Questions tagged [cliche]

To discuss clichés: overused phrases which have lost meaning

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11
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4answers
2k views

Where did “a racist bone in [one's] body” and “a mean bone in [one's] body” come from?

A recent tweet by the U.S. president includes this assurance: I don't have a Racist bone in my body! A blog post by David Graham, "The One Color the White House Sees Clearly" at The Atlantic ...
3
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1answer
48 views

The Cliché of Using the Phrase “[Subject], and You” in Article Titles

I've noticed articles or news stories often use the phrase "[Subject], and You" in titles. I assume the intention here is creating a personal connection with the readers regarding a topic. For ...
9
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6answers
8k views

What does “Call things by their name” mean?

The Washington Post’s (August 12) article that came under the headline, “Emperor offers a regal critique of Japan’s drift away from pacifism” wraps up with the following episode: “Earlier this year,...
23
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2answers
3k views

“pros and cons”, “black and white”, “ups and downs”. Always in a fixed sequence, is there a word or phrase for these?

Is there a word or phrase for two nouns or adjectives joined by a conjunction (usually "and") in a fixed sequence? alive and well fast and furious hat and gloves pen and pencil ...
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5answers
6k views

Is there an idiom that means to “slow” or “stop the hemorrhaging”?

I have two related words in my head, “flow” and “haemorrhage” (US hemorrhage), but I can't remember the exact phrase (or idiom) that fits perfectly. It should suggest impeding or blocking the flow of ...
16
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5answers
4k views

Origin of “It's a fair cop”

After coming across the following questions, Origin of “All right, what's all this, then?!” and Origin of “Well, well, well. What do we have here?”, my curiosity was piqued to try and discover the ...
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2answers
2k views

Does anyone know an expression that could substitute for “not my first rodeo”? [closed]

Context: stageplay dialogue. Trying to think of an idiom/expression that's less of a cliche. Please and thank you...
4
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5answers
8k views

Where did the phrase “don't spend it all in one store” originate?

I've heard the phrase "don't spend it [money] all in one store" a number of times, virtually always in a joking manner. Where did it originate from and has it always been said as a joke?
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2answers
132 views

What is it called when an idiom is used so out of place that it is ridiculous?

A spokesman for the UK's Department of Food and Rural Affairs seems to be indicating that either DEFRA, the UK population or the whole of humanity are due to say goodbye to planet earth in 2043. A ...
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4answers
4k views

Origin of 'the new normal' as a freestanding phrase

This morning, in a New York Times article called “Waters Warm, and Cod Catch Ebbs in Maine,” the following sentence appears: Fishermen, scientists and regulators often disagree over whether the ...
2
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1answer
206 views

Is “as if” considered a cliche when used in place of “like”? [closed]

I'm playing around with AutoCrit trying to improve something and I was looking at its cliche report. My most flagged one is the phrase "as if". But I use it like this: The whole thing seemed as ...
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3answers
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“Go Green !” : Grammatical Analysis

I have been trying to see what is behind the hyped-up phrase "Go Green" and have asked friends to rephrase that buzz-word/cliche, but nobody has given me a satisfactory explanation of what it actually ...
15
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6answers
19k views

“Just sayin” what?

What are people trying to imply by using the phrase "just saying"? It sometimes seems they are trying to lessen the negative impact of a prior statement, or perhaps adding legitimacy to it. Perhaps it ...
7
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2answers
51k views

Old timers referring to a “bad penny”

What is the source and meaning of "turning up like a bad penny?"
2
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1answer
270 views

What is the best way to avoid using 'people' in writing?

I feel like the word 'people' has become more and more trite from being over used unprofessionally, and doesn't really deliver its intended meaning. For instance: "I often find it necessary to ...
0
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1answer
1k views

The Phrase 'Take a Listen' [closed]

I've noticed the phrase 'take a listen' is used frequently on television by news anchors before playing news clips. Would you consider this usage too colloquial, and possibly a lazy use of language?
2
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1answer
121 views

Is it frowned upon to use another preposition besides 'on' when using 'dwell on'? Would 'dwell over' work?

Someone I know is trying to settle on a particular lyric for a song. The lyric is currently: No more seeking answers to old mysteries No more digging deep into the past No use dwelling ...
3
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3answers
9k views

Is it a poke in the eye with a sharp, or blunt stick?

Is it "better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick", or "better than a poke in the eye with a blunt stick"? I suspect that some sort of metaphor testing facility in the Discworld concluded that ...
0
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2answers
3k views

Does the idiom “Birds of a feather flock together” really mean “Feathers of a bird flock together”?

a) Birds of a feather flock together. That is, birds having the same feather type flock together. Is this the meaning of this idiom? Or could it have been b) Feathers of a bird flock together. ...
0
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1answer
870 views

Is “hit the nail (right) on the head” a cliché in English? [closed]

I've just read on one English-learning page (the page is actually from authors that do not have English as their first language, but mine) that using phrase/idiom "hit the nail (right) on the head" is ...
5
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3answers
109k views

What is a more eloquent way to say “I hope I'm not asking too much”?

I've been emailing back and forth with another professional who has been very generous in sharing a workflow developed at their institution. This professional has gone to great lengths to answer my ...
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2answers
4k views

What is another phrase for the cliche “twists and turns”? [closed]

I am writing a creative writing piece in which I have used the cliche "twists and turns". I need another phrase that I could use so that it does not sound boring. The sentence is, 'The bluff rises ...
5
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2answers
584 views

The use of “rift” in Orwell's “Politics and the English Language”

In Orwell's famous article "Politics and the English Language," he writes: DYING METAPHORS. A newly invented metaphor assists thought by evoking a visual image, while on the other hand a metaphor ...
5
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2answers
896 views

Is there a reference book that lists words by usage or theme?

Similar to how a thesaurus lists synonyms, is there a book that groups words (or phrases) together by conceptual usage? For example, this question is looking for words that describe a person's ...
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3answers
321 views

The act of using a cliché with little consideration for what you're actually saying

How best to say this? I can think of "carelessly" or "throwaway" but suppose the following sentence: "Such clichés are often used with little thought" Is there a better way to say this? Something ...
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2answers
175 views

What makes cliche a useful distinct term as compared to idiom

Some context: I wondered about the distinction between cliche and idiom as seen by EL&U.SE and posted a question on meta (https://english.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/7740/where-does-...
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3answers
9k views

Does the term “witch-hunt” apply when referring to dealing with a real problem?

Should the term "witch hunt" only be used when dealing with a problem that does not exist, as in witchcraft, or does the term also apply when a problem does exist, but those dealing with it are ...
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1answer
59 views

Source of the cliche “[these] diminished times”?

I believe the phrase "diminished times" is a common expression or cliche, maybe a quotation, but I haven't been able to find the source. Is it a cliche, and where does it come from? P.S. After @...
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5answers
560 views

Might sound trivial, but I'm irked by “non-trivial” and seeking alternatives [closed]

Non-trivial. Engineers especially seem to love this expression. Why does it always take me out of the moment? Some of my favorite programmers use this, for example Rich Hickey, the designer of the ...
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4answers
4k views

Why is “head over heels” used as if it were exceptional rather than commonplace?

Most people spend part of each day standing, and if they have normal anatomy their heads are over their heels in this position. Even sitting or lying down, the head is higher than the heels (if not ...
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3answers
1k views

What does “flop out of the box” mean? Is it a popular turn of phrase?

Washington Post (April 9) carries a review of now topical Apple watch under the title, “Should you buy an Apple watch?” It begins with the following statement: This is a good product with a bright ...
1
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1answer
362 views

What to use instead of cliched exaggerated adjectives such as iconic? [closed]

The English language expert at grammar.about.com advises on many occasions against using the word iconic, claiming it is cliched and will make you sound trivial, without saying what to use instead. Is ...
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2answers
470 views

Two minuses make a plus

As English is not my native language, I have a trouble to find the correct way to express the following: Two negations are equivalent to an affirmation properly. This is how it translates from my ...
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11answers
20k views

What on Earth does “cheap at half the price” mean?

I hear this all the time, "cheap at half the price", to indicate that something is cheap (mostly in an ironic sense, but often used literally), but it makes no sense to me. Of course, if something ...
5
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5answers
1k views

What's a nice way to say “fool's errand”?

I have a situation in which i want to say that a particular task i just completed was rather silly, a fool's errand, but i need to phrase it in such a way as it doesn't insult the management team that ...
10
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2answers
463 views

Is there English version of French army cliché, “A friend when you’re lieutenant, companion when captain, … the enemy when you’re general"?

I found a French army cliché; “A friend when you’ re a first lieutenant, a companion when you’re captain, a colleague when you’re major, a rival when you’re colonel, the enemy when you’re general” ...
0
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0answers
48 views

Plural form of a noun vs “many a…” [duplicate]

I just read the sentence "I live in the East Village and see many a person lying in the street at all hours of the day" (for anyone wondering this sentence is referring to New York City). When, if ...
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3answers
14k views

Lost in the Midst vs Mists of Time [closed]

Which of the following is more correct, and why? My attempts at Googling haven't produced a definitive answer, and all seem as sensible as each other going from base definitions. Lost in the mists of ...
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2answers
1k views

Sentence to Indicate Change (That is not a cliché)

I have a sentence that I need to replace; one that is somewhat cliché. What would be a good sentence (Or perhaps a phrase) that could indicate change in a somewhat stale/monotonous environment? ...
9
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5answers
3k views

What other alliterative phrases have become inseparable? [closed]

Just asking out of idle curiousity. There are some words that just always seem to be found together, such as strong, silent type cool, calm and collected cheap and cheerful Can you think ...
7
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3answers
1k views

What is the origin of the phrase “blue moon”? Any alternate phrase for it?

Was just wondering how this phrase came into being? Was it inspired from some natural or astronomical observation? or is it the result of poetic imagination?