10 Words So Overused They’ve Become Meaningless

It’s not always easy to understand why certain words and phrases suddenly become ragingly popular. Remember one of 2015’s most popular terms ‘on fleek’? It was hanging around the English language long before it became that irritatingly worn-out term we’ve all come to know (and some of us hate). There are plenty of other words guilty of the same thing. You may not even realise your tendency to use these overused words! Want to see if you’re guilty as charged? Read on to find out some words that are so overused they basically become meaningless.

1. Literally = in a literal manner or sense; exactly.

While literally LITERALLY means ‘in a literal manner’, we tend to use the term pretty loosely (and in a rather non-literal manner). Literally can literally be applied to anything, whether it’s literal or not. Okay, okay, I’ll stop now.

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2. Squad = a small number of soldiers assembled for drill or assigned to a special task.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sick of the word squad. It’s pretty much been demoted to being used as a reference to a group of friends (usually women). If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just Google ‘Taylor Swift squad’ and you’ll get plenty of breathless individuals waxing poetic about squad goals.

3. Bae = Danish word for ‘poop’.

That’s right, don’t go calling your sweetheart your bae while in Denmark because people may look at you a little funny. Seriously though, before bae became popular as the go-to term to use when talking about someone you love, it actually meant ‘before anyone else’.

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4. Awesome = extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring awe.

Brace yourself because this one is going to hurt. Awesome should be reserved for moments where you are in awe or have witnessed something really impressive, but let’s face it, we all are guilty of using this word for pretty much anything, whether it’s impressive of not. Found out your local donut shop is open until 9pm? Awesome. Discovered that your workplace offers free coffee every morning? Also awesome.

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6. Can’t even = to be unable to handle something.

Can’t even is used when someone is having such a hard time that just can’t seem to cope. Here’s to hoping can’t even will ease back into obscurity someday soon, because I can’t even with this phrase anymore.

7. Slay = to kill (a person or animal) in a violent way.

Somehow slay has taken a leave of absence from its usual violent meaning and transformed itself into a word used when someone has reached an admirable level of success. As in, you should scream SLAY!!!! at your BFF when they sign that seven-figure record deal they’ve always wanted.

8. Bye Felicia = saying goodbye to someone named Felicia.

The popularity of this term is particularly mind-boggling, but who am I to stand up to the whims of the ever-powerful internet? In case you haven’t guessed it already, Bye Felicia is an overused term which does not mean saying goodbye to your good friend Felicia. It’s just a tired way of dismissing someone when you’ve had enough of their nonsense.


This doesn’t really qualify as a word which has lost its meaning because, as far as I know, it didn’t really exist a couple years back. Now it’s just an overly-enthusiastic (and overly used) way of saying the word yes. Example of a way you could use two clichéd words in one go: YAAAAAAAAASSSSS SLAY!!!!!!

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10. Shade = comparative darkness and coolness caused by shelter from direct sunlight.

Ready to throw some shade at shade? Good, because this is one word that has been used so much over the last couple years that it is virtually meaningless. In pop culture terminology it’s the act of casually dissing a friend or peer, but I think I’m ready for it to go back to being that nice thing I find when I sit under a leafy tree.

11. Fleek = perfectly groomed eyebrows.

Fleek once had a simple life with a simple meaning. Now it’s tossed around so much no one really knows what it really means. As far as we know, on fleek is used when something is on point or perfectly executed. So, basically anything from those amazing hash browns you ate at Denny’s the other day, to a cool dance move you saw on TV, can be on fleek.

What are some words and phrases you think are overused? What about words that have completely lost, or changed, their meaning? Share some of your favourites (or not so favourites) with us!