A cliché is a phrase or expression that someone somewhere has expressed as an original thought which becomes overused. According to Graham King in his book Collins Improve your Writing, some clichés go back centuries, for example, left in the lurch dates back to 1576 and comes from the English poet Gabriel Harvey.
It’s common to use clichés when writing and speaking. Having said that (another cliché) , in order to perfect your writing, it is advisable to clean up your work; “go through it with a fine tooth comb” (that’s also a cliché by the way!).
Although you will recognise some expressions as clichés, you may not be so familiar with others, which means that you may not know that you are using them. Graham King’s book, gives pages and pages of clichés, worn-out phrases and stale proverbs so I thought I would look through and confess as to which ones I have used in my writing and speaking:
- First things first
- Having said that
- It will come out in the wash
- Late in the day
- Make a mountain out of a molehill (which at times I can be more guilty of doing rather than writing!)
- Method in his madness
- No news is good news
- No problem
- Set in stone
- Light at the end of the tunnel
- Well-earned rest
I just stopped at 11 because, according to the paragraph that followed the list, a cliché rating of 10 or more makes you a cliché-holic. Oops! Graham King suggests studying the 16+ pages and “promise yourself a thorough “cliché clean out”. Hopefully I haven’t used any clichés in my previous 100 blogs.
Are you guilty of using clichés in your writing?
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Graham King The Collins Improve your Writing, UK
You’re absolutely right! There is nothing that ruins good writing as much as putting in cliches. Thanks for the list!