Whatever (slang)

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Whatever is a slang term meaning "whatever you say" and "I don't care what you say". The term is used to dismiss a previous statement and express indifference and is usually considered offensive and impolite. In the late 20th century and early 21st century, the word became a sentence in its own right; in effect an interjection, it is used as a passive-aggressive conversational blocking tool, leaving the responder without a convincing retort. Anything they do or say can simply be blocked by the retort of "whatever".


Early examples of current usage include a 1965 episode of 'Bewitched' in which the character Endora exclaims "Alright, whatever" to her daughter, lead character Samantha Stevens, and also the much maligned 1965 sitcom 'My Mother the Car', in which "whatever" was the standard retort used by Captain Manzini (Avery Schreiber) whenever he would mispronounce "Crabtree" (Jerry Van Dyke), the car's owner (son). [1] Prevalent among the affluent "valley girls" of California in the 1980s, it was known to be offensive as in saying, "I don't think what you are saying is relevant" (as used in the film Clueless), according to slang expert Tony Thorne, who first recorded it there. It was a term used by WAGs - the wives and girlfriends of movie stars and producers but picked up as part of the code of the 'valley girls'. When said by valley girls it is usually said while making a "W" with the hands.[citation needed]


A shorter version, "Evs", made it into American pop consciousness when used by Australian rocker Toby Rand on the American reality television series Rock Star: Supernova.[2]

In internet slang, it is sometimes abbreviated as "w/e".

Cultural impact[edit]

In Marist College polls of 2009 and 2010, whatever was voted as the phrase that is "most annoying in conversation."[3][4] On the TV show All in the Family which premiered in 1971, 'whatever' was frequently used by the main character, Archie Bunker, as a dismissive response to his wife, Edith Bunker.

The English translation of Michel Houellebecq's 1994 novel Extension du domaine de la lutte, which describes the chronically disaffected life[5] of a computer programmer, was titled "Whatever" for its publication in the United States.

In some cultures, the semantic content of "whatever" can also be communicated using a hand gesture that of extending the forefingers and thumbs of both hands, and letting the thumb-tips touch, forming three acute angles that suggest the shape of the letter "W"; this gesture may be made against the gesturer's own forehead, similarly to the "L" of the 'Loser' gesture.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Internet Movie Database. "Character Quotes: Endora (see Episode 2.1, 'Alias Darrin Stevens')". Retrieved 2 April 2013. 
  2. ^ Interview with Toby Rand (Juke Kartel) Hot Indie News.com
  3. ^ Michael Hill (October 7, 2009). "'Whatever' so totally tops most annoying word poll". Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-10-07. [dead link]
  4. ^ Bernard Orr; Patricia Reaney (2010-12-15). "'Whatever' voted most irritating word in poll". Reuters. Retrieved 2011-03-03. 
  5. ^ "Publisher Comments" at Powell's Books