Okay, it’s on my the tip of my tongue. I was watching interviews where they ask people what is their strongest point etc. If they’re asking about their weakness, the noun is ‘What is your Achilles heel?’ and when they’re asking about their best quality, they go, ‘What is your cup of tea?’

I’m looking for a word which means something you can’t stand, that annoys you. Usually interviewers ask them, ‘What is your ____?’ For example, the answer to that question is ‘Biting nails.’

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    If it's words... Entomology is the study of words that bug me. Commented Dec 29, 2018 at 17:53
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    A bit off-topic from the main question, but does cup of tea really mean a person's best quality? To me it's something that suits a person, and that the person likes. "He's talented, but his music is just not my cup of tea." Commented Dec 30, 2018 at 1:07
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    Didn't Randy Marsh already answered that ? Commented Dec 30, 2018 at 23:42

7 Answers 7


Pet peeve (Cited from the Mariam Webster dictionary)

Definition of pet peeve:

A frequent subject of complaint


One of my pet peeves is when people bite their fingernails. It bothers me so much!

Pet peeve is commonly used, so you can use this to express an annoyance you have.

  • Wanted to point out that pet peeve refers to something that you personally find annoying even though other people may not, whereas bane (also a very good word for this) can be something that anyone would find annoying, but that you have to deal with often.
    – Andy
    Commented Dec 28, 2018 at 20:42
  • @Andy Good note, however OP is asking for something you can't stand that annoys you. Commented Dec 28, 2018 at 20:46
  • I've also increasingly seen it shortened to just Peeve ...
    – aslum
    Commented Dec 28, 2018 at 21:27


  1. something that vexes; a cause of annoyance.

"What vexes you?" is a fairly plausible, common question to ask, although it may not quite have all of the pizzazz that your game show-like environment aspires to.


  1. a person or thing that annoys

Certainly each person could rapidly produce a list of their annoyances.


I'm rather fond of bugbear.

From Merriam-Webster:

a continuing source of irritation : PROBLEM

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    Words like that are my pet peeve ;)
    – Andy
    Commented Dec 28, 2018 at 20:39

bane TFD

A source of persistent annoyance or exasperation:

As in:

‘What is/are the **bane(s) of your life?’**

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    A more common phrase: "X is the bane of my existence"
    – Andy
    Commented Dec 28, 2018 at 20:43
  • Bear in mind that the original meaning of ‘bane’ was something that causes death. Using it for a mere irritation feels like overkill to me!
    – gidds
    Commented Dec 29, 2018 at 12:51

Another expression that's very similar to pet peeve would be one's pet hate (I think this one is more popular in British English though). The Cambridge Dictionary defines pet hate as follows:

something that annoys you a lot

Example sentence:

That's one of my pet hates—people who smoke while other people are eating.


You might be looking for the word "Naggers", the plural of the word "Nag".

Oxford defines a "Nag" as a noun "A persistent feeling of anxiety." which can be quite annoying, it can also be used as a verb ‘something nagged at the back of his mind’.

Given your request for a noun that can describe multiple things that annoy you, I feel like like "Naggers" is is a suitable noun.

  • Anxiety isn't the same as annoyance, and the feeling isn't the same as the thing causing the feeling. People littering doesn't nag me (though it should nag at their consciences), and I've never heard or seen the word "nagger" used. Perhaps because it could be mistaken for ... you know ... something else? Commented Dec 29, 2018 at 0:15
  • @BlokeDownThePub: That may be the point.
    – palswim
    Commented Dec 29, 2018 at 22:46
  • I'd advocate being careful when using words that may be easily misheard and attract subsequent ire - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niggardly
    – Caius Jard
    Commented Dec 30, 2018 at 20:23

Bête noire is technically a French phrase, but it's been adopted into the English language.


bête noire noun

plural bêtes noires

Definition of bête noire

: a person or thing strongly detested or avoided : BUGBEAR

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