Whatever, mom!, pic: © Carl Durocher | Dreamstime.com

Whatever is used in two distinctly different way.  One “by the book” (as intended), the other  figuratively, mostly by teenagers and it is that latter usage that requires some explanation.

“Whatever” – generally accompanied by an eye roll, some exasperation and a very bored facial expression – is the abbreviation for “whatever you say, I don’t care.”  It is the American teenage way to tell off the parents without using any explicit or outright offensive language.  It is also a way for teenagers to give in to their parents demands without losing face in front of their buddies because it shows that the kid disagrees with whatever the parent wants but doesn’t take the issue seriously enough to get into a real fight over it.

Dad: “Emily, I want you to be home at 10 pm. Not a minute later.  Understood?”

Emily: “Whatever.”

The expression is used by younger and older people as well.  It is considered fairly rude and falling just short of the f-word.  The tone of voice is really important, the more bored and exasperated, the ruder.  So be careful using it – if you must.


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