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Modern Dictionary

Modern Dictionary

The true meaning will follow the phrase or word:


  • My bad: I’m too insecure to apologize, so I’m saying this to acknowledge your unhappiness without admitting an error.
  • What is, is: I’m not deep enough to understand what’s going on and choose not to try to learn, so I’ll simply acknowledge there is an issue and move on.
  • You’re too judgmental: I don’t like your opinion but I’m incapable of presenting facts or examples to counter it, so I’ll simply blame your ability to have an opinion, as if it’s an unattractive trait, and as if we’re all not making judgments all day long in order to live.
  • They are punching above their weight: While I’m publicly admiring your effort, I can’t completely hide my feelings that you’re lucky and otherwise incapable of this level of performance continually.
  • Awesome!: I’m acknowledging something positive but don’t have the vocabulary or nuance to actually describe it appropriately.
  • Whatever: See “what is, is” above.
  • GOAT (greatest of all time): Used presumably for great athletes, it will become the equivalent of “awesome,” above. The only two living athletes I know worthy of this acronym are Sandy Koufax and Tom Brady.
  • #(hashtag)anything: An attempt to go viral with just about any subject, from the worthy (disease research fundraising) to the absurd (plunging into frigid water in the winter). It is also used to create “tag spam” when people try to draw attention to themselves on social media by arbitrarily including others’ names who are more popular than they are. What this really reveals is desperation.
  • Artist: An over-hyped description of performers of all kinds. Today everyone is an artist: heavy metal band members, gymnasts, cheerleader choreographers, critics. You can be superb at your profession but that doesn’t imply “art.” Picasso is rolling in his grave (with more “art” than most claiming the title).
  • There are those who say….: I’m the one saying this but I don’t want a confrontation so I’ll attribute it to nameless others as if I represent their opinion. (Often used by “investigative” reporters.)
  • Safe zone: A physical space in a college where students can take refuge from ideas that their professors don’t agree with and prefer they not be exposed to.
  • Free speech: A guarantee of the American Constitution since subordinated to political correctness.
  • No worries (or no problem): The substitute for “you’re welcome” where the speaker seeks to avoid an inordinate amount of submissiveness for indicating that they’re happy to have helped a customer, as if that’s a demeaning position to be in.
  • Back at you: I wasn’t listening and assume you wished me well, so I can’t get in trouble by wishing you the same thing. (I remember once saying “Happy Birthday” to someone, and they said, “Back at you.”
  • That’s All, Folks: The ending of cartoon signed off by Porky Pig, who would be considered unusually articulate and fluent today.
  • Have a nice day: I really don’t care what kind of day you have but this vacuous phrase enables me to end the conversation or transaction with finality while not really expressing any emotion. (It’s the corollary to, “How are you?” as an opening gambit when I really don’t care at all how you are and hope to hell you don’t begin to tell me.)


Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

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