f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

December 4, 2005

let’s put an end to “at the end of the day”

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 10:34 pm

I’m achy, fluish and grumpy enough this evening to finally put down
in pixels just how completely annoying and agita-inducing I find the
phrase “at the end of the day.” 

As a regular viewer of Sunday morning talking-head-political shows,  erasingSF
and other interview-oriented presentations, such as, PBS News Hour
and the Charlie Rose Show, I have known for at least a decade that
“at the end of the day” virtually never means “before I go to bed tonight”
or “when the day in question is over.”  Instead, the underlying meaning
is more likely to be:
tiny check  “although I have absolutely no facts or evidence to
back this up . . ” 

tiny check  “contrary to all logic and reason, . . . “

tiny check  “assuming a timeframe in which we are all dead
anyway, . . . “

tiny check  “right after hell freezes over . . . ”  or

tiny check “as the spokesperson for Group/Party X, I’m forced/paid to predict, . . . “
Maybe I’m just out of the main kvetsching loop these days, but I hadn’t
seen or heard others raise this complaint — until the repeated use of the
phrase on ABC This Week by White House Security Advisor Stephen
Hadley drove me to such distraction today that I decided to Google the
cursed cliche.   I have now learned that lots of people hate the use of “at
the end of the day” by politicians (and sports figures).

erasingS    For example, early last year, it was chosen the #1 Most Irritating
phrase in the English language by supporters of Britain’s Plain English Campaign
(“At the end of the day . . . we’re fed up with cliches,” News Release, March
24, 2005)    

Similarly, a history of the term found in GramTime News (Vaxjo [Sweden]
Univ., Jan. 2001, scroll down to Usage question #2), states:
“It should be noted that at the end of the day is one of those
phrases that irritate many people. In particular it also seems
that the phrase is used extremely frequently by British football
players and managers. In fact, as early as 1995 the readers of
the British football magazine When Saturday Comes (WSC 1995:
100) voted at the end of the day to be the most “overused phrase
which should be punished by public flogging.”
The phrase was apparently given its nefarious non-literal sense in Britain and 
spread from there to the United States.   The GramTimes News explains that it
means something like “with everything considered.'”  And says:
The 1995 edition of the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
writes that it is “used to give your opinion after you have discussed all
the possibilities of a situation or problem.” The Oxford English Dictionary
explains the phrase as “when all’s said and done” and its earliest entry
is from 1974.
As late as 1995, the New York Times was still using the phrase rarely, and usually
with its literal meaning.  By then, however, the literal meaning was almost never used
in British publications.  To my dismay — but not to my surprise — the article ends
on this pessimistic note:
“At the end of the day the phrase seems to have a bright future because
highly influential public figures in both Britain and the United States have
adopted it in their speech.”
It has always seemed to me that Republicans began using the dread phrase first 
in America — possibly due to the Reagan-Thatcher connection.   Because so much
Republican and conservative politics is based on ideology, rather than facts or logic,
the phrase “at the end of the day” [like “at the end of days’] becomes a prophecy that
they expect to be taken on faith.   

GramTime News notes a “huge increase” in usage in American English from 1993 –  
1997 — suggesting that the Administration of President Bush #41 may indeed be the
culprit.  The influential figures given as examples as using the phrase by GTN, however,
are Tony Blair and Al Gore.  Nonetheless, it has been Republicans who have triggered my
gag response over the past few years with repetition of “at the end of the day.”   Of
course, my b.s. meter goes off when politicians of every stripe use the phrase.  (Happily,
I don’t watch sport shows and therefore minimize sports-related exposure.)
tiny check   Could it be that “at the end of the day,” being a prediction, was
considered to be less deceptive than old standbys like “at this
moment in time,” which usually signalled a falsehood or
convenient lapse of memory?
After hearing it so often, many Americans now use the phrase “at the end of the day,”
without knowing that it creates great suspicion and irritation.  Please join me in using the
power of weblogs to spread the message.  Perhaps, there will someday be a day, at the
end of which, the phrase will be given back its literal meaning.   We can then go back to
 loathing “at this moment in time” and “my present recollection.”
tiny check  Dec. 13, 2005, is Plain English Day, and the Plain English
Campaign will be announcing its annual awards – for both clear
and baffling use of English.  There are categories for government
and media, along with the Golden Bulls (for gobbledygook) and
Foot in Mouth (for a baffling quote by a public figure).  The  

Plain English Web Award is actually an honor.

tiny check  The latest News Update from Plain English (04 Nov. 2005), tells of
a study out of Princeton that I had missed.  According to its author,
Dr. Daniel Oppenheimer, “writers who use long words needlessly
and choose complicated font styles are seen as less intelligent
than those who stick with basic vocabulary and plain text.” Hmm.

dad’s armchair
hindsight is
      by dagosan    

p.s.  My irritation over this phrase spilled over into my personal senryu weblog this morning — see simply senryu.

honors in Kuamamoto for Roberta Beary

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 3:58 pm

Today, in Kumamoto, Japan, lawyer and haiku poet Roberta Beary

will receive the Kusamakura Taisyo (Grand Prize) in the Foreign Language

contest: “strives to celebrate the novelist and haiku poet Soseki, as well

as to bring awareness of ‘Kumamoto city charm and Haiku to the inter-

national level and further develop Kumamoto’s haiku culture.”


Here is the winning haiku:


  the roses shift
  into shadow




piano keys Roberta sets many moods with her haiku.  The newest edition

of The Heron’s Nest  (VII: 4, Dec. 2005) has this offering:



third blizzard
the untuned piano
middle C


The senryu page of the most-recent edition of Simply Haiku (Winter 2005

also contains a few examples of Roberta’s always-anticipated marital poetry:



wedding rehearsal
she models her new
cup size








ceremony over
the bride unveils
her tattoo








wedding night
she surrenders
her green card




Whether Roberta Beary is evoking a sigh, a hush or a smile,   

we’re much honored to have her work gracing this website.




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