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I'm trying to write something for my blog, and I need an idiom that will replace me saying, "I've heard people say that all the time, it's the same old story."

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Change the record (a little abrupt) : Macmillan has 'change the record (SPOKEN) used for telling someone to stop talking about the same thing because they are annoying you' – Edwin Ashworth Aug 20 '14 at 21:57
If you want to be a little more original you could borrow the Italian idiom E' sempre la solita minestra which means: "It's always the same soup/pasta dish" :) – Mari-Lou A Aug 20 '14 at 23:13
That particular dead horse has been kicked around the block a few times. – Wayfaring Stranger Aug 21 '14 at 0:05

17 Answers 17

Consider clichéd, meaning “repeated so often that it has become stale or commonplace; hackneyed” – wiktionary and trite, meaning “Worn out; hackneyed; used so many times that it is no longer interesting or effective (often in reference to a word or phrase)” – wiktionary.

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It's interesting that both of your definitions include the word 'hackneyed', yet you don't suggest it. – Magus Aug 21 '14 at 14:44
@Magus, unfortunately I got sidetracked by actual work while writing my answer. – jwpat7 Aug 21 '14 at 16:53
Perfectly understandable. – Magus Aug 21 '14 at 17:05
@Magus Hackneyed, while a wonderful word, is used deplorably infrequently, and so might also leave many people in the dark as to what it is you actually mean if you use it in conversation. – Dave Coffman Aug 22 '14 at 14:03
@DaveCoffman: If we avoided words because people mightn't understand them, no conversation would ever take place. – Magus Aug 22 '14 at 14:27

You sound like a broken record.

to say the same thing over and over again. (Fig. on a scratch in a phonograph record causing the needle [or stylus] to stay in the same groove and play it over and over.) Last edited by Grefsen; 4th August 2013 at 9:59 PM. Re: sounding like a broken (scratched) record.

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This is appropriate if it's the same person, but not if it's just common more generally. – Barmar Aug 25 '14 at 19:38

According to Christine Ammer, The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms (1997), one potentially relevant idiom is "old chestnut":

old chestnut A stale joke, story, or saying, as in Dad keeps on telling that old chestnut about hgow many psychiatrists it takes to change a light bulb. This expression comes from William Diamond's play, The Broken Sword (1816), in which one character keeps repeatingthe same stories, one of them about a cork tree, and is interrupted each time by another character who says "Chestnut, you mean ... I have heard you tell the joke twenty-seven times and I am sure it was a chestnut."

So you could replace "I've heard people say that all the time, it's the same old story" with "That old chestnut again!"

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+1 Very nice to get the history of the idiom :) I'm not sure we ever really use the word again with it though. – Araucaria Aug 21 '14 at 13:02
I think you're right, Araucaria, that the idiom generally appears without again. I just ran a Google Books search for "that old chestnut again" and found 64 relevant matches since 1950—but only one match before 1950. I'm sure that occurrences of the phrase "that old chestnut" without again are many times more common, even in the past 50 years. – Sven Yargs Aug 21 '14 at 14:38

The phrase is tired or well-worn or old hat or...

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There is nothing new under the sun may convey the idea you want to express:

  • Everything that is happening now has happened before. The newspaper today is shocking. Three prominent politicians have been convicted of fraud. Jane: That's not shocking. It only proves that there's nothing new under the sun.


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Of course it doesn't actually "prove" anything of the sort. – Lightness Races in Orbit Aug 22 '14 at 12:17

There is an idiomatic phrasal verb that you can use and rephrase your sentence accordingly.

It is wheel out.

to mention or to use someone or something that has been mentioned or used many times before, often so many times that people are now bored with them

They still wheel her out at every party conference.


(wheel something on/out) informal Produce something that is unimpressive because it has been frequently seen or heard before:

the old journalistic arguments have been wheeled out


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To the extent that you wish to convey a boring repetition of well known material, consider yadda yadda yadda (or yada yada yada)

Used as a substitute for actual words where they are too lengthy or tedious to recite in full: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, yadda yadda yadda [Oxford Dictionary Online]

Similarly blah blah blah [Dictionary.com]

You might say

It's the same old yadda yadda yadda.

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An "old saw" is an oft-repeated to the point of being somewhat tiresome idea or maxim. It's well known enough that UPenn doesn't mind using it as the title of a translation of a Kant essay... http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/997.html

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I like this because of the relationship of saw to say: etymonline.com/index.php?term=saw – Matt Gutting Aug 22 '14 at 14:25

Reading your question brings to my mind the expression:

If I had a dime for every time I heard that one I'd be rich by now.

or some more clever, funny outcome.

See http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=If%20I%20had%20a%20dime%20for%20every%20time for more examples.

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If I had a dime for every time I heard If I had a dime ... – bib Aug 21 '14 at 16:42

I always liked Yogi Berra's "It's déjà vu all over again." It really builds in the sense of repetitiveness.

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Thanks for the smile, Nancy. Having no idea who Yogi Berra was, I Googled and found a few quotes. – andy256 Aug 27 '14 at 23:37

In some contexts, "been there, done that, wore the shirt" is a common way to express that a suggestion has been tried so often that it's almost a trope by now.

been there, done that, bought the T-shirt

(idiomatic, humorous) Expresses the speaker's complete familiarity with a situation, with overtones of cynicism or exhaustion.

(Used in slightly different phrasing on Wiktionary than I usually see.)

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The Wiktionary phrasing is only phrasing I've ever seen until I read your answer. Are you sure you didn't simply mishear it in youth? – Lightness Races in Orbit Aug 22 '14 at 12:18
Yes, I am very certain as I dont recall ever actually hearing the phrase uttered, only that I read it. Admittedly not in high-profile publications. I always mapped the extension "… wore the shirt" to be a joke at the expense of all the "… and all I got was this stupid shirt" shirts. – Cornelius Aug 22 '14 at 17:03
My assumption is that there has been some diverging "folk etymology" in a small subculture or other and I happend to be in the smaller circle. But that, too, is wild guesswork at best. – Cornelius Aug 22 '14 at 17:04
"and all I got was this stupid shirt" postdates "been there done that", not the other way around. – Lightness Races in Orbit Aug 23 '14 at 14:15
Yes, indeed. (Not that I claimed it came before, given I was only talking about either continuing it with "… bought the shirt" or "… wore the shirt".) – Cornelius Aug 24 '14 at 23:55

If it's essentially the same, with only trivial variations. then you can go with:

Same shit different day

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... or old news or yesterday's news or ...

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For a less derisory and more literal term, you could use oft

oft adj. archaic or literary form of often.

The politician used the oft repeated, but misinformed factoid, that global temperatures haven't increased in 17 years.

Consider also: often said, oft cited.

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"Oy vey again!", comes to mind too.

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Another possibility beyond the excellent ones already mentioned is to say, "I've heard it ad nauseaum", which idiomatically and literally (well, once you translate the Latin) means "I've heard it enough to cause nausea."

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Also consider old bromides and old platitudes as terms for often-repeated phrases or stories.

From wiktionary, bromide means “A platitude [eg] We hoped the speech would include reassurances, but instead it was merely one bromide after another”.

Also from wiktionary, platitude means “An often-quoted saying that is supposed to be meaningful but has become unoriginal or hackneyed through overuse; a cliché”.

A somewhat-clichéd phrase sometimes used with bromides is “trotting out all the old bromides”. Here are three examples:

• ... these same people trot out all the old bromides that have held women back for years ... [washingtonpost.com, 16 Sept 2008 letters, Sandy Miller]
• ... When Governor Christie claims “We can’t afford it” ... public employees ... latch onto the ‘it’ part and trot out the old bromides: ... [burypensions.wordpress blog, 31 July 2014]
• You can even trot out that old bromide about skybusters ruining the shooting for you steady types, and he'll say, isn't it a shame. [Field & Stream, Feb 1969, p. 20]

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