But a dreaded four word phrase? The honour of being the most dreaded phrase in the English language goes to, “We need to talk.” In a country where surveys are dime a dozen on any issues real or imagined, the latest is by the Right Guard Poll about phrases that strike terror in our hearts.
The winner even pipped “the boss wants to see you” in the top 10 most feared phrases. What are the other worst things to hear? “You’re fired” - from the boss. “Last orders” - from the bar. There are hundreds such, but here’s the remaining in the official top 10 list, “I’ve had a bit of an accident”; “Can I borrow your credit card?”; “There’s a leak (upstairs/in the bathroom etc.)”; “Did you remember my birthday?”; “I’ve got something to tell you”; “Now I know it looks bad, but...” Daily Mirror, which ran the survey, offers some phrases that its top writers dreaded.
Columnist Clemmie Moodie says, “These words strike fear into any selfrespecting showbiz journalist, ‘The free bar is now over.’ First panic. Then horror. Finally, a desperate scrabbling around in my handbag as I contemplate paying — yes, paying! — for my £13 glass of fizz.” Here’s a gem from writer Amber Morales, “So you’ve had your hair done, blown a month’s salary on a dress, only for some idiot to utter, You look well. Which, basically means, ‘You look fat.’”