Full disclosure: I’m on vacation as of end of business tomorrow. I need this vacation like oxygen. As a matter of fact, my brain is functioning as if it’s a bit oxygen starved right about now.
As a result of being vacation/oxygen deprived for so long, I’ve been finding myself spouting things like “it is what it is” or “we need to think outside the box” or “money doesn’t grow on trees” instead of providing well thought out, intelligent commentary to questions posed by clients, co-workers, and my five-year-old. Clearly, I need to go off and relax a bit so that I can come back refreshed and stop speaking in clichés.
Then I saw this piece in the HuffPost and remembered reading a historical romance recently where the author used a wink, wink variation of “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Anachronistic? Yes. Annoying cliché? Yes. Funny? Mildly.
Thing is, sometimes only a cliché will do (and sometimes repetition is a wonderful literary and oratory device, and sometimes using dialect in a novel is not a criminal offense, but very rarely are those things deployed with enough brilliance and verve to be effective) mostly, however, they make my teeth ache from excessive grinding. Writing well is all about expressing ideas, feelings, emotions, storylines, character development, in original and fresh ways. Using clichés instead of coining a new phrase is about as lazy as you can get as a writer and speaker, in my opinion.
What are your favorite clichés and which ones do you find most egregiously used and misused?