Dear Crabby,

I know this is a small irritant, but the ubiquitous use of the word “perfect” really bugs me.

For example: When I’m on the phone regarding a banking matter or online shopping order and am asked to verify information, the person responds with “Peerfeeect!” as if it is amazing I can remember my address or birth date. Whatever happened to “thank you,” “OK” or “I got it.”

Stay safe,

Perfectly Annoyed

Dear Annoyed,

Now THAT is a pet peeve.

Pet peeves are idiosyncratic by definition, but this one: Oh boy. It’s not just any pet peeve. It’s not “People don’t use their blinkers when changing lanes,” or, “No one knows how to use apostrophes these days.” Those are the dogs and cats of pet peeves. “People use the word ‘perfect’ too much”? That’s special. That’s an exotic pet peeve. It’s the ocelot of pet peeves. Or the capuchin monkey.

It’s a whole new level of individualized annoyance. Frankly I’m impressed. And I mean that earnestly. I am a person who’s annoyed by pretty much everything. Having to order an Italian sub without mayonnaise (which it shouldn’t have on it in the first place), bad writers’ overuse and misuse of “as” as a subordinating conjunction, people in my car who aren’t ready to order when we get to the drive-thru; all of that stuff makes me irrationally angry. But it never occurred to me to be annoyed by the use of “perfect” in mundane circumstances. My hat is off to you. (I mean, my pet peeves aren’t dogs and cats either, but they’re not ocelots. Ferrets maybe.)

Your annoyance over something that specific makes me pretty sure I’d like you in real life, Annoyed. But you may not like my advice, which is essentially: This one’s on you. You are alone in this fight. There’s no movement to establish a social taboo about using “perfect” too often or too lightly. As such, people are going to keep doing it, whether you like it or not.

That means, unless you want to continue being annoyed by it (a prospect we’ll return to in a minute), you need to change your perspective on it. You called it a “small irritant” already, and you’re right. It is small — so small, in fact, that I think you could make it a nonirritant with the right mindset. That is to say, you could explicitly remind yourself not to let “perfect” annoy you. Some telephone voice responds to your address with “perfect,” you feel annoyed, you say to yourself, “Wait, I don’t have to let this get to me; my life will not be made better by it.” I’ve used this technique to “decide” not to let certain things annoy me, and over time it really does work.

Now, as I mentioned above, there’s always the option of just letting “perfect” continue to annoy you. Sometimes it feels good to have a tiny, inconsequential thing to be mad about. It’s cathartic. And it let’s you save your “let’s put this in perspective” impulse for bigger, realer problems.

It’s not a perfect solution. But, then, what is?

Hope that helps.



Reach Pat Muir at