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What is a Pet Peeve?

Not washing dirty dishes quickly is a big pet peeve for some people.
Ignoring social conventions, such as keeping to the right on escalators, is a pet peeve of some people.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2014
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A pet peeve is something which particularly irritates someone. Usually, a specific action or behavior such as failing to wash dishes after using them is considered a pet peeve. Some people also call pet peeves “pet hates,” in a reference to the fact that a statement about a pet peeve is often prefaced with the words “I really hate it when...” Most people have an assortment of pet peeves, some of which may seem idiosyncratic to outside observers.

The origins of the term appear to lie in the early 1900s, although interestingly, the phrase “take the pet,” for “take offense” has been used since the late 1500s. In this sense, “pet” refers to something personal which particularly vexes someone, rather than a domesticated animal. “Peeve” in the sense of something irritating first appeared in 1908, and it is related to the word “peevishness,” meaning irritable.

Many pet peeves are related to social convention and hygiene. People might express irritation with individuals who do not brush their teeth, for example, or to people who refuse to keep right when they ride escalators. Many pet peeves concern small behaviors which are not terribly important in the long term, but for some reason these behaviors are perceived as extremely irritating. Someone may also consider a social cause such as spaying and neutering a “pet peeve,” in this case expressing irritation with people who do not alter their animals.

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Small annoyances can make a big difference in someone's life, especially if he or she is not adept at addressing these issues or handling stress. Office environments often serve as a fermenting ground for pet peeves, with various people in the office stewing over small and innocent actions until they explode with irritation. Teachers and other professionals may also struggle with pet peeves, especially when they see the same error repeated over and over again by different people.

It can sometimes be difficult to rationalize pet peeves, and it is important for people to recognize this. If it is possible to accommodate someone's pet peeves, this is often the best course of action. On the other hand, if accommodating a pet peeve requires unreasonable levels of effort, it may be a good idea to talk about the issue with the person concerned, to see if a compromise could be worked out. People should also recognize their own pet peeves before casting aspersions on others.

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anon157810
Post 3

I think my pet peeve would be, ummm, ooh, I know.

I think my pet peeve would be when my cat keeps on "watching" TV even after I've turned it off. My cat loves to watch TV when we have it on and sometimes she'll just sit there staring at the blank TV screen (she sits like an inch away from the screen. LOL) and sometimes it annoys me for whatever reason, so I move her some place else (more often than not she goes back to her original spot in front of the TV).

Anyway, I think that would be one of my pet peeves (I can't think of any others right now. LOL).

anon148379
Post 2

when people talk on their cell phones while they order them food.

BoatHugger
Post 1

In my Psychology class, we were learning about human behavior and the things that make us annoyed. We had to go around to different people and compile a list of the most popular pet peeves. We then had to observe the person’s behavior when talking about their biggest pet peeve. It was very interesting. Some of the most popular answers were:

Drivers who don’t use a turn signal, leaving the wipers on when it’s no longer raining, roadmaps not being folded correctly, misspelled words, and people drinking directly out of the milk/orange juice container.

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