Maggie Balistreri

The Evasion-English Dictionary

© 2000, 2018 Maggie Balistreri

[Readers may well remember TheScreamOnline’s earlier diatribes against the verbal faux pas of the English-speaking world (“Well, basically….” and “Dare to be Accountable,” in 2001). We applaud Maggie’s brilliant and witty observations of those who like, can’t talk right and whose education is only a few degrees north of first grade (and that is an insult to First-graders!). —Ed.]


The Undercutting Like
(Translation: I’m not smart; I’m cool. I don’t know where I picked up that knowledge.)

“I think he meant it like, metaphorically.”

“You can’t do that; it’s like, a federal offense.”

“That was by like, Beethoven.”

The Vague Like
(Translation: Thereabouts.)

“There were like, a thousand screaming fans.”

“Have you been outside? It’s like, 100 degrees.”

“That was written like, two hundred years ago.”

The Cowardly Like
(Translation: I disagree. That is, if it’s okay.)

“I think you’re like, overreacting.”

“Are you sure? Didn’t you say you were gonna like, pay me back later?”

“I don’t think you’re like, being fair.”

The Apology Like
(Translation: Sorry; I’m articulate.)

“I was like, wow.”

“It was so interesting; it was like, I can’t explain it. You know what I mean?”

“I like, guess so.”

The Multimedia Like
(Translation: Visual aid to follow.)

“He said something sarcastic, and I was like . . . .” (Glare.)

“I was so happy, I was like . . . .” (Jump and clap hands.)

“Did you see what she was wearing? I was like . . . .” (Judge.)

The Staller Like, Part I
(Translation: Think, brain, think!)

“Man, this bag is heavy. What do you have in here, like, a bowling ball?”

“Poetry? Yeah, me too. I love like, Robert Frost.”

“You’re from Belize? That’s like, south?”

The Staller Like, Part II
(Translation: Uh, oh, math….)

“Let’s see, thirty percent off, so it’s like, forty dollars.”

“Plus tip, double the tax; let’s leave, like, sixty bucks.”

“Amortized over thirty years, that comes to like, a lot.”


The Passive-Aggressive “Oh, well.”
(The passive-aggressive never battles, and never loses.)

“No more seats? I guess I’m standing. Oh, well.”

“You pick first. It’s not quite half, but oh, well.”

“Oh, no, I asked for the dressing on the side. Oh, well. No, that’s okay; I’ll eat it anyway.”


“Even though” = “because”
(Consequence is motive…. When the speaker is ignorant of the motive.)

“He brought up the same old argument at the party even though he knew it would upset me.”

“I took the offer even though it would mean a lot less time with my family. I couldn’t turn it down.”

“Even though it meant I would be in the public eye more, I felt it was important to disclose.”

“We decided to have a baby even though it meant Bob and I would have less time for each other.”


“The relationship” = “you”

“Honey, we need to talk about the relationship.”

“I just don’t feel like I’m getting what I want from the relationship.”

“Even my friends can see that there are problems in the relationship.”

“The relationship needed a lot of work.”


“Because” = “and so”
“In his second remark in recent weeks about how the world of sports is interfering with the realm of the spirit, John Cardinal O’Connor said that Little League and soccer games are sometimes scheduled on Sunday mornings—and that, in too many cases, they are causing religion to be pushed aside.” —“O’Connor assails Sunday Little League,” New York Times, May 15, 1998.

“People are losing interest in attending church because Little League games are scheduled for Sunday mornings.”

“I can’t seem to focus on my work because all these other distractions keep coming up.”

“I push my kids to be open with me because they tend to be shy and withdrawn.”


“Feel” = “am”

“It was all my fault. I feel responsible.”

“I feel so guilty.”

“I can’t believe I did that to you. I feel terrible.”

“I’m like a lot of people in my generation. I feel so apathetic about politics.”


“Unfortunately” = “Um, fortunately”

“The baby came along, and now, unfortunately, I have no time anymore for painting. Otherwise, it would be my life.”

“If I were more confident about myself physically, I would have such a happier life. But I can’t work out because, unfortunately, I can’t afford to join a gym.”

“Unfortunately, he died before we had a chance to resolve our differences. I feel that my life has been on hold since then.”

Maggie Balistreri (@nycmaggie) is a namer and taxonomist. The “like” piece appears in her book, The Evasion-English Dictionary: Expanded Edition (Em Dash Group, 2018).  Her other books are There Was a Young Lady Who Swallowed a Lie, illustrated by Ryn Gargulinski (Em Dash Group, 2013) and A Balistreri Collection: abc poems (Em Dash Group, 2013).