Certain words and phrases have a way of becoming a fad, or meme. It’s started by someone high in the cultural food chain who has access to a microphone. The most recent is the word “look” when beginning a sentence. President Obama started it back in 2008 when he was running for his first term in office. “Look, Gitmo has to close. There’s no two ways about it,” he might say to an interviewer. It’s shorthand for,” Look, let’s cut the crap.” By saying “look,” the speaker is asking the listener to focus his or her thoughts, or to “get real,” which is another meme started by the hippies back in the day.
Other memes in the past have been the phrases, “If you will,” and “as it were.” They were popular during W. Bush’s presidency, but you don’t hear them much anymore; they’ve fallen out of fashion. These two phrases were used to make the speaker sound intelligent, a member of the one percent IQ class. When “if you will” was common, I would say, “OK, I will” whenever I heard it. It means “if you will allow, or accept this idea, or concept.” I have no idea what “as it were” is supposed to mean. You can drop it almost anywhere in an English sentence, as it were, and it’s still meaningless, if you will.
Speaking of words, we all have a word we despise, not counting the obscenities. I have two, “absolutely” and “ginormous.” Absolutely––started by movie boxer Rocky Balboa––is lazy and overused and ginormous sounds made up, which I thought was a pathetic attempt to combine “gigantic” and “enormous.” Damned if it isn’t in the dictionary. It means “humongous.” Look, look it up, if you will.