For my birthday, my daughter and fellow logophile gave me The Emotionary by Eden Sher, famous for her portrayal of the socially awkward and empathetic Sue Heck from TV’s, The Middle.  The Emotionary is “a dictionary of words that don’t exist for feelings that do.” She gave me an idea…

Ever since I had the epiphany that the use of filler words are at epidemic proportions, and that an app could help us all be better speakers, I have been frustrated by the lack of words to describe this pervasive phenomenon. I started off describing it as, “the like, ya know syndrome,” and others have called the condition, a “verbal virus,” or “mall-speak,” but none really do the job.  I needed better words to describe the excessive use of needless words that are undermining our speech.

Then it hit me like all 939 pages Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2016 Edition.  As the creator of the LikeSo App, I have an opportunity – nay, a responsibility – to coin some new words!   And thus, The Verbal Habitionary (verbal habit + dictionary) was born.  The Verbal Habitionary will offer portmanteau words (a blend of words) to give us all the vocabulary to talk about – and find solutions to – this increasingly ubiquitous habit that is undermining our communication, watering down our meaning, and distracting our listeners. 

Are you ready for the first new word?  Drumroll, please…

The first entry in The Verbal Habitionary is: 

Filler + -Itis = FILLERITIS 

noun. The verbal habit of using an excessive amount of filler words in one’s sentences. An inflammation of filler words.

Use it in a sentence, you say?

“Listening to my daughter’s friends litter their sentences with so many ‘likes,’ and ‘totallys,’ convinced me that they all must have filleritis!”

Look out for new entries in The Verbal Habitionary, and please send along your own words and ideas!

And, a big thank you to Eden Sher for your inspiration and for that feeling of “Emovelation”! (Noun. Excited clarity one feels from learning a new word that describes an emotion one didn’t realize one felt.)


  1. Pierre Strouse

    Very good post, keep up the good work. Thanks!

  2. Linda Kaucher

    When I hear someone speak who uses the word like excessively, I find myself counting how many times he/she says like and I miss what this person is saying. Hearing so many likes is ANNOYING! So guys, listen to yourselves. Record your conversation and see if you can annoy yourself too.

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