Words Parents Say That Make Our Eyes Roll

Ahhh, parents, they try their best. But, if we’re being honest, their best is often just plain bad. We understand, the ravages of time come for everyone. One day, they’re standing atop the pinnacle. They’re cool, they’re young, they’re good looking, and they know what the kids are saying. The next, they’re wearing bargain-priced Wranglers, and we’re staring at them like they’re from another planet.

Sad to say, but nine times out of ten, when parents open their mouths it’s usually nothing but trouble. Sometimes our eyes roll. Other times we cringe. Whether we’re 16 or 36, it’s always the same. Parents are downright embarrassing. And, to add insult to injury, we’ve compiled a list of some of the words our parents say that we hate most. Love you guys!


We’ve all been there. Home for the holidays and out with friends a little too late. Next thing you know, you wake up in the morning, your head feels like an anvil, and there’s a half- eaten Domino’s pizza on the kitchen table. “You were pretty blotto last night,” your mom says. You cringe. It’s not the headache, but instead, you can’t stand your mom’s antiquated lexicon.

Yes, blotto. The word was popularized around the early-1900s, and parents typically use it while attempting to make their adult children ashamed of said children’s behavior. However, unbeknownst to them, the word is only effective at making us chuckle. And, that’s not a bad way to get over a hangover.


So dad is at it again. He’s in the living room trying to put together that new Ikea table. He gets it together, and then calls you over to critique his work. It looks strange. Three of the legs are the same size but the fourth is significantly shorter than the others. “I don’t know,” he says. “Looks a little cattywampus, don’t you think?” You snicker. You’re not trying to make light of his craftsmanship, but it would be a lot easier if he choose commonplace word to describe his Franken-table.

The word cattywampus is old (and pretty funny-sounding too). It’s first recorded use was in the mid-1860s, and like dad’s DIY attitude, the word is a singularly American creation. Parents traditionally use it to describe anything that has gone wrong or awry. However, to those unfamiliar with the term, it sounds as if they’re talking a seriously embarrassing level of gibberish.


You’re young, you’re foolish, and sometimes, you’re just trying to help out. So, in that spirit, when mom asks you to do the wash, you say no problem. You trundle on down to the basement, toss in the whites, then kick up your heels . . . content that you’re a contributing member of the family. Problem is, 40 minutes later, mom shouts up from the basement. “What have you done, you nincompoop?”

You hustle to the basement stairs and see mom standing over a pile of pink laundry like it’s an open casket. Oops. You are feeling a little sheepish, there’s no doubt about that. But, perhaps, you’d be feeling a little more so if mom chose a more current insult.Nincompoop, it’s the oldest of pejoratives. The word was first recorded in the mid-1600s, but we’re still unsure of where it came from. That nincompoop’s provenance is ambiguous is unsurprising considering how silly it sounds coming out of mom’s mouth. Nobody wants to take credit for it.


It’s your cousin’s wedding. You’re out on the dance floor, and you’re really feeling yourself. Your moves are on tonight. You’re doing the cabbage patch. Your robot is locked in. Your moonwalk is on point. The spotlight is on you, and at the height of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” you go for the split. You drop low, and then it happens. Riiipppp. It’s the back end of your new pants, and making matters worse, dad walks over and says, “that’s what you get for hot-dogging it out there.”

Sure, you’re embarrassed. Your pants are torn, but even worse, you’re the catalyst for dad to use one of the silliest phrases around. The term hot-dogging is typically used by parents whenever somebody is showing off. It’s slang, and there’s no definitive record of its origin. To be honest, we’ve never really known what to make of this one. It sounds like a food, yet it’s constructed as a verb?

One thing is certain, though. When hot-dogging comes out of our parents’ mouths, we wish we would have skipped the wedding all together.


It’s family dinner, and your mom cooked baked potatoes. Everything is quiet so you plan on lightening up the mood. You reach over to your brother’s plate and stab his potato, making it do the dance routine from Benny and Joon. You think it’s hilarious, but your mom does not. “Quit playing with your food, and stop acting like a boob,” she yells.

First things first, we’re childish, and for obvious reasons, when a parent says the word boob it makes us giggle. With that out of the way, we’d also like to point out that the term boob is extremely antiquated. It’s an Americanism, and it originated around the the early 1900s from the term booby, which is essentially the same thing. In context, the term boob can sometimes mean foolish. This is interesting because when our parents use it as an insult the only people looking foolish are them.

couch potato

It’s 2pm on a Saturday. You’re bored. There’s nothing to do. So, you fire up the TV, and wouldn’t you know it, today’s your lucky day. There’s a four-hour block of Pawn Stars on the History Channel. You snuggle in, and you’re interested to know just how much those Elvis commemorative plates are going for when you hear it. “Why don’t you stop being such a couch potato and go outside.” You look up and there’s dad leaning against the TV room doorframe.

What year is it, 1980? Well, we wouldn’t blame you for thinking as much because the term couch potato originated in the early to mid-80s. There’s no definitive origin for the phrase, but it’s interesting that it came into usage concurrent with the advent of cable TV. It sounds antiquated because it is, and when dad says it, we wonder if it’s not he who should go outside and see the world.


This one is simple, and we all know why. Chipotle: it’s pronounced “chi-poht-ley.” However, when dad wants to grab a quick bite of fast-food Mexican it always seems to come out “chi-pole-te.” It’s inevitable. It happens every time, and it’s pure and utter gibberish.

Dad isn’t a fluent Spanish speaker, we understand that. But, in our defense we’ve only corrected him every time he says it. So, it stands to reason he’d be able to commit the word chipotle to memory. It’s a spice dad. It’s Mexican in origin, and people have been saying it forever. Learn the word and respect other people’s cultures. Alas, alack we suppose.


Okay, pop quiz! The word gyro, it can be defined as three different things, a gyroscope, a gyrocompass, or a delectable greek sandwich. Which one of these iterations do you think mom and dad are using when they make our skin crawl? If you chose greek sandwich, you’re right (and probably hungry).

Yes, the first two ( pronounced: jahy-ro) mom and dad have mastered, but the third, they absolutely butcher. We’re sure you’re sensing a theme here. Like chipotle above, gyro (pronounced: “jeer-oh) isn’t derived from the English language. It’s Greek, but that’s no excuse. The term has been in use since the 1970s, and the sandwiches themselves have been around even longer. Mom and dad really need to get it together because gyros are delicious, and we’re tired of cringing every time we’re at the Greek restaurant. (The waiter’s tired of rolling his eyes when they screw it up too).

silver spoon

Money, we like it, we all need it, but nobody likes to talk about it. Except for mom, that is. One of mom’s favorite pastimes is sitting around the kitchen table speculating how all our friends maintain their lifestyles. She’s really interested in Jerry. He works retail at the Ace Hardware down the street and yet he drives a Lexus. “I don’t know how he can afford that thing,” Mom says. “He must have been born with a silver spoon.” Cue the groans.

For starters, the term silver spoon wreaks of pretension. It originated in the mid-1860s, and since then, it has been used snobbishly by people referring to others they believe are born into money. Parents, like Mom referring to Jerry’s Lexus, use the term as a pejorative when really, as adults, they should just know better.


Nosy mom is at it again. She’s not content knowing simply where your friends’ money comes from. No, she’s back for more, and this time she wants the juicy stuff. She’s looking for the pertinent details that are better left unsaid between parent and child. “What about Lisa and Will?” mom asks. “Do they hookup?

Yes, this one is a little gross. We don’t like to talk about relationships with the parents. It’s weird, and it gets even weirder when mom uses colloquialisms to bring up the subject. The term hookup is relatively new. It originated in the early 2000s, and as we all know any time parents combine both modern slang and intimate subjects, everyone feels uncomfortable.

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Word of the day

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