Netizen Selects Top Ten Most Annoying Chinese Phrases


Not only derogatory terms irritate people. Phrases that are too often heard or spoken can drive listeners nuts too. Different cultures and languages may have different “most hated words” according to situations. Researchers at Oxford University drew up a list they found annoying in spoken English and the top ten offenders are:

1 – At the end of the day

We use this expression before we say what we believe to be the most important fact of a situation. In conclusion and when all is said and done have the same meaning.

2 – Fairly unique

This is an example of an oxymoron – two words used together which have, or seem to have, opposite meanings. If something is unique it is the only one of its type, therefore something can be ‘unique’ or ‘not unique’; it can not be fairly unique.

3 – I personally

People find this phrase annoying because I and personally have the same meaning. When we use I there is no real need to use personally. I is personal.

4 – At this moment in time

This expression simply means now or at the moment. It is felt that this expression is used to much and overblown – longer or more impressive than it should be.

5 – With all due respect

We use this expression before we say something impolite or before we disagree. Many people dislike this phrase because they feel that it makes it OK to be rude to someone if we use this expression first. Although we say we respect someone in the phrase, we then say something which is not respectful.

6 – Absolutely

This word is an adverb which means ‘very’ or ‘completely’ – The film was absolutely wonderful. People find absolutely annoying when it is used to mean yes or I agree.

7 – It’s a nightmare

A nightmare is a very scary dream you have when sleeping. It’s a nightmare is an idiom which means ‘a very bad event or experience.’ It is felt that people use this expression too much in spoken English.

8 – Shouldn’t of

We use this expression to express regret about something we have (or haven’t) done. It is also used to criticize the actions of others. It is not good English – the correct expression is shouldn’t have.

9 – 24/7

This expression refers to 24 hours a day; 7 days a week. It is used to emphasize something that never stops or is continuous. People find this expression annoying because it is office-speak, not always true and the word always is better suited than 24/7.

10 – It’s not rocket science

This expression means ‘It’s not difficult’ – rocket science is difficult; this isn’t. This expression is disliked because it’s a cliché (a comment that is very often made and is therefore not original and not interesting).

With all due respect, American English speakers have different perspectives as always. A recent Marist poll shown the most annoying phrases to Americans are “whatever”, “you know”, “it is what it is”, “anyway” and “at the end of the day” offending.

So what do Chinese people think of offensive phrases at the end of the day? You know, China is a large place and people speak many different dialects so Beijingers may want smack some heads with bricks when they hear the almighty ending “lah” while a southerner may be annoyed by Beijing people’s omnipotent 儿话音 and want them to iron out their tongues. Okay, it’s not politically correct harmonious to say so and I shouldn’t of put southerners and northerners onto such an opposing position since you know every host in CCTV’s talk show wants an adorable Hong Kong/Taiwan tune and I guarantee that you will be recognized as a Japanese with embarrassing fairly unique Chinese accent if you ask roads to a teenager with “小孩” instead of “小孩儿”. Absolutely!


Anyway, a netizen named 恶魔岛1989 on popular Chinese BBS forum NetEase came up with a lovely list of hated terms that had been used 24/7. These phrases are:

1. A daily common phrase: 随便 [whatever]

Ask my wife where to go. “随便~”
Ask my wife what to eat. “随便~”
… “随便~”
At the end I have to decide on everything but she always picks bones from an egg. That really pissed me off!

2. In a supervisor/leader’s speeches: 下面我简单说两句… [Let me phrase it in short…]

Right, in every meeting and ceremony they started with this phrase, “Let me phrase it in short …”. However, your are lucky and should thank for their benefaction if that speech ends within thirty minutes.

3. Restaurant waiters/waitresses: 再等两分钟,马上就好… [Hold on for two more minutes, it’s coming soon…”]

Be prepared to wait for thirty minutes. It’s a nightmare especially in a busy Guangzhou restaurant.

4. Train station broadcasts: 列车晚点,具体到达时间不定… [The train is delayed, specific arrival time uncertain…]

I was upset for every time I listened to such voice in train station’s resting hall. I can bear it once or twice but for so many times? I feel dubious even disgusted.

5. Parents, friends, lovers: 我是为你好… [I am doing this for your own good…]

C’mon! I know you guys wouldn’t kill me but is it necessary to always start speaking with this phrase to make an emphasis?

6. Talent shows: 然后……然后……然后…… [Then…and then…and then…]

This has became a cliché for almost all performer to make themselves innocent no matter they are promoted or eliminated in a competition.

7. Netizens: 我来818:××的那些事 [Let me gossip a little: the thing that happened to XX]

[Commonly used by the “Title Party” 标题党, people who makes posts with sensational titles but lame contents.]

8. Conferences/meetings: 你感觉呢?你认为呢?[How do you feel? What do you think?]

It’s obvious a decision already made by the higher-up but they wouldn’t admit it, always gabble a lot and try to “persuade” us to vote for it [to show the company respects everyone’s opinion]. After half an hour of spouting droplets, they throw out the surprise questions: “What do you feel about it? What do you think?”.

9. Internet post titles: 史上最牛的… [The most niu X in history…]

This is such a time of niubility. Ever since “in history” and “most niu” went popular, a small sheep that eat meat from bones became “the most niubi sheep in history”.

10. People asking for directions: 你好,同志![Hello, comrade!]

For many, “comrade” had already lost its original meaning.

The word comrade 同志, literally means “people with the same spirit, goal, ambition, etc”, was introduced by Sun Yat-sen in the early 20th century to refer to his fellow revolutionists and the word was later borrowed by the Communist Party. At this moment in time, I personally believe people in northern China, government and state-owned enterprises still use it as a formal addressing but in southern China especially Hong Kong/Cantonese/Taiwan it got LGBT content since 1989 when its firstly used with such meaning in a homosexual movie festival in Hong Kong.


Written by Python

Python is an enthusiastic supporter and contributor of chinaSMACK. He used to like writing articles for this blog but currently his interest is more on the software side of this website, i.e., fine-tuning server and database, solving scalability problem and maintaining the server's swift and smooth response.

His goal is to have the server running for continuous 12 months, with over 99.9% uptime and 1000 concurrent connections.

In summary, he is the one who smacks chinaSMACK.


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