“At the end of the day…” – when did this expression come about and become so overly used? Have you noticed that more and more people have been using it, that you hear it more and more often or is it just me?
It’s gotten to the point that everytime I hear someone utter “at the end of the day…” it stands out like a bright flag with loud speakers blasting ‘Copacabana’ into my ears.
The phrase ‘at the end of the day’ has been around for quite a long time. I’ve read that it goes back more than 200 years and has been found in religious and philosophical writings. It became a common phrase that was used in Parliament in the late 1800s. It became so heavily used in the UK for so long, in 2009 it was named as Britain’s most common annoying office cliché. So it’s nothing new.
Unlike today when you hear people use it when talking about pretty much anything, I’ve read the term was originally used in more of a business or a commercial context. Like, ‘end of the day report’ or ‘end of the day stock prices’.
Bosses might have instructed their employees, to ‘have that report on my desk by the end of the day’. It was a pretty straight forward set of orders. There was no metaphorical meaning behind it at all. Have that job done by the end of the day – meaning before you left work.
While it was in common usage in the UK for centuries, it somehow made its way over the pond and got embedded in the U.S. vocabulary. Little by little ‘at the end of the day’ made it’s way out of offices and into daily life. The meaning grew away from simply referring to before you ‘leave work’ and evolved into representing the conclusion of any general topic.
It has skyrocketed in usage and has become one of the most overused clichéd phrases I hear all the time. It really seems to have gotten embraced by television news reporters, athletes and politicians.
“At the end of day, it’s all about the team winning.”
‘At the end of the day’ doesn’t even make much sense the way most people use it. Usually when I hear it crop in the person isn’t talking about a daily event or referring to any kind of sunset scenario. The topic isn’t referring to a limited 24-hour-time frame. It’s not used in any factual way anymore. “At the end of the day, you should turn out the lights.”
Now, the ‘day’ can represent anything! The ‘day’ has become a metaphor to whatever might be the topic of discussion.
The phrase also sets up the listener for the most important fact or point the talker is going to make. The phrase comes with an authoritative context behind it. Not surprisingly, since it originally came from bosses giving work orders to their underlings. So, when it’s used it doesn’t really leave any consideration to an opposing viewpoint when used in a discussion. It’s a somewhat pompous way of closing the conversation on your final thought and not allowing any other opinions to get in.
“At the end of the day it’s about getting the work done on time.”
“Well, yes, but would you consider…..”
“No, the day has ended.”
There’s no real opportunity to open the discussion to any further debate.
I’m not sure how long ‘at the end of the day’ is going to hang around. For me, hearing it so frequently it’s become very worn out and it signals a very lazy, predictable crutch to add into making a statement.
At the end of the day, a phrase can only be used for so long before it becomes a cliché and worn down. I think it’s time this one gets retired.