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Monday, February 25, 2008

I’m Worried

posted by on February 25 at 12:57 PM

When I moved to the Pacific Northwest 12 years ago, one of the first things I noticed was the popularity of the expression: “Right on.”

You didn’t have to restrict it to its actual meaning: “exactly” or “well done” or “hurray.” It was a malleable expression that worked its way into every single conversation.

Someone would tell you about their love life troubles, and in the pause, you’d say: “Right on.” Someone would tell you that you inadvertently cut in line, you’d say: “Right on.” Someone would tell you they had to leave town on an emergency because their mother was deathly ill, and you’d say: “Right on.” Someone would tell you they didn’t have that $20 they owed you, and you’d say: “Right on.”

And, of course, it also retained its original meaning. Someone would explain why tort reform was a GOP plot against consumer rights, and you’d say: “Right on.” Or if you scored tickets to a show you wanted to see, you’d say: “Right on.”

I don’t know when the term fell out of fashion. 1999? But in recent months, I’ve noticed a new expression that’s seeping into the vocabulary: “No worries.”

Currently, it seems restricted to its basic meaning—”no problem” or more loosely, “I understand.” But that last interpretation is dangerous ground. And I’m feeling it shift into that annoying zone where it starts to mean everything.

Now, I’m okay with a little lazy Nadsat—teenage vocabulary of the future—but “no worries” is just too happy and stonery.

There are worries, people. There are worries.

RSS icon Comments


haha. Right on dude. No worries!

:) k.

Posted by Kristin | February 25, 2008 12:58 PM

I refuse to acknowledge the worries.

Posted by Ziggity | February 25, 2008 1:00 PM

Whenever I hear "no worries," I'm like, where am I, the Outback Steakhouse?
Though I still say "dude" all the time and am starting to feel left behind.

Posted by Skip | February 25, 2008 1:00 PM

I use 'no worries' all the time and never use 'right on'.

I like 'no worries' because it generally puts people who think they have made a faux pas at ease.

Posted by me | February 25, 2008 1:00 PM

no worries....common Aussie phrase.

Posted by cw | February 25, 2008 1:02 PM

there are worries, you're right. like nsfw images. :p

Posted by some dude | February 25, 2008 1:03 PM

I use "sport" and people stare at me. I think I should change my official expression to "daddio".

Posted by Andrew | February 25, 2008 1:04 PM

I'm saying 'cheers' all the time now - WHY? peace out

Posted by another dude | February 25, 2008 1:05 PM

Instead of "no worries," I prefer OHMYGODWEREALLGONNADIE!!!

Posted by NapoleonXIV | February 25, 2008 1:06 PM


Posted by J.R. | February 25, 2008 1:08 PM

I see deep American cultural bias at work've got a problem with no worries but what about "all good"?!

Posted by betty du bois | February 25, 2008 1:08 PM

Happy!? we can't have that. Next thing you know people will think they don't have to be ironic all the time. Or even worse it could lead to rock bands who actually smile sometimes.

Posted by Heather | February 25, 2008 1:10 PM

"no problem" instead of "you're welcome"
is the one that bugs me.

hasn't no worries been around from last century.

Posted by ouch | February 25, 2008 1:10 PM

Whatever, same difference.

Posted by Jerod | February 25, 2008 1:12 PM

I was just in Eugene and noticed that the "right on" thing still exists there. It can be a little off-putting when you're not used to it.

I sort of like "no worries", at least the "don't worry about it" usage.

Posted by Julie | February 25, 2008 1:13 PM

@13. Whoops. I say "no problem" alot... mostly in casual situations (I hold door open for someone with their hands full, they say thanks, I say no problem). Sometimes the formality of "you're welcome" just seems to make too big a deal out of some minor courtesy.

Posted by Julie | February 25, 2008 1:18 PM

I still say "right on" all the time...I guess probably because I grew up here.

Posted by Hernandez | February 25, 2008 1:19 PM

it either means you're getting older and worried about fitting in with the youth culture who uses popular slang OR you're getting older and finding yourself irritated by the youth culture who uses popular slang...

i think "right on" is a west coast hippie/slacker thing and not just limited to WA. I've heard it other places, too.

Posted by michael strangeways | February 25, 2008 1:27 PM

josh being a dc or pg county boy, which you claim to be, u can go back to "word" when agreeing with others. it wont work for u on all cases, is not as versatile as right on.

no worries reminds me of drunk aussies with kangaroo pouch envy.

Posted by SeMe | February 25, 2008 1:30 PM

I use both of those phrases constantly, often together, separated only with "dude" as @1. I have a mix of pride and shame when I think about my lame vocabulary.
Seriously, bro. For real.

Posted by steve | February 25, 2008 1:33 PM

No worries was very common on the east coast in the late 90's. Its finally making its way over here.

Posted by Rotten666 | February 25, 2008 1:35 PM

just the last few months? haven't been hanging with the kids lately have you... 'no worries' has been around for a while.

Posted by Jiberish | February 25, 2008 1:38 PM

I use "no worries" the same way as me @4, to put people at ease over a trivial or non-existent faux pas or imposition.

Clearly, my choice of casual expression is the only legitimate path, and all of you who who use expressions learned from any other region or sub-culture are highly annoying to those of us who know better.

Posted by lostboy | February 25, 2008 1:39 PM

You're only NOW hearing people say "no worries"???

Geez...what a lamestain.

And, if y'all want me, I'll be hanging on the flippity flop.

Posted by pgreyy | February 25, 2008 1:40 PM

FTN, I'm talking all 70s now: do fries come with that shake?, he's a stone-cold fox, she's a skag, later days, gotta book, ah-DAY.

Posted by Skank McSkaggerson | February 25, 2008 1:42 PM

"Proper" never really got enough traction IMO.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | February 25, 2008 1:44 PM

No worries is from the same sad school as "my bad", which thankfully has faded. Both seem to devalue personal responsibility in favor of a don't worry be happy world view. Whatever.

Posted by tiptoe tommy | February 25, 2008 1:45 PM

Wake me when "Far Out!" returns...

Posted by NapoleonXIV | February 25, 2008 1:47 PM

Where does "It's all good" fit into all of this?

Y'all is crazy.

Posted by Shaniqua | February 25, 2008 1:48 PM

Josh, you need to get stoned. Or laid. Or both.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | February 25, 2008 1:49 PM

No worries, mate, we're all gonna die, and the US is a basket case ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 25, 2008 1:50 PM

I've only been in the NW since 91, but I've never heard anyone say "right on", except maybe on 80s sitcom TV...?

Posted by Peter F | February 25, 2008 1:55 PM

Is it just my east-coast perception, or do both these phrases bring to mind seriously stoned out deadheads talking about "the man"?

In any case, I think over here we generally say "tru-oooh" more.

Posted by mintygreen | February 25, 2008 1:57 PM

"No worries" is a polite way of saying "Go fuck yourself".

Ex. "I'm sorry for stepping on your foot." "No worries!"

Ex. "Table for two? That'll be a 45 minute wait." "No worries!"

Posted by Mahtli69 | February 25, 2008 2:01 PM

I always thought it was weird how "right on" was emphasized -- RIGHT on, instead of right ON, which is how groovies used to say it.

I started saying "no worries" after visiting Australia, and every time I say it I twinge with shame; it's as bad as saying "bloody", as far as cultural authenticity goes.

Posted by Fnarf | February 25, 2008 2:01 PM

Don't sweat it.

Posted by No Problem | February 25, 2008 2:01 PM

@30 is probably right about getting laid. I've been here for two years and completely overusing 'no worries'. Other phrases of mine have not caught on however.

Everyone should be using "get 'er dun" ironically. I had no idea that was a phrase until watching hockey playoff games from Dallas where they had it on hats(?). Why "go fuck yourself" and "blow me" do not have traction here when they are mega-popular in NYC escapes me.

Posted by left coast | February 25, 2008 2:02 PM

I can't believe I'm the first to say this in this thread:

Oh well, whatever, never mind!


Posted by Jeff Stevens | February 25, 2008 2:08 PM

This thread has been nothing if not bitchin'.

Posted by Spoogie | February 25, 2008 2:13 PM

When I first moved here, people use to say “pop” for soda, I thought it was original, and girls sounded cute when they said it. Now everybody says soda. Back in da day in Philly “pop” was used instead of busting a cap. As in "that motherfu$%% got popped!"

Posted by SeMe | February 25, 2008 2:27 PM

@34,37 - If only Seattleites could hear "go fuck yourself" in its "no worries" iteration, that would be totally irie by me.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | February 25, 2008 2:34 PM

I use no worries, right on, dude, and word. I'm going to sound exponentially more retarded as I get older. It's going to be awesome.

Me playing competitive shuffleboard when I'm 80:

"Dude! What the shit? That was totally in!....Oh, word, right on. No worries man, no worries. Time for a diaper change, etc."

Posted by bearseatbeats | February 25, 2008 2:38 PM

IRIE!! Blood Claat LLoyd!

Posted by SeMe | February 25, 2008 2:39 PM

Fnarf @35:

I started saying "no worries" after visiting Australia, and every time I say it I twinge with shame; it's as bad as saying "bloody", as far as cultural authenticity goes.

Fnarf, what's inauthentic about picking up new expressions in your travels?  If cultural enrichment is a bad thing, why would you go to Australia at all?

Is it cultural appropriation if we make sushi or quesadillas at home instead of eating out at a restaurant with an authentically ethnic staff?

Seriously, it's high time we all get over ourselves and this cultural appropriation/authenticity paranoia.  If we insist on being ashamed everytime we say or do or enjoy anything that didn't originate with people the same color from the city, we make ourselves indistinguishable from the know-nothing redneck who doesn't want to experience any culture but his own.

Posted by lostboy | February 25, 2008 2:40 PM

When we're senior citizens, "dude" will be this generation's "whippersnapper".

Posted by Mahtli69 | February 25, 2008 2:44 PM

@40 I grew up here in WA calling it "pop," but somewhere along the line I started getting made fun of - by out of towners I think - and changed to saying "soda." I also seem to recall having been misunderstood a lot in a short period of time while calling it "pop", which also contributed to my switching to "soda."

Posted by Callie | February 25, 2008 2:44 PM

Wow. Showing signs of age, are we?

Posted by *gong* | February 25, 2008 2:45 PM

@ 46

you should ve popped them for dissing you.

Posted by SeMe | February 25, 2008 2:48 PM

Your post got that damn song stuck in my head: "It means no worries for the rest of your days! Acuna Mattatta! (sp?)". Damnit!

Posted by manic preacha | February 25, 2008 2:50 PM

jeff stevens, ftw.

it's all part of the down under takeover; like fnarf, I picked it up after working with a bunch of australians and can't seem to shake it from my vocabulary even if I try. Nevertheless, it's easily preferable to right on or no problem.

Posted by josh | February 25, 2008 2:51 PM

The expression we had in high school that served this purpose was: "My bad."

My bad.

Posted by Josh Feit | February 25, 2008 2:54 PM

Cool man, cool

It is my bag

I still say canned pop, bottled soda


Posted by fairy boy | February 25, 2008 2:54 PM

Yeah, it's "pop" in Warshington for sure. A nice nod to the areas Scandinavian-by-way-of-northern-midwest roots. The grocery store isles still labeled it as such when I lived there (until 2001).

Too many non-natives there for it to last long though... I'm sure Michigan and South Dakota will keep "pop" alive AT LEAST until the last flat of Faygo rolls of the line.

Posted by Dougsf | February 25, 2008 2:57 PM

"I know, right?"

Posted by Mittens Schrodinger | February 25, 2008 3:01 PM

I find those two expressions lazy and overused. However, my hatred towards the phrase, "it's all good" is as strong as the white heat of a thousand suns.

No, it is not all good.

Posted by heather | February 25, 2008 3:06 PM

@51 - I just heard a story about a friend's little brother (who is a newly minted lawyer) being chastised in a courtroom by a judge for using the phrase "my bad". As in "my bad, your honor."

That was some funny shit. Word.

Posted by Julie | February 25, 2008 3:15 PM

I was introduced to "My bad" in college in the seventies, by a Venezuelan cokehead who lived in our dorm. "Opes. My bad" he would say, after doing something ridiculous like setting fire to your bedclothes or pouring bongwater into the back of the TV. "Opes" was a mispronunciation of "oops". He lasted even less time in college than I did.

I've never heard an earlier usage.

Posted by Fnarf | February 25, 2008 3:18 PM

I have participated in the shift away from "right on", towards "no worries", as well as the transition from Northwest-native "pop" to "soda".

I don't know why.

I still say "dude" and "man", too.

I really do sound like a stoner. I don't care. I call it "speaking Seattle". It's like valley plus weed. "Dude, like, no worries, it's cool. Right on, man."

Posted by violet_dagrinder | February 25, 2008 3:23 PM

Oh, and "right?". I'm guilty of that one too.

Friend: "Duuuude, this February sun business is freaking me the fuck out!"

Me: "Right? Well, no worries, it'll be pissing rain again soon, man. Totally."

Posted by violet_dagrinder | February 25, 2008 3:25 PM

In the Midwest, country-folk say pop and city-folk say soda. And any discussion of pop vs. soda also usually includes a comment about how in the South everything is called Coke. Those crazy southerners.

Posted by Julie | February 25, 2008 3:29 PM

That's wicked rehtahded!

Posted by wbrproductions | February 25, 2008 3:31 PM

and bleach is called clorox.

Posted by SeMe | February 25, 2008 3:31 PM

O, we got trouble! We got terrible, terrible trouble!

Posted by NapoleonXIV | February 25, 2008 3:41 PM

Had a friend that used to say "no worries" and "it's all good!" alot. He ended up jumping off a parking a garage to his death.

Posted by kueven | February 25, 2008 3:44 PM

I can't seem to stop saying "Awesome" when I am trying to express enthusiasm in conversation. Not in a perky exclamation kind of way, but in a period at the end statement kind of way. Is that as annoying as I fear it is?

Posted by less than awesome | February 25, 2008 4:01 PM

SeMe - I'm totally psyched that someone Jamaican explained why blood claat! no esta irie before I ever tried to vogue with it with merely a slippery grip on its import. It is the flippity of no werries in many ways.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | February 25, 2008 4:06 PM

Can we all start calling each other Bruce if we're talking Australian?

@34 is right "no worries" does a lot of work in Seattle. Lots of passive see-u-next-tuesdays in Seattle.

Posted by left coast | February 25, 2008 4:11 PM

@61. Or is it wicked pissah? Now go get me a tonic.

Posted by Eric in Boulder | February 25, 2008 4:29 PM

Has anyone besides me ever heard "way" used as an adverb *and* an adjective? As in "Dude, I know where there's this way way party we can go to!" Actual quote! Or at least as close to verbatim as I can recall after 24 years. It was uttered in July 1984 here in Seattle by a Jeff-Spicoli-type left-coast stoner-punk dude in the parking lot outside the Mountaineers after that summer's totally awesome (sorry!) show by this way gnarly band:


Posted by Jeff Stevens | February 25, 2008 4:35 PM

Next y'all be saying "No Wuckers", from "no wucking furries".

Posted by Dunder | February 25, 2008 4:58 PM

You know how when you turn a Furby upside down and shake it, it says "Worrrrrrrried"? That's what your post title reminds me of.

Posted by Fnarf | February 25, 2008 6:19 PM

All y'all crazed,
"Fresh" is the deffest omniphrase.

Which Belltown do you live in?
a. that's aight.
b. not today, man.
c. never.
d. sorry.
e. have a good day!

Posted by Mr Catnip | February 25, 2008 7:04 PM

You think "No worries" is bad? My boyfriend grew up on the east coast and went to college in Virginia. He says "giddyup!" and I think he means it like "let's go!" or . . . .. "right on". I can't figure out if this is a normal Virginia thing or if he's just a freak (quite possible).

Posted by lost in dc | February 25, 2008 7:24 PM

Everyone in Perth and Mid West Australia says "No Worries" instead of thank you, your welcome, no problem, cool, ok, and if I must. I just started saying it this month, because over the past five months I did not really mean "no worries". As an American, I am surely not yet ready to use the similar North Western Australian phrase "No Dramas".

Posted by Mrs. Jarvie | February 25, 2008 8:13 PM

'No worries' to me is like a vapidity alarm. When I hear you say it, I immediately know not to bother with you any more than necessary.

Posted by Gomez | February 25, 2008 8:35 PM

Seriously. Seriously? That's what you should be worried about. Come on, Josh, as attested above, anyone who has set foot out of the USA in the last umpteen years has heard "no worries" and its such not a big deal. And I'm sorry, as soon as the first stoner from Eugene uttered "right on", black people retired it. I actually had to explain to a friend, that no, my white friend was not making fun of him, that's just how people talk in these parts. Josh, please investigate the myriad uses of "seriously" as declaration, surprise, adverb adjective, just feel like slingin' 'cause i'm f'all out of metaphors or whatever (that's another one!) Question is asked what would you like to do? Answer: something vague, skidding slightly towards specific then veering away or whatever.
Then I do what I want and the other person is pissed. Never end sentence with "whatever". Geez, Josh, why'd you start this? Now I'm going to be dreaming about my coworker who says "somwheres" and "nowheres" Even applachian don't say that and they are country.

Posted by stone | February 25, 2008 9:55 PM

Right on has been around since the 60's as anyone who was alive then can tell you. As for the pop vs soda debate I was rather puzzled when I first moved to the Boston area and heard Coca-Cola, Pepsi etc referred to as tonic.

Posted by RainMan | February 25, 2008 10:36 PM

I'm sorry, but you're way behind. The new 'Right on' is not 'No worries', it's 'lol'.

Posted by Natalie | February 26, 2008 1:12 AM

My middle age uncle got his first computer last Christmas. The other day whe he thought something was funny he said "I am LOLing out loud"

Posted by wordnerd | February 26, 2008 6:23 AM

"No worries" has just leaked down to the PNW from Canada, I guess. The only people on the East Coast who frequently use it are Canadian imports.

Posted by singingcynic | February 26, 2008 7:26 AM

As long as we're harping on overused phrases, when will The Stranger's writers stop using the godawful "not so much"? As in, "Annie Wagner loves Barack Obama. But Erica Barnett? Not so much."

I fucking HATE "not so much"!

Posted by Will in 98103 | February 26, 2008 9:30 AM

I like the word: vajayjay (instead of vagina) is fun to say and NSFW-friendly haha

Posted by Kristin | February 26, 2008 7:34 PM

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