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 ".
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.
- 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.
- There's even a POIPOIPOI remix
- And a chart on how many times she said the damn thing in each of the episodes.◊
- Another interesting thing to note is that in the manga Kancolle: Shimikaze, girl of the Whirlwind, her pois are translated into like. Even Shimikaze refers to her with the nickname like-like-chan.
- 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.
- 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.
- In For Better or for Worse, April does this.
- 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."
- 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.
- Chav characters are portrayed as doing this a lot. For instance, Vicky Pollard.
- The kids in My So-Called Life pretty much used "like" like, like, a Verbal Tic. Ironically, this is one of the things the show was lauded for, as it was probably the first instance of true-to-life "teen speak" in a television show. Until then, teenagers on television usually spoke exactly like adults, except with gratuitous Totally Radical lingo thrown in.
- Neil from The Young Ones talks like this.
- Sometimes popped up in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, mixed in with the Valley Girl and Buffy Speak stuff.
- Totally Kyle on The Amanda Show.
- This is, like, part of Maynard's whole beatnik trip on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.
- One gag on Modern Family has Haley and a friend of hers sitting in the back of the car while Claire is driving. Haley is sprinkling "likes" into her sentences like she's overusing a salt shaker and Claire gets annoyed enough to ask her to stop saying "Like". Cue Haley throwing a fit and screaming "YOU'RE EMBARRASSING MEEEEEE!"
- 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."
- 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.
- Peppy villagers in Animal Crossing have a habit speaking like this, being the ones with the Valley Girl personalities and all.
- Ini Miney talks like this in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. Though later it's revealed that she's doing it on purpose. Matt Engarde also uses it to a lesser degree. Is he acting too? Oh, is he ever...
- Lovrina of Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness is a variation; she doesn't use like as a comma but inserts "so" into her sentences often enough that it almost reaches Verbal Tic levels. Plus, she's not dim at all, being the head researcher of Cipher.
- Used by the kogal Yuka Ayase in the PSP version of Persona.
- Kurow in Ōkamiden sometimes does this.
- Due to the game's many verbal tics, Marcy of Chrono Cross has this for variation.
- Used extensively by the Sorority Orcs in Kingdom of Loathing, complete with use of question marks to complete all statements.
- In Leisure Suit Larry 2, Barbara Bimbo randomly inserts "like" and "you know" into her sentences at random, even in places where this would be unnatural for most speakers. This results in her accidentally naming Larry as the winner of the Dating Connection game, since her odd speaking patterns cause the host to misunderstand the word "too" as "two" (i.e., contestant #2).
- Skid McMarx from the Ratchet & Clank games sometimes speaks with this. Including when he underwent Unwilling Roboticisation in the third game.
- The Royal Guard 1 from Undertale speaks like this. Also, like, Bratty and Catty are basically textbook examples.
- 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.
- 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."
- Shaggy from Scooby-Doo does this a lot. In one episode of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, Velma tries to make him stop. Harlan Ellison drew attention to this trait.
- Spook from Top Cat speaks this way as well.
- Kitty 'Shadowcat' Pryde from X-Men: Evolution talks like this. Occasionally it gets to the point where her teammates can barely even understand her.
- Cranked to the max in Codename: Kids Next Door when some of Numbuh 3's friends ask her whether she likes Numbuh 4, and she responds, "You mean, like... like like like, like?.. like?"
- For her first couple of appearances in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy Eris talked like this before she switched to a British accent.
- Whittany and Brittany, the Biskit Twins, from Littlest Pet Shop (2012), are, like, huge offenders of this trope.
- Shirley the Loon from Tiny Toon Adventures, like, regularly talks like this, or some junk.
- Leni Loud from The Loud House. This is considered her most annoying habit. That, or misusing "literally."
- In Bob's Burgers, Alpha Bitch Tammy and her sometimes friend Jocelyn are prone to this.
- Mermista does this in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, although she's basically the exact opposite of the stereotype: far from a ditzy Valley Girl, she's a fairly smart Deadpan Snarker with a particular line in Flat Joy.
- 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".
- 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 you could mostly pull it off in Polish, thanks to the plasticity and well-honed expletivity of Slavic languages, 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.