“Quite frankly.”

For a while now, I’ve been mentally compiling my own little dictionary of words and phrases I would like never to read or hear again for maybe a decade, because they have been used in such a way they don’t mean what they should mean or have become empty verbal filler, like “um,” “uh,” “you know,” etc.

One particular empty phrase used by almost every pundit on TV is “quite frankly.” It’s empty because (1) it’s usually used to finish up a statement that is, in itself, obvious, i.e., nothing that needs to be called “frank”; (2) I’ve heard it used by people who end their statements about someone else’s statement with “quite frankly” when “frankness” isn’t in any way relevant, nor is it the position of the person using “quite frankly” to claim his own frankness over someone else’s statement; and (3) do you trust the statement of somebody who feels impelled to append “quite frankly” to it?

So last night, when I came upon this delightful passage in Anthony Trollope’s 1858 novel, Dr. Thorne, I resolved to be quite frank by handing it over to you.

But when one is specially invited to be candid, one is naturally set upon one’s guard. Those who by disposition are most open, are apt to become crafty when so admonished. When a man says to you, ‘Let us be candid with each other,’ you feel instinctively that he desires to squeeze you without giving a drop of water himself.

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