18 Most Useless Words in the English Language

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By Darryl Henderson

Language allows us to communicate effectively with other people, acting as a bridge between different cultures and people. However, there are some words in the English language that have no purpose. Here are 18 of the most useless words found in the English language.


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The word “literally” is normally used by people for exaggeration purposes. Although its original meaning refers to “in a literal manner,” The Guardian notes that “literally” has been playfully abused since the time of Walter Scott. Nowadays, it is misused to mean “figuratively.”


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“Irregardless” is a nonstandard word often confused with “regardless.” The problem with using this word is that it fuses together “irrespective” and “regardless” which actually makes no sense when it is used. As a result, it is widely denounced by language experts and grammarians.


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Using the word “actually” excessively adds no value to a conversation. As it is deemed a filler word, it can make someone sound uneducated. Although its original purpose was to assert a fact, it is now used widely in contexts where it is not needed.


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“Just” frequently pops up in sentences such as “I’m just saying” in order to minimize or soften statements. Yet, in many conversations, it can have the opposite effect as it can weaken the impact of a statement. It is overused in casual conversation and writing.


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Although “very” was once seen as a way to capture the gravity of a situation or to add emphasis, over time, this word has become oversaturated. This is why many people who want to intensify adjectives are choosing to opt for stronger adjectives.


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“Like” is a common filler word used frequently in casual conversation. Overusing this word can make speech sound unprofessional or immature as well as convey hesitation. As the New York Times states, the usage of “like” reflects some kind of epidemic of uncertainty among young people.


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Saying “whatever” can come across as juvenile or even disrespectful. It adds no real meaning to a conversation as it doesn’t resolve anything. It is also not seen as productive for a conversation as it creates an ending without giving an indication of where the conversation will go next.


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This word is regarded as overused today. It was once seen as a way to convey a sense of awe. However, now it is overused by people who want to describe anything that is mildly good. In this sense, it has become a cliché in both spoken and written language.


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Partially because there aren’t many other words that have the same meaning as “unique,” many individuals have begun to apply it to things that don’t match its meaning. Intended to describe something as one-of-a-kind, it has now been used to describe things that are rare, making them useless.


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In modern society, “stuff” is regarded as vague and non-specific. Because this word lacks clarity, it is used when a person is unsure or lazy. Instead of pointing out something specific, the word “stuff” makes a sweeping statement which is useless for the listener who can’t grasp what they mean.


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“Totally” is normally associated with the American language or younger individuals. The Independent notes that the act of typing on to screens is a dominant form of verbal interaction today. Many people have adopted the word “totally” from texting language, making it informal and redundant when used with strong statements.


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Similar to “stuff,” the word “thing” has no real purpose in spoken and written language. While the listener can get a general sense of what the speaker means, it is usually used as an umbrella term, as it does not contain specific nouns that could clarify the statement.


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The term “basically” is often used as a filler in conversations, similar to “um,” “like,” or “actually.” It can simplify complex explanations or emphasize the core nature of a statement. However, its overuse can lead to redundancy, as it may not add extra meaning to the sentence.


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“Honestly” is a term used to show sincerity or truthfulness. It’s often used when saying something that might be hard to express, showing that the speaker is being open. But, if overused, it can lose its effect and might make listeners question the speaker’s sincerity in other statements.


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Usually used by someone when they want to agree with another person, the word “absolutely” may seem like it has a purpose. Yet, it can weaken a statement if it is overused. It gives no clear direction to the listener as to why you agree with someone.


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The term “obviously” can sometimes be interpreted as belittling, patronizing, or demeaning. It’s frequently used in situations where the clarity of the subject is already apparent, making its usage redundant. It contributes minimally to the overall message and can be viewed as impolite.


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“Really” is intended to emphasize a point, but it has become known as a filler word, making you sound unsure or hesitant. According to the Harvard Business Review, to sound confident, eliminate filler words, take time to pause before important messages, and vary your pace.


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For those who want to sound confident when they speak, using “somewhat” is completely useless. This is because it implies uncertainty or lack of commitment. As it is implicated to hedge statements, it is not assertive in the slightest, making you sound insecure.

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