Uh, Let’s, Uh, Talk About “Uhs”

Let's make no mistake about it, conversation is war and 'uhs' are rounds spent to keep your opponent in the trenches.
Let’s make no mistake about it, conversation is war and ‘uhs’ are rounds spent to keep your opponent in the trenches.

Verbal Ticks

Is there a word or a phrase you use (or overuse) all the time, and are seemingly unable to get rid of? If not, what’s the one that drives you crazy when others use it?

Often called ‘word whiskers,’ I suppose we all have them, but cleverly introduce them so that they are not often detected.  ‘That’ is one that is common in writing. Often it could be eliminated.

I do have a theory about ‘word whiskers;’ rather than being an annoying habit or just a phrase to fill dead space while we collect the next thought or build up steam to chug on, I think they are an internal  mechanism in our brain to balance a sentence in order to make it poetic and lyrical.

It all sounds rather complicated, but I have years of observation to prove my point, now somebody can take years of observation to prove me wrong.

There is yet another theory about those ‘word whiskers.’ In the art, or let’s call it what it really is – war, of conversation we are reluctant to give up ground. Any sudden pause where no words exist allows our opponent to interject a thought and ramble continuously.  None of us want to share air time.  Each of us have developed our own tender way of grabbing up all the verbal turf a good suck of air will allow. I don’t think we have people with few words or quiet, I think they don’t have adequate lung capacity to compete in a major arena.

I’ve listened to recordings of my discourses. It’s not my voice I can’t stand it’s the word whiskers; the “and uhs,” “is uhs,” and plain old “uhs” that drive me crazy.

Here is the link to the final part of my short story, Family Pub.



  1. I can appreciate relating quite people to a lack of lung capacity. It may sound strange but I give my children whistles to play with around the house to encourage their breath projection. They have no excuse for mumbling, my verbal aggravation.

  2. I liked “grabbing up all the verbal turf’ – never come across the phrase ‘word whiskers’ before, but I like it. Makes me think of elaborate Victorian moustaches.

  3. The idea of word whiskers is not familiar to me, but I like any reason that will allow me to get away with using one. I’m not sure what mine is, or if I have one anymore. When I was younger, I used “like” and “you know” an awful lot. Thankfully, I outgrew the annoying habit.

Blather away, if you like.

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