Is it Rude to Say Whatever?

Many English-speaking natives have the habit to reply to certain statements (or situations) with a simple “whatever”. 

Sometimes the reply is meant in a dismissive manner, other times it’s a replacement for “I don’t care”. 

… but is it rude to say whatever? Read on below and discover the full truth to this question!

Is it Rude to Say Whatever?

The phrase “whatever” is used in more ways than one, sometimes it is perceived as rude, and other times it’s more than acceptable.

When used as a reply to a question, or statement, whatever isn’t often considered rude. Rather, it is interpreted as something like “whatever will be”, “whatever you like”, or “I don’t care”.

Using whatever as an interjection while someone is talking to you is when the term is most often viewed as rude and uncalled for.

By stopping someone mid-sentence with a “whatever”, you are more or less telling said person that you don’t care what they have to say (because if you did, you would let them finish, after all).

How Rude Is it?


On the rude meter’s scale of 1 to 10, saying whatever to someone, in general, rates 7

The primary reason that saying whatever to someone rates more than halfway up on the rude meter is that there is almost always something better to say.

In other words, whether you are replying to someone, or want to stop them in the middle of what they are saying to you, there are much better ways to go about it than simply blurting out whatever to them.

Why is it Rude?

Telling someone whatever isn’t always rude, but when it is, it is often extremely rude. 

Saying “whatever” to someone, especially before they have finished what they are telling you, is the rudest.

On the other hand, saying whatever to someone, as a short cut for “whatever you want is fine with me” (or something along those lines) is perfectly acceptable.

Common Questions

What does “whatever” really mean?

Whatever means many different things depending on who you are talking to, the tone of the conversation, and what you actually mean by it. 

Most times, it means literally what it sounds like… you don’t care about something. 

Whether it is a set of choices that have been presented to you and you don’t have a perforation or information you don’t care about, saying “whatever” is a common reply.

Is it mean to say whatever?

It isn’t mean to say whatever, in general. However, depending on the way you use it, and the tone of your voice, saying whatever to someone can indeed come off as rude and hurtful.

How to reply to someone saying whatever?

There is no rule for how you should reply to someone who says “whatever” to you. 

Each individual circumstance must be examined and understood in order to know how to reply. 

For example, if you ask someone whether they want to have chili with cinnamon rolls for lunch, or spaghetti and meatballs, and they reply with “whatever”, you could reply by letting them know which choice you’ve made.