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     Verbal tic: A word or phrase that someone frequently says without intending to. – Merriam Webster     

Call them verbal tics or language fads, but if you listen closely, you’ll hear certain words repeated over and over during our public conversation.

One of Sen. John Thune’s favorites: “At the end of the day.”

It means what “in the final analysis” meant 10 years ago.

Here’s presidential candidate John Kasich:

“You know what, at the end of the day, America’s got to work.”

Or Jesse Jackson:  “At the end of the day, we must go forward with hope and not backward by fear and division.”

It’s even caught on in Great Britain. The other night there was a TV special on Big Ben, the bell at Westminster, and a bell maker, Mark Backhouse, of Whitechapel Foundry in London, said this:

“So the bell, at the end of the day, is about 572 pounds (one half million dollars).

Would it have cost less at the start of the day?

Does “at the end of the day” mean “when all is said and done,” or when the day is literally over?

Sometimes, both.

“At the end of the day, the three 18 year olds were all booked on criminal damage and conspiracy,” said Frank Milstead, Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Even U.S. Supreme Court Justices get into the act.

Here is Sandra Day O’Connor: “I’ve always said, at the end of the day, on a legal issue, a wise old woman and a wise old man are going to reach the same conclusion.”

“At the end of the day” apparently has supplanted “whatever” as a ubiquitous part of our language culture. Not that “whatever” has fallen to disuse, but it’s heard less than when Bob Dole was making it famous. The former senator from Kansas spoke the word so often that some give him credit for its popularity.

“A (tax code) can also encourage home ownership, encourage contributions to charities, whatever …,” said Dole, using the word to end a sentence when there was more to say, but indicating that he couldn’t call up the words to complete the thought.

By the way (another popular tic), the all-time verbal tic champion is the word “like.” Young people sprinkle this word liberally, particularly when telling a story.

“Last night I saw this, like, great animated movie, and the best part was, like, when the Japanese teenager, Tetsuo, tried to, like, uncover the real power of the human brain.”


Oct. 21, 2015