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Like Is, Like, a Comma

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There’s a difference. Get it right.
I know it's so, like, hard, but you got to keep, like, like, going! You gotta win this for, like, like, like, like, the both of us!
Match, Battle for Dream Island, "Half a Loaf Is Better Than None"

This is like when characters, like, constantly throw the word "like" into their sentences. Frequently used by like, teenage girl characters who are, like, um, a little dim? And every sentence ends with, like, an upwards inflection? Usage doesn't seem to be limited to, like, specific character types, although it does seem to be used more by girls than, like, boys. Can get into, like, Totally Radical territory if, like, this character trait is used, like, randomly out of place.

Right, that's enough of that… hopefully you can see how unclear and annoying that can make dialogue! This trope definitely needs to be used sparingly, unless you really want to make a character The Scrappy.

The word "like" can be used in many ways;

  • Adverbs, when it can mean 'nearly' or 'about' — "She's only, like, 5 miles away", or 'for example' — "You could catch, like, herpes".
  • Quotatives, when you wish to quote another character — "she was like, 'Like is totally a quotative!'"
  • 'Hedges', when you want to show you don't quite mean what you're saying literally, but as simile or hyperbole — "I, like, died".
  • 'Fillers', if you don't wanna use, like, "um..." or "er...".

Another place like turns up is in Welsh speech. Leet Lingo frequently uses "liek" as a deliberate typo.

Dave Barry once pointed out that one of the reasons young people may talk like this could be to make sure the person they're talking to is paying attention to them.

This is, like, Truth in Television, as many parents will gripe about this trope — although people will use it in Totally Radical ways that don't match any actual teenagers' speech. Also a prominent trait of the Valley Girl and of the stereotypical Beatnik.

Despite being now widely used in standard English, it's also Older Than They Think: the oldest quote cited for this sense in the Oxford English Dictionary comes from 1778.note  Screenwriter I. A. L. Diamond (who was born in 1920) and director Billy Wilder (born in 1906) had Marilyn Monroe use the expression in the 'hedge' sense above in their 1959 period comedy Some Like It Hot.

Compare Verbal Tic, contrast Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic. Not to be confused with Dude, She's Like in a Coma, though that trope's title is both an example of this one and a probable inspiration for its title.

No relation to Like Likes. Or the Like button.

Like, Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Like, Advertising 
  • In an advertisement for Kellogg's Caramel Nut Crunch, a boy named Wally is a stockboy at a store, but is too busy munching on the advertised cereal to be bothered doing his job. A hot female supervisor who talks in this manner comes over to tell him to get off his butt and go stock it but because the crunching of the cereal is so loud, what hears is "I like (crunch crunch) you, Wally. Like, I'm totally (crunch crunch) nuts (crunch crunch) about you."

    Like, Anime & Manga 
  • Poland from Hetalia: Axis Powers is shown to do this in Fanon, due to the translation of his Nagoya Schoolgirl dialect into a Valley Girl accent. Coincidentally, this, like, totally fits with his canon personality.
    • Hong Kong, especially in Hetalia Bloodbath 2010, has a tendency to do this as well, although not quite to the same extent as Poland (similarly, this is a translation of his Gyaru-o dialect, which has speech patterns like that of a teenage boy).
  • Yuudachi in the KanColle anime ends her sentences in POI. This is essentially the Japanese version of like and is used to simulate the Japanese equivalent of the valley girl. Interestingly enough this has not made her the scrappy as warned above, rather it actually made her an ascended meme. To the point where even in the English sub her pois are kept in.
  • In One Piece, Pound, one of Charlotte "Big Mom" Linlin's many husbands and the father of Lola and Chiffon has this as a Verbal Tic in the localization of the manga.

    Like, Comic Books 
  • This is how the legionary who's, like, disguised as a rattle-seller talks in the, y'know, English translation of Asterix and Son.
  • In Issue #3 of the My Little Pony Micro Series, hippy pony Flax Seed always says "like" every other word. It's even lampshaded by Rarity and his annoyed wife, Wheat Grass.
  • Toola from Pocket God says "like" almost anytime she speaks as part of her Valley Girl personality.

    Like, Comic Strips 

    Like, Fan Works 

    Like, Films — Live-Action 
  • Clobber from The Criminal is an Australian thug unable to complete a simple sentence without using the word "like". His cellmate Pauly asks him if he can utter a sentence without saying "like" and Clobber fails miserably.
  • Kayla, the protagonist of Eighth Grade does this extensively during her YouTube videos. An example:
    "But it's like, being yourself is, like, not changing yourself to impress someone else. You know, because, like, um, like, uh, you could be the most popular kid at school or, like, you know, like, um, have, like, the hottest boyfriend or whatever, um, but, like, what's the point if you're not being yourself? And it's like being yourself can be hard. And, like, the hard part about being yourself is that it's not always easy because, you know, like, people can, like, um, like, make fun of you, or something dumb. Because, like, people suck and evil people exist. Um, but you just got to ignore them and, like, not care what they're saying."

    Like, Literature 
  • Animorphs: When she suffers from a case of Literal Split Personality, Rachel's nice half talks this way, even in her narration. Mean Rachel, on the other hand, does not, an gets annoyed with Nice Rachel for talking like that.
  • This is a common feature of Nadsat speak in A Clockwork Orange, though its usage isn't exactly the same as it would be in normal teen speech.
  • Dave Barry has like a column where he like explains that teenagers talk like this to like check that they still have the full attention of like whoever they're like talking to.
  • In the Carl Hiaasen crime novel Star Island, the annoyed bodyguard Chemo tries to work out this tic out of his assigned client with a cattle zapper.
  • Discussed (or rather, the aversion is discussed, the story plays ca. 2200 and youth slang changed) by Eric Northman in a short in "Dead but not Forgotten".
  • In a crime novel (decades-old and surely a translation into German), some hippie girl (?) annoys everybody by her incessant "I know it positive!" (Original version unknown. It incidentally gives her sort of an alibi, as the detectives discuss: "Surely she is the killer, I know it positive!") In her defense, the exact phrase also occurs in a German translation of Crime And Punishment.

    Like, Live-Action TV 

    Like, Music 

    Like, Pinballs 

    Like, Podcasts 
  • Cecil, smooth-voiced community radio reporter and grown man, on Welcome to Night Vale sometimes peppers his speech with gratuitous use of the word "like" when he's rambling off-topic. Especially about his Love Interest.
    Cecil: Well, to the point: Carlos called, and I'm like, "Hellooo?" Like I don't even have caller ID, and he's like "I need to talk to you. This is important." And I'm like, "Ummm, okay."

    Like, Radio 
  • In The Men from the Ministry the weird modern artist Ted Sponge in the episode "Torn to Shreds" uses the word "like" very excessively, and even manages to get Mr. Lamb to do it just as he leaves the office.

    Like, Video Games 

    Like, Web Animation 

    Like, Webcomics 
  • By the Tail: Ivory Monroe uses the word "like" quite liberally, as befitting her Valley Girl characterization.
  • Felecia from Ozy and Millie doesn't play this up much, but does it often enough that it comes up when she gets sent to the psychiatrist.
    Felicia: Are you sure saying "like" every other word causes fatal brain warts?
    Dr. Wahnsinnig: If it'll make you stop-yes, absolutely positive.
  • The "quotative like" is discussed in this xkcd strip. (Is the linguist's quote just a statement about how language evolves - or a death threat?)
  • In El Goonish Shive, the use of the Ditzy card in the magical boardgame Susan participates in has a mental side effect that causes the player to act like The Ditz if not consciously overridden including manifesting this trope.
  • In Ennui GO!, Tanya's first day as the owner of her new coffee shop in Key Manati sees her deal with several idiot customers, including a stereotypical blonde bimbo who asks for a hot iced coffee in this manner.

    Like, Web Original 
  • Aquerna (Anna Parsons) of the Whateley Universe is fourteen, and narrates her own stories. They're, like, full of adventures and stuff.
  • The Jolly Roger Telephone Company is a company that provides bots to waste the time of telemarketers and other unwanted callers, recordings of which have found some popularity on YouTube. The Salty Sally bot often peppers her speech with "like," i.e. "Yeah, um, okay, so, like, can you get to the point?" and "Like, I'm kind of, like, in the middle of something, so can you just, like, what are you exactly calling about?"

    Like, Web Videos 
  • Taylor Mali did a hilarious piece about this called éLike Lily Like Wilsoné.
  • In the Freelance Astronauts Let's Play of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, Ferr jokes that the Like-Like was named by a teenage girl from California.
  • On Super Beard Bros, Alex slips pretty heavily into this, in contrast to his appearances on (the rather more scripted) The Completionist and The Dex.
  • Echo Rose: Befitting her stereotypical millennial vlogger persona, Echo peppers her dialogue with the word "like" as a verbal placeholder.
    "I, like... I don't know, I, like, need something to do with my time, you know, like...otherwise, I'm just gonna be sitting here, like, rewatching The Office (US) again, and like, I love to do that, but I can't keep doing that, you know, like..."
  • In Backstroke of the West, Allah Gold is told, "The Presbyterian Church, like, enjoys you not."
  • Doug Doug uses this a lot, as he found out where he attempted a challenge where he tries to beat Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in Classic Mode, but every time he says the name of one of the characters, he dies. It doesn't take long for him to realize that "like" happens to include the name Ike in it.
    Doug: So, it turns out that this challenge is not actually about me playing Smash Bros, this is an advanced torture device to train my brain to not say the word "like" constantly.

    Like, Western Animation 

    Like, Real Life 
  • Geordies, like. Amusingly, that's about all Southerners can often translate from Geordie.
  • Most American teenagers, black or white, male or female. Like: It's Not Just For, Like, Dumbass Valley Girls Anymore!
    • But English teachers will still, like, freak out over it so like, try to like, censor yourself.
    • "Like" has been featured in ESL textbooks as an example of slang - considering the many different meanings "like" can have, it makes sense to teach it even if it's linguistically undesirable.
    • Like, you can have lots of fun by, like, listening to other students try to, like, give an oral report and, like, count the number of times they, like, say "like." Six, by the way.
    • Many American adults (particularly those under 50) also do this, albeit not to that extreme.
  • It's like, also like, really common with like, certain British subcultures like. For some, like, this sentence would, like, be an exaggeration, like. But, like, for others, like, it's like, totally not though, right, innit though.
  • Y'know, like, Cork people, boy.
    • Same in Limerick, like.
  • Ow. Welcome to Wales, like, but.
  • The exact German equivalent, BTW, would be "Digger" (not gold or grave, but "fatso", literarily). The word was also likened (no pun intended) to a youth comma.
    • Like, 5 years later, the new filler is "kappa" (google Twitch), technically meaning a sarcasm indicator, but factually again for interpunctation and exactly as annoying, Digger!
  • For French, the exact equivalent would be "Genre". This world initially meant "kind of" but by language abuse became the equivalent of "Comme".
  • Similarly, Brazilian Portuguese has the word "tipo", which originally means "type of"/"kind of", but is often used as a comma. The longer version "tipo assim" ("kind of like this") is also used sometimes.
  • Among Polish-speakers, the long-standing joke is that the local equivalent to the eff-word is used as a comma. (Literally, that's exactly the punchline.) This is not to be confused with Russian mat, which is about forming entire coherent sentences purely out of swear words; while plasticity and well-honed expletivity of Slavic languages means you could mostly pull it off in Polish as well if you wanted to, Polish people usually just settle for a casual sprinkling of bleeps in otherwise normal sentences.
  • Caroline Kennedy's (Yes, those Kennedys) fledgling political career was killednote  before it began when she gave a slightly incoherent 30-minute interview where she managed to use the phrase "you know" 168 times (a bit over once every 11 seconds). She was roundly mocked in the news and her words were published verbatim with all the pauses and the misspeaking intact (usually, interviews are "cleaned up" before publication), which made her look like an idiot.
  • Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov liberally peppers his speech, don, with the literal Chechen equivalent, don, to the extent that a Kadyrov impersonation, don, squarely relies on this and goats, don. Also, make sure to speak with the voice of the stoner dude, don, like this, don:

Alternative Title(s): Like Like Like



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