Green blueberry

In one of this week’s classes, I asked the icebreaker question “What word or phrase do you overuse,” and while “awesome” was my official answer, I now realize “like” is a close runner-up.

Last semester, I casually mentioned my fondness for the word “awesome.” One of my students made note of this, and whenever I’d subsequently say “awesome” in class–which was often–she would either repeat the word back to me (“Awesome!”), or she would look at me with a raised eyebrow.

There’s nothing like a student parroting your linguistic quirks to make you realize how often you use a particular word.

This week, several of my students listed “like” as their most overused word, up there with “right” and “bruh” and “okay.” And I was, like, a bit surprised because I always thought “like” was, like, a remnant from being a teenager in the Valley Girl ‘80s.

It turns out the linguistic quirks of Gen Xers live on, bleeding into the speech patterns of both Millenials and Gen Z. Now I’m noticing how often I say “like” when I’m lecturing: it’s, like, a constant verbal tic. Turns out “Awesome” is the least of my worries.