What are the most annoying platitudes?

Sometimes when people are trying to be helpful, all they can think to say is a platitude. Often this has the effect of making people feel worse, not better. Here’s a list of the most annoying platitudes people say. 

It’s true that technically some of these are cliches, others are aphorisms, but they’re all used for similar reasons and can be equally irritating. It’s interesting to note how many of them conflict with each other.

  • There’s no I in Team (what about healthy teams that appreciate constructive individuality?)
  • Good things come to those who wait
  • It was meant to be (then why did we bother trying to make it not be?)
  • The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results (sometimes you have to do the same exact thing many times to get the result you want – it’s called practice)
  • Time heals all wounds (how about losing a limb?)
  • Such is life
  • Forgive and forget
  • Everything happens for a reason (including suffering and early death?)
  • People are our most important asset
  • It is what it is
  • What the mind can conceive, it can achieve
  • Winners never quit
  • What doesn’t kill me will only make me stronger
  • I don’t want a team of champions, I want a champion team. (Note that there is an I in “champion team”)
  • Teamwork to make the Dream work
  • “C’est la vie”
  • Hard work always pays off
  • God has a plan for you
  • Great minds think alike
  • Money can’t buy happiness
  • Live each moment like it’s your last (not very pleasant)
  • If at first you don’t succeed, try try again (maybe you should try elsewhere)
  • Follow your passion
  • Follow your bliss (what if mine is cocaine?)
  • That’s just my personal opinion
  • Let’s not reinvent the wheel
  • It’s not rocket science
  • It’s all good
  • What goes up, goes down
  • After the storm the sun will shine
  • Don’t assume – it makes an ASS out of U and ME
  • Don’t be sad because it’s over, be glad that it happened
  • Love means never having to say you’re sorry (Then please don’t love me)
  • We are where we are
  • What goes around comes around
  • What’s done is done
  • Waste not want not
  • It has to be somewhere (as if this helps you find something that’s lost)
  • Nice guys finish last
  • Go with the flow
  • Only dead fish go with the flow
  • No offense, but…
  • Rome wasn’t built in a day
  • Work smarter, not harder
  • There’s no I in team
  • Life doesn’t give you things you can’t handle (depends on what life gives you, doesn’t it?)
  • You’re as young as you feel
  • Age is just a number
  • It’s just software
  • We’re all in this together
  • Everything always works out in the end
  • Time heals all wounds
  • We’ll all be laughing about this soon
  • It’s doesn’t matter if you win or lose, only that you try
  • Tomorrow is another day
  • It could be worse
  • You are what you eat
  • It’s neither here nor there
  • Think outside the box
  • It will all look better in the morning
  • Take the lemons and make lemonade
  • The best things in life are free
  • It wasn’t meant to be
  • Better to have loved and lost…
  • That’s for me to know and you to find out
  • Better late than never
  • With all due respect
  • The road to hell is paved with good intentions (so I should have bad intentions then? is that how the road to heaven is paved?)
  • Gossip is the devil’s radio
  • Laugh and the world laughs with you
  • People regret the things they didn’t do
  • Beauty is only skin deep
  • You can’t judge a book by it’s cover
  • Work hard, play hard
  • Only the good die young
  • All’s fair in love and war
  • All men are created equal
  • There are plenty more fish in the sea
  • The more things change, the more they stay the same
  • It’s the darkest just before dawn (have you seen a dawn?)
  • Fail harder
  • Perception is reality (except when your perception is very bad)
  • you can be anything that you want to be
  • Patience is a virtue
  • I’m sorry that’s not what you want to hear
  • This will hurt me more than it hurts you (well lets switch places and find out)
  • The customer is always right
  • If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen (maybe we can make the kitchen better?)
  • Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm
  • Be careful what you wish for
  • With great power comes great responsibility
  • Just think about how much worse other people have it
  • God never gives us more than we can bear (see death, misery, history of suffering)

What comes to mind? Leave a comment (240+ already have below). Thanks.

507 Responses to “What are the most annoying platitudes?”

  1. kim

    I hate it when people use platitudes on me as much as the next person. Especially when I feel really down. So I don’t use them on other people. But I use them on myself quite often when I’m in a bad place but trying to get out of it. If I really feel it, and it succinctly describes how I feel, then I use it.

    “That which does not kill you only makes you stronger,” is one i use quite frequently to describe myself when someone comments on the horrific things that have happened to me in the past. And if someone asks why I keep cooking a meal that wasn’t that great the last time I cooked it (not the definition of insanity because I change an ingredient or two every time :P), then I’ll say “If at first you don’t succeed…” It will often make one of my long stories short, which most people really want.

    Bottom line: if the platitude fits, wear it! (I really hate that one!)

  2. Frank Farina

    What about platitudes couched as key learning outcomes in the typical liberal arts curriculum justification? for example, ‘education focused by engagement with big questions, both contemporary or enduring’? or, ‘civic knowledge and engagement at the local and global level’? or a wheel of outcomes-curriculum-pedagogy-assessment-outcomes-etc.

    1. Graeme Land

      As someone who spent (too) many years lecturing in HE in the UK I went through all the fads and fashions, at one point, (I think it is still the case) we had to list our learning outcomes for the module we were teaching. Mine was: The student will know a great deal more about this subject than before they took this module, a) provided they attend regularly, b) contribute in seminars regularly and c) read at least some of the essential reading list……..otherwise they won’t achieve their learning outcomes and will fail the module! Needless to say I was asked to re-write it!

    1. 31mcduder

      “The heart wants what it wants.”

      Was it Woody Allen or Ted Bundy that said that?

  3. Avron

    Practice makes perfect!

    Nonsense. Practice makes better!!

    1. Cheryl

      ^^^ and bad practice only reinforces bad habits!

  4. Scott Berkun

    “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” ~George Eliot

  5. Jon Heider

    “Life isn’t fair.” and “It’s a cold, cruel world.” True, but sometimes I think people use these facts as excuses to be lazy and complacent and not do what they can to make the world a better place.

  6. Kirk Nyman

    I’m agreed that there are many annoying platitudes that I avoid but many of those examples I use from time to time when the circumstance seems appropriate and I feel it’s true.

    1. Kestrel Thwaite

      Pick yourself up by your bootstraps.

  7. Gordon

    “They are in a better place.”

    My child died and people said this to me. Better than being with me?

  8. Bish

    “Time heals all wounds (how about losing a limb)?”

    Well, the wound would eventually heal. The platitude doesn’t say anything about getting back what you lost.

    On a side note, the “customer is always right” one is my least favorite on the list D: D: D: jbaeja;ifaj;lkeja; whoever came up with that one clearly has never worked retail XD

    1. Richard Anthony

      “Time heals all wounds,” says the axiom; but a punster may retort, “Time wounds all heels.”

  9. Tim_S

    “Computers never make mistakes.” (So…. if a computer glitch changes the expected output, how is that different from a person who makes a mistake due to a short-term brain malfunction?)
    “History Repeats Itself” (An illogical variation of “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.”)
    “It says so in the bible” (especially annoying when the quote preceding this comes from Shakespeare or some other philosophical work other than the bible)

    1. Kestrel Thwaite

      Art imitates life. And reverse.

  10. Donna

    Insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting different results…..This is not a platitude in my opinon. The explanation cited does not fit the definition…..Practice means you do the same thing over to achieve the same results…..not EXPECTING different results.

    1. wafflekoala

      You don’t practise expecting to get worse or stay just as good as you are today. Getting better at something can often be unexpected. Not only in the rate of improvement, but the moment of improvement.

      Has anything ever “clicked”? By that I mean suddenly became clear or felt right? We can hope to get better, but no matter how hard I try, I may never be able to be a chess master.

      I can practise and expect a different result tomorrow, that doesn’t mean it will or won’t happen, but I can expect a different result and be disappointed.

      “I thought I’d be better at this by now, I’ve been practising for years!” can be said by someone learning to play an instrument for instance. That sentence implies expecting a different result from the same actions.

      Which means you do, in fact, practise expecting different results, which in turn means that the definition of insanity is not “doing the same thing over and over expecting different results”.

      Thus, the statement is a platitude.

      1. RobK

        No, I agree with Donna. That original statement is really about being unwilling to change practices, not about ‘practice’. It’s also nothing like a literal statement; I think it better described as “…insanity is attempting to achieve a different outcome without altering your method”.

        I think it works better in a social context. The outcome of practice through repetition is improvement in quality, competence and ability, though the result is still the same. Thus, not a platitude.

        1. Jack

          What bugs me about this saying is that the true definition of insanity has nothing to do doing the same thing over and over. It’s annoying and misleading. Insanity is actually on a far different spectrum than merely doing the same thing over.

  11. Helena

    To me, and every other divorcee, “At least you have the kids.” NOOOO. I still have to deal with my kids’ father. I woulda had kids with someone else, not THESE kids but still. No to “At least you have the kids.”

  12. Richard Anthony

    A very nice list, which contains some good old saws I never heard before. If you’re into such linguistic twists–and turns of phrase–check out “Would You Mind Repeating That?”–a new compendium of more than 15,000 well-known and oft-used expressions, most of which will be familiar to you but probably some that will be new in your lexicon and ready to go “trippingly on the tongue”: amzn.to/1DAtTvo

  13. pepe nero

    Well, after all is said and done, and the dots connected, the bottom line is that platitudes and related-suck.

  14. Linda

    My husband just died, and a good friend said, “When god shuts a door, he opens a window.” What does that even mean?

    1. June

      Linda, I don’t know what that’s supposed to be saying but I don’t think that would have provided much comfort in your situation! I hope you are healing.

    2. RJ

      I don’t mean to disrespect anyone but the cliche annoys the heck out of me. I my mind though when God shuts a door God shuts it because we have offended God. And God opens that window to give us the free will to jump out of it. The ultimate sin of self-murder is nothing compared to the sin which landed us in this hell on earth.

      When my mother died in 2006 (10 years ago this May 21st.) I was alone in the world with mental illness, and all I have done is screw up. I get cliches all the time. like “your time hasn’t come yet” “the sun will come out tomorrow” and the real kicker “you have to love yourself before anyone can be expected to love you.”

      Thing is God allowed the mental illness to come into my life, God can only take it away. But the fact that I am 56 and falling apart and everyone tells me I am still “young” bugs me too.

      I feel for anyone who has lost a loved one, a loved mother, father, brother, sister, husband, wife or significant other. But I am just saying is that life is that vale of tears one prayer in the Catholic lexicon gets right. Buddha tells us Life is suffering if we are not on the path to enlightenment. Who among is on that path? Only it seems the great souls like Merton and Gandhi. Life is suffering because we let it cause us suffering but no one is telling any of us what the secret of letting go is.

      They just say let go and let God as if that is possible or this too shall pass. What worse is that in the midst of angst and loss someone tells us that we’ll be okay.

      Fact is it never stops hurting. And if God really does love us as Jesus said, why is there so much suffering in the world? And why do innocent and good people die before their time?

      I give up.

      1. Kat B

        Please don’t give up! Just try to seek out and surround yourself with compassion

  15. Eli

    How you do anything is how you do everything.

    I shudder to think what life would be like if that were true!

    1. Kestrel Thwaite

      Core values stemming from one’s inner self will impress all gestures or action. O boy, is that a platitude?
      Reminds me of art speak blather as example ~ ” Artistic expression is INFORMED by experience.” It’s that word ~ informed that gives me the gears..

  16. Henry

    Read between the lines. (…and in my opinion you get nothing.)

  17. David Peterson

    All men ARE created equal. This is one of the greatest ideas ever penned by human beings. As a toss away line, I suppose it could be considered a platitude. But people should embrace it and discuss it forever more.

  18. Mary Mench

    I hate hearing or saying “hang on there”. It just annoys me, and really, often there is no other option so you just do it. (hang in there)

    1. manny

      One might as well say : Hang UP there, huh ?

  19. Cage

    “I’ll pray for you”…and… “God bless you.”

    At funerals I hate hearing, “They’re in a better place” and “God needed another angel” or “God has a plan” and don’t forget “They’re still with us.”

    …Seriously? Prove it!

    1. manny

      MWAHAHAHAHAHA. I’m in stitches ! You’re something else Cage. I haven’t laughed so long and so hard in years.

      ” They’re still with us ”

      ” Seriously, PROVE IT ”


    2. Wink Knudge

      The concept of afterlife is the driving attraction of organized religion, to make people feel better about the eventual certainty of death.
      “He’s in a better place”, while generally not a truth, is probably preferable than “Sucks to be him.” You’d likely hate hearing that more, so that’s the “lesser of two evils” thing.

    3. Kestrel Thwaite

      Again, storytelling as a way to ‘explain’ away loss and finality of death.. A denial of truth by imagining fairyland where sunbeams lay golden upon white fluffy clouds. But, dogs go to heaven? ( or p’raps hell for ‘bad’ dogs )

  20. Scott

    “Love it or leave”. (An Australian favourite)

  21. Betty

    “Perception is reality.” “Life is what you make it.” These folks must live in a very safe protected environment…no murderers, floods, war, earthquakes, market crashes, etc…With no concern, compassion or reason to respond to the pain of others around them. They think that if victims of violence and greed would just look at things differently the difficulty would not be real and that “What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger” therefore no response is required.

  22. Laura II

    I just love this thread, and thank all who contributed, and of course the host.

    1. Kestrel Thwaite

      Agreed, however there is a residue of annoyance! ( realising how vacuous, meaningless these phrases are, as a replacement for truths.) Why does humanity prefer fakery to difficult honesty.

  23. Scott

    As a self proclaimed overworked teenager I would often tell my Dad “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” and he would respond with “All work and no play makes Jack”. I actually like that one. It still makes me smile 50 years later.

    1. Taylor

      That’s a good one, if it was supposed to be “All play and no work makes Jack.” ?

  24. David

    So in other words don’t say anything if it isn’t original and don’t want to get into a conversation.

  25. 31mcduder

    “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results (sometimes you have to do the same exact thing many times to get the result you want – it’s called practice)”

    But “practice” involves doing a thing differently in small increments, fine tuning, until you get the result you want.
    If at first you missed a target, but later hit it consistently, you’re probably doing something a little different, not exactly the same.

  26. Scott Berkun

    “Stand in your power.”
    “Be true to yourself.”
    “Be authentic.”
    “Be who you are.”
    “Always give back.”
    “Know your audience.”
    “Speak from the heart.”

    1. Kestrel Thwaite

      Time for another cup of fair trade, organic coffee. ( antidote to that trite miasma )

  27. Barbara Drewry

    I really don’t like hearing people say, “At least they are in a better place” when someone dies. The MAIN reason I dislike it is because it’s just NOT necessarily so. :-/

  28. Lauren

    I’ve had a really difficult life and I’ve heard a million of these idiotic comments. Of course, there’s the opposite, stupid thing that make things much worse. My son had just attempted suicide and he was in ICU dying. Someone says, “You know, he’s going to hell.” So I replied, “I think mean-spirited people who says things like that are going to hell.” I often think about my son when people say, “God never sends you more than you can handle.” It certainly sent him more than he could handle. Anyway, the dead can’t speak.
    Maybe stupid sayings are like snapping a rubber band when you think “bad thougts” — it momentarily disengages your brain — and the pain of thinking actual thoughts like, “I’m feel really helpless and frustrated — and I have no real answers. I’m sorry.”

  29. DF

    A platitude is simply a verbose way of saying “I don’t know what to say”

    1. Donna

      I agree. Sometimes there just ISN’T anything to say, and not all of us are brilliant enough to come up with something no one has ever said before. So should we all just stand around mute at a wake, or should we say what we really think, “OMG I’m so bored. When can we leave??” or “I never liked him when he was alive; why should I act like I’m sad he’s dead?”

    2. Kestrel Thwaite

      Silence is golden.

  30. Donna

    Not really a platitude, more of a cliche, but I’m really sick of hearing it… “At the end of the day…”

  31. Richard Bernal

    If there’s anything I can do just ask.


    I will be forever grateful.

  32. George Langley

    Only the strong survive. If you know of a place where that is true…Don’t go there!

    1. Kestrel Thwaite

      The strong and cunning. Fleet, fast, agile and so on…( evolutionary survival traits )

  33. christine clayworth

    “God rarely gives people more than they can handle?

    Then how do you explain suicide, which is almost an epidemic?

    1. Diana

      Exactly, I hate that one. The only morons who say that are people that have never had something horrible happen to them. It’s like everything “happens for a reason” stupid.

  34. jen

    The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

  35. Ivor

    You can’t keep a good man down.

  36. Ellen

    I have heard a few cliches at work. Work smarter, not harder.

    Another one I would like to add is “Things are only going to get worse.” I have heard that one both at work and it the everyday world. Sometimes the most obvious solution is not seen by those who are in charge.

    Other platitudes are “there are two sides of the coin”, and “look at it from the other person’s perspective”.

    1. Anna

      Some of the phrases I’ve read here aren’t platitudes, however irritating they may be. Some may be metaphors or ‘sayings’ which are intended to convey an idea or visual image. Some may be gobbledegook or just obvious nonsense. True platitudes-with which this site is blissfully stuffed- have an initial ring of conveying something erudite but on closer scrutiny are completely vacuous. Many have a ‘spiritual’ veneer to give them added authenticity. The commentaries here are fascinating; do platitudes fill a silence when one can’t think of anything intelligent or supportive to say? Possibly but the negative effects on the recipient who invariably knows they are being fobbed off with a platitude or worse, in my view, doesn’t justify their (or any of the other silly phrases people come out with) use on any occasion. And there’s a huge proliferation of these faux gems of thoughtful advice on FB as people spread the most awful platitudinous bullshit under the guise of encouraging one to live a better life.

      1. Kestrel Thwaite

        ” god,.. what god… ” Quote in ” A Month In The Country “. Colin Firth character, emotionally damaged soldier returned to Britain after fighting in France in WW1.

  37. Ellen

    Another one that I thought of is “Welcome to my world.”

  38. Alan

    The empty platitude statements organisations release when a tragedy happens and someone loses their life.

  39. N. Gladstein

    1. “Thoughts & prayers” – the #1 generic statement shared by anyone in the public eye (celebs, politicians, etc.) in response to tragedy.
    2. “Make America Great Again” – this one belongs on the trash heap of discarded platitudes that are no longer used, & pry never should have been.. But I fear it’s here to stay for a while.

    1. Kestrel Thwaite

      Your number 2 phrase was actually taken to the copyright office and registered by a guy in politics.

  40. Michele

    This too shall pass.

  41. Nelson

    Hello! I was told- a few days ago;by someone[in an attempt to be ~erudite~] that;
    “…In general conversation-a platitude;is used as a queue to point out;that
    a subject has room for further discussion ! [“She took debate and so, she’d like me to know that,as: she knows.”] It came from a person who has
    a tendency-to hang-up the phone ;before she blows up;or if she can’t steam-roller over what you are trying to convey.@ those junctures[in this relationship,]she
    will often used a platitude. I pointed out that;we should start defining our terms& that I thought the platitude , is just a fancy way of forcing an opinion-through ambiguity and ending all hope of discussing anything further. .. [ ~~~She ;Hung-upon me.] Next day;I meekly asked to “Start-over” as I didn’t [yet again-] want this to stymy 10 years of some, also,very nice talks. I told her that;Since I was not into hanging -up on people;that-we should agree never to do that; from there on ,so-we ~did~ agree to that. Next day ;she started a shouting match and I said:”Congratulations;You will be the first person I ever hung-up on;[ever!]do you want me to? I could hear her, as she was about to hang-up;I said”Now I know-you can’t keep your promises!” 10 years of platitudes and hanging -up;down the drain ! Nothing ever got solved on her part, about anything. She was a “Good Listener.”@ times she’s implied I’m meglomaniac ~~~~~Almost Always~in my experience;a person will start throwing in the platitude-to convey they are bored with a topic and to shut it down,so when I hear them ; I usually think;they are giving me the brush or claiming superior knowledge on a subject, &when questioned further will not reveal great insight, but a short fuse and bad temper. Some people never have learned to converse-even if they;”Took a class.”

  42. Joshua Oliver

    “Rome wasn’t built in a day” is a great one that applies to MANY situations. I love it.

    1. Kestrel Thwaite

      ” when in Rome “

  43. Randy.

    You have to make hay while the sun goes s shining!



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