need language police. And not just for the people who curse aloud in public, although I am all for public mouth washings (with soap) for those people. Think of the money the city could make in pay-per-view alone. No, I am suggesting laws and enforcement for the people who overuse, abuse and misuse hackneyed expressions, words and phrases.

But since there is no public funding for such an endeavor, I have put together a verbiage vigilante group with my video commentaries that air on TV stations across the country. Now I am recruiting you to join me in putting together a list of words and phrases that have got to go.

The first overused and misused word I nominate for the vocabulary trash heap is “whatever,” often said emphatically with a sharp separation between the two syllables and an obnoxious overemphasis on the last “r,” as in “what-eveRRR!” I detest that dismissive, rude semantic surrender. And that is exactly what it is: surrender. People seem to resort to it when they can’t come up with a clever comeback in a debate or an argument. It’s not far up the word food chain from a grunt.

What is the expiration date on “whatever” as an unresponsive response? These idiotic idioms rise and fall out of favor like pop bands. “Whatever” should have been discarded a long time ago along with the equally rude “talk to the hand.” That phrase was hip for about a weekend.

I should point out here that my 27-year-old son Jonathan, who works for Apple and writes rap music and so is by extension very hip, has informed me that anyone who uses the word “hip” isn’t. Fair enough. We’ll throw out “hip” too. From this moment forward “hip” shall not be used unless you are Beyonce or you fall and break one.

Everyone seems to have their own rules. For instance, I think if you are over 50 you should not start any sentence with the word “dude.” “Dude” should have an age restriction.

I would be for giving everyone in my vigilante group little electrical shockers so that when someone violates one of our language rules we can let them feel the same shock to our senses we feel from their vernacular violation. I would be using my buzzer every time someone used the grammatical mutation “like” as a verbal space holder. I am, like, so mad and if I, like, run into another person who, like, maligns that word I will be, like, “You are, like, so annoying.”

So far the response to my request for some language cleansing has been overwhelming, and my group of language guardian angels is growing. If you have a suggestion, comment below and I will add it to the list.

Together we can clean up the language. Peace out. (Sorry. We’ll toss that one too.)

LARRY MENDTE writes for The Philly Post every Thursday. See his previous columns here. To watch his video commentaries, go to