The comment, popularised by sullen teens, was judged more grating than "anyway" and less tolerable than phrases including "it is what it is" and "you know".
"The impetus of this poll was a casual conversation where we started discussing those words that get on your nerves. You hear them over and over again," explained Mary Azzoli, director of media for Marist, a US college which conducted the research among 938 adults.
Nearly 50 per cent of people questioned said "whatever" was the word that bothered them the most. It was the most irritating word in all regions of the country, and among both sexes, all age groups, educational levels and income brackets.
"It is used so often in terms of casual conversation. Also, when you think of the meaning behind it, it is often a way to dismiss someone. It is irritating in that regard. It is much more off-putting compared to any of the other statement we asked," she added.
A quarter of people selected "you know" as the phrase they would like to ban most from the English language. Eleven per cent simply could not tolerate "it is what it is," while seven per cent found "anyway" irksome. ...