6 Overused Phrases It's Time to Retire

#3. "Metric Butt-Ton"

"Metric butt-ton" is a quantity meaning "lots." The phrase plays on the well-known facts that tons are big, metric tons are bigger still, and a ton made entirely of butts is so big, and round, and out there. It's, like, gross.

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Other brothers can't deny the possibility of getting sprung.

I did a bit of (hilarious) research into this one, but couldn't really figure out where it originated. "Butt" is an archaic unit of measurement used for wines and liquors, and there's some indication that "buttload" was used non-hilariously in this sense back in ye olde times, but I find it pretty far-fetched that our current usage derives from that. Basically I think someone added "butt" to an existing word because it sounded funnier.

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"Wait. Oh my God, that works."

But now it's mainly used by people who want people to think they're joking around without having to go to the trouble of thinking up a joke. There are better ways of saying "a lot" out there ("a lot" is a nice one), so if you happen to catch yourself saying "metric butt-ton" in your work (here I'm imagining a poorly received PowerPoint presentation), I'd suggest you pause for a second and put maybe just a butt-smidge more effort into your writing.

#2. Anything 2.0

Numbers are often listed after software names to indicate new, presumably improved versions. The same phrase has also been applied to newly improved things that aren't software products. Got a really great sandwich, better than existing sandwiches? Then say hello to Sando 2.0.

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Which will actually give you pretty bad gas. I'd wait a few months for the first service pack to come out before installing this myself.

By extrapolating back moving averages of weighted chuckle-acceptance curves, linguistic scientists theorize that this must have been clever for about 10 seconds in 1995. One wonders if the venture capitalist who originally thought it up had any idea of the banality he was about to unleash upon the world.

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"Ohhhhhh, that's going to ruin conversations for years, isn't it?"

This particular cliche is even more devastating when you consider how it's used by marketers today. Advertising a new and improved anything with an old and creaky cliche is a pretty great way to demonstrate that you don't understand concepts like "new" and "improved" and that you might not be cut out for a position in "advertising," or really any profession where you can use scissors unsupervised.

#1. "And by 'XX,' I Mean 'YY'"

This is a particularly obnoxious snowclone, the "XX" in this one referring to a mundane description that has just been used, now quickly redefined to be something hilariously insulting. Here's a typical example of this snowclone in the wild:

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"Your muffins were really great! And by 'great' I mean 'gas-inducing.'"


This one seems to be especially popular on the Internet, with Internet funny guys trying to be Internet funny guys. (Private note for the people who are now scouring through all my old columns looking for proof I'm a hypocrite: Yes, I've almost certainly used it. You got me. You win.)

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You are the winner here.

But I'm not proud of it, and I'm certainly not using it anymore. Still, you can sort of see why it became so popular. A large element of humor is surprise -- you set the audience up to think you're saying one thing, and then with a couple words they realize that you were actually saying something else entirely. (It's called the incongruity-resolution theory of humor, and I'd encourage you to read up on it if you're ever interested in reading the driest, crumbliest shit ever written about yuks and laffs.) This cliche fulfills exactly that role, only it does it in the most labored, clumsy way possible. It's the exact opposite of cleverness, the antithesis of humor.

Also, somewhat frighteningly, of all the cliches listed here, it's almost certainly the one I'll forget about and accidentally use myself at some point in the future.

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And by "the future," I mean-

Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist and the third handsomest man in the world. Join him on Facebook or Twitter to beg and plead for selfies.

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