Learn English – What do we call an unnecessary “like”


When we use "like" unnecessarily as has been happening more and more in recent years, such as in the following sentences: "it's like really nice" or "she like dances and stuff", what do we call this "like"? I've read it can be a conjunction on Dictionary.com but I am unsure.


19. in the same way as; just as; as:
It happened like you might expect it would.
20.as if:
He acted like he was afraid. The car runs like new.
21. Informal. (used especially after forms of be to introduce reported speech or thought): She's like, "I don't believe it," and I'm like, "No, it's true!".

Best Answer

Consider calling it a verbal tic.

tic noun 1.1 An idiosyncratic and habitual feature of a person's behaviour. ‘they've developed a verbal tic which involves repeating odd bits of each other's utterances’ - ODO

Here are a couple of usage examples (emphases, mine):

  • It is easy—and fashionable—to dismiss it as a personal pet peeve (a pedagogical hypersensitivity,) a verbal tic (like Tourette's, a disability that, though embarrassing, calls for accommodation, not correction), or a sophomoric affliction akin to acne—soon to be outgrown and impolite to point out. It amuses others as an endearing aspect of the ingénue who texts through class and surfaces now and again, with hand raised, bursting with earnestness to volunteer that "like, when I, like, think about this, I, like. ... " ... - Diss 'Like' by Ted Gup

  • Other tics may be words or phrases such as “like,” (“like I was trying to say, like, the flu is a serious problem…”), “you know,” “so,” or “you think.” - How to eliminate your verbal tics, Publication Coach & Gray-Grant Communications