It is a truth universally acknowledged that any newspaper containing an article beginning “it is a truth universally acknowledged” should be hurled across the room and stamped on, immediately, without reading another line, then burned, the ashes flushed down the loo, one’s subscription canceled, a furious letter written to the editor and the relevant newspaper building marched on with pitchforks, gasoline and matches.

Well, why are you still here? I wouldn’t be. I wouldn’t have got halfway through “univer-” before pulling my eyes out and boiling them in bleach. Yes, sure, this is me writing, and you might have been tempted to think, “Giles must, surely, have a very good reason for rolling out this most hackneyed of quotes that is employed to head up literally every single news item or feature article that has even the most tangential relationship to Jane Austen, and even ones that don’t, by idiots who — ”

Wait. Did I just write “literally every single news item”? I am so, so sorry. Of course, I did not mean “literally”. God, how I hate people who use it wrongly. “Literally” has a very specific role to play in our language, pointing up where a phrase that is often used figuratively is being deployed in its literal sense, and it should never, ever, be used for mere emphasis. It is a pet peeve of mine … aaaaaaaaaargh!!!!! I said “pet peeve”! I hate “pet peeve”! How can anyone even say “pet peeve” without vomiting? Where did “pet peeve” come from? What even is it?”

Oh no, I wrote “what even is it?” like some teenage thicko Internet person. I’m going to have to cut off the hand that wrote it. I’m going to have to take this meat cleaver and … wait, I’ve just noticed all the exclamation marks I used in the last paragraph. I hate exclamation marks! They are the abomination of the modern age, a cancer of the language, a symbol of how social media, or “antisocial media” as I call it … Oh no! I said that I called social media “antisocial media”, as if I thought that was clever. I do not deserve to live. Honestly, please, take me to a clearing in a forest, force me at gunpoint to dig a hole and kneel in front of it, and then, in the name of the English language, apply the coup de grâce.

How can anyone even say “pet peeve” without vomiting?

Or alternatively just dob me into Michigan’s Lake Superior State University (LSSU), which published a list of “banished words” this week and caused a rumpus across the press (is “rumpus” OK? I think it’s OK) by topping its roll call of “familiar but problematic” phrases that must be banned with “no worries” — an abominable Australianism, apparently, which upsets people who would prefer a more formal “you’re welcome” or “don’t mention it”. And most of the world seemed to agree, piling in to tell of their personal linguistic bugbears (“new normal”, “circle back”, “at the end of the day”) and remind us once again of language’s unparalleled power to divide and enrage.

But I don’t mind “no worries”, as it happens. Because I like Australians. And when people take against a certain word or locution, I think, it is because they already don’t like the person saying it or the culture they come from. The disparagement of the word or phrase is merely a conduit for their wider prejudice. These Americans up in Michigan, for example, being colonial simpletons, fear the influence of their even more brutish fellow colonials in Oz, and so take against their lingo where I am content to rise above.

“No worries,” “at the end of the day,” “you’re on mute,” and “supply chain” top this year’s list.

Indeed, when the great linguist David Crystal was cited in The Guardian confirming an “uptick” in recent instances of “no worries”, it was the “uptick” that broke me: a filthy neologism leaked — like “going forward” and “reaching out” and “touching base” — from ghastly, coffee-smelling corporate meeting rooms and boneheaded PowerPoint presentations which I, being of a more elevated, cultured bent, deride.

LSSU did include the genuine skin-crawler “asking for a friend” which I also abhor, but that is because, like “LOL” and “IMHO” and “LMAOL”, it comes from Twitter. And I hate Twitter, and everyone on it. So I hate the way they talk, obv.

I am also a terrible snob, which is why I blench and gag at “haitch” and “at the minute” and “shall I pop round?”, because they are key signifiers of the bland, suburban, partially educated, telly-watching but terribly “naice” lower-middle-class life from which my own is separated by a fag paper — or, if you prefer, by a square of “toilet tissue”.

But I do my best, in these progressive times, to conceal my various linguistic allergies because snobbery is not a good look. And nor, of course, is “not a good look”. But people say it all the time and I try to pretend it’s OK. Just like “very unique” and “going forward” and “moobs” and “man flu” and “the Bard”.

When people take against a certain word or locution, I think, it is because they already don’t like the person saying it or the culture they come from.

I flick through scripts I am expected to deliver on television shows that are full of “I am passionate about … ” and “I’m going on a journey … ” and “iconic” and I tell them that I can’t possibly say these hideous things because I am not passionate and I don’t like journeys and that isn’t what an icon is, and they tell me — in meetings where we talk about “granular content” and “take-outs” and “deep dives” — that it doesn’t matter, Giles, they’re just words, they don’t have to mean anything, TV shows just have to have these ones in them. So I say them, and cash the checks, and remain part of the problem.

It’s the same in food-writing, where I used to try so hard not to write “toothsome” or “unctuous” or “redolent” or “washed down with” or “cuts through the fat” or “umami”. But in the end, why bother? I only wanted to avoid those words because all the other food writers wrote like that, and it (and they) seemed so dull and ugly. But that was just me hating them, wasn’t it? For reasons of revolting intellectual snobbery. And I oughtn’t to have blamed it on the poor, innocent words.

Like when plodding journalists describe unfeasibly big things as being such and such a thing “on steroids” or a lively or surreal thing as being something else “on crack”. Hilarious, no? I mean, no. But I must try not to hate them for writing it.

And when it says in The New York Times “President Biden made a speech Tuesday” I shouldn’t be shouting at the page: “ON Tuesday, you thick Yankee bastards! He made a speech ON Tuesday!” And when they call a steak a “filet mignon”, or coriander “cilantro”, I should just let it go. Not do a little sick into my hand.

Disgust at the way someone speaks is merely code for deeper fears and hatreds. The word “barbarian”, as I’m sure you know, comes from a running joke in ancient Greece about the base, animalistic sound made by all languages other than Greek: “barbarbar”. My point being that if some awful, trite little phrase someone uses makes you want to throttle them, well, you probably wanted to throttle them anyway.

Just sayin’.

Giles Coren is a columnist for The Times of London and the host of Amazing Hotels, on BBC2. Season Six of his podcast, Giles Coren Has No Idea, begins in February