I’m a writer. I work with words. But like anyone else, I also need to use them in everything else I do. Also like everyone else I have particular go-to phrases or words to express or indicate certain concepts and feelings. That isn’t to say I never use alternatives, because I do. Yet everyday speech is not the same as one’s writing. At least it shouldn’t be. I got to thinking about my own go-to phrases-ones that I either use everyday, or ones that I always use in a specific circumstance. I’ve compiled a list of 16 of my go-to expressions.
The list is of course not exhaustive. And as you will see, most of the phrases are not unique, and are in fact commonplace. But the voice of a person is made up not so much of the unusual turns of phrase they employ at times, but of the well used, obvious, simple linguistics they adopt on a daily basis. Any one of these phrases is pretty common. But consider them all together and a pattern emerges that gives one an idea of how I talk in most every day situations.
One also must consider the spin someone may put on a phrase. How it may differ somewhat from the original usage. The context in which one would use a certain word.
Personal language is also about what we don’t say. Some would use “idiot” as I frequently do, but rarely use “moron”, which I hardly ever do. They mean essentially the same thing in modern times…why do I prefer one over the other? Do I even know?
This was a fun exercise for me, and I hope some of you will do it for your own personal language. You can even ask others who know you well what some of your common expressions are.
Now, here are 16 of mine:
Though it technically refers to something that is fake, I tend to use this word a lot to point out something that defies logic or fairness. A lousy waitress expecting a large tip is bogus. Casting your own wife in every show you direct is bogus.
A description of many different types of people. Usually, but not always, some sort of incompetence is present, to which the subject is apparently oblivious.
Technically a cleaner replacement for “asshole”, I don’t see the two words as the same. In short, most jackasses to me are clowns that are also bitter and/or arrogant, but just as incompetent.
I use this one to describe people or situations that are all style and no substance. Or when that is what people expect from me. “Dog and pony show” is also used in similar contexts.
“Well done. There you go. It is what it is.”
All self-explanatory, but I use them on a daily basis, multiple times
Almost exclusively when I want something unpleasant or annoying to cease.
“That’ll do it.”
Very similar to the previous phrase, but totally different context. It means, “It’s completed.” Ironically I use it most often when something long or complicated is over, as opposed to something fast and simple, which is the context most people employ, I think. Usually the first thing I say at the end of a run of a play I’m in.
“I don’t know the answer to that.”
Sounds common and easy enough, but most people would probably just say, “I don’t know”. I do that too, but just as often I use this extended expression.
Probably my deepest insult, at least as it pertains to creative endeavors. Things can be “stupid” and still be funny. There is a certain wit to a type of stupidity. But if I deem something “witless”, I’m saying that it is 100% lacking in redeeming qualities, despite being created by people who ought to be better at what they do. Especially true when it’s abundantly clear that the creator is trying to impress or amuse, or has impressed/amused themselves. Probably what most people would call “retarded”, but I avoid that term, as it’s usually offensive.
On the other side of the spectrum, this is my rarest compliment. The highest praise I can place on a creation. “Perfect” would also be here, but I’m known to use “perfect” sarcastically. I rarely use “magnificent” in such a way. If I am moved, it is usually “magnificent”
“That makes sense.”
My go-to response when literally what someone is saying makes sense to me, but I have no particular response to it.
“Screw that noise.”
“The hell with that,” basically. “Noise” being a term for inconvenient or unpleasant truths and situations. Used to be used in that context decades ago on a regular basis. Making a bit of a come back lately, I think. I saw it from an old TV show years ago, and have used it regularly since. I use the “f word”, but not with this phrase. Has to be “screw”.
“Boot him in the sack.”
Vulgar, yes. But it’s something I’ve found I want to do to guys I detest, but probably don’t belong in jail yet. And yes, its “boot” not “kick” and “sack” not “balls.” Just the way it came about, I guess. i have no equivalent for women I despise, other than perhaps “rip her hair out”, and even that doesn’t carry the same weight.
My preferred expression for rambling or prattling.
So there are 13 of my go-to expressions. What are some of yours?