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.

In the early 1980s the expression "whatever" exploded in pop venacular. Ground zero was Lafayette, LA. In the early days of the punk rock movement, roommates Victor Palmer and Paul Connelly opened their home on the Vermillion River to road-weary acts touring the gulf coast roadhouse circuit. Notable guests include guitarist "Weasel" and drummers Ken Wyatt (Little Queenie and the Percolators) and Jim McDonald (Talking Heads), Sid Vicious, Wendy Wiliams, and The Cold. Palmer and Connelly often said "Whatever" (actually spoken with a Nawlins accent as "what ev ah" as they escorted babbling musicians to their beds. Over breakfasts of poached eggs on English muffins, griades and grits served with mimosas and/or bloody marys, "whatevas" would be tossed about like biscuits at Lamberts in Foley, Alabama. As the various acts moved on to far reaches of the United States, "whatever" increasingly gained use as a dismissive, conversation blocking tool.


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]


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]

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] 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.


  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