December 14, 2011 by esarsea

I’m not sure when or where it started, but I’ve recently become increasingly aware of the use of the word Really, or the phrase Really, (pause) Really as an expression of disapproval.

It typically surfaces in casual conversation, something like this:

MAN #1: “Hey Bob, I’m glad I caught up with you. How did the meeting go last night?

MAN # 2: “It was terrible. Check this out. I presented our proposal just like you and I had discussed, and the guy didn’t understand the concept. And I’m like, Really…I mean…dude…Really.” 

Notice I did not include a question mark at the end of Really. It probably should have one, but I’m trying to demonstrate by written word the voice inflection that accompanies this use of Really.

It’s not the type of Really that is spoken (or asked) in a manner consistent with surprise or excitement, such as when you tell your kids you’re taking them to Disneyland and they exclaim, “Really!?” Nor is it spoken in a manner of wonderment or inquisitiveness, as in when someone might share a secret with you and you reply, “Really?” as in “Oh my!” 

The “New” Really is spoken with an inflection that is more consistent with a statement than a question, but it is used in the context of a question. It usually carries a veiled condescending tone and a very slight questioning inflection. 

I’m not sure if it a regional thing here in the Pacific Northwest, or if like many new expressions it started in California (or some other part of the country) and it’s just making it’s way here. Often times we’re, “Late to the party” so to speak, tucked away in our little corner of the country.

Have any of you noticed this seemingly new and increased use of the word, Really? If you’re like me, once you’re aware of it, you’ll be noticing it all the time.

Or maybe I’m the one late to the party, and this has been around a long time.

5 thoughts on “Really?

  1. billie789 says:

    While toiling at a tv station in the 80’s, I noticed that I responded to almost every comment coming my way with “Really?” with the raised voice at the end of the word, like a true Valley Girl. I stopped myself and then heard it in everyone else’s speech patterns for years afterwards.

    Seriously?” is another one, as is,”Are you serious?”

    Jon Stewart does the new one, twice, after he presents a stupid action Congress has created or some other absurd thing. “Really? Really?”
    I’m on a unversity campus where everything is either “awesome” or “like.” Some days, everything is “like, awesome!” Or I overheard two co-eds yesterday and almost said something:”It’s, like, he doesn’t, like, call me, like in the afternoon, but, like, at midnight, so I’m all, like, whatever!”

  2. Da Goddess says:

    Seriously is my really. I also overuse actually, but without irony. Actually (and there’s my example), my seriously does double duty in conversation and in my writing. I have tried to back off, but I think it’s ingrained into my mostly-Californicated brain.

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