Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Cliches of the Day

Martha Gellhorn (bet you're sick of me writing about her) once wrote that one of the difficulties of writing was holding the ever-present insufferable cliche at bay (very loose paraphrase.) Thinking about this has made me self-conscious of my use of cliches lately, and to combat what might turn into an abandonment of any attempts at colorful phrases I've decided to try to categorize some cliches into ones I'm okay with and ones that are truly, as Gellhorn states, insufferable.

10 Clichés I Like:

Gilding the lily
Whatever floats your boat
Preaching to the choir
Master of all he/she surveys
Six and a half dozen the other
Silence is golden
Up the creek without a paddle
Try walking a mile in my shoes
His elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top
Cat got your tongue?

10 Clichés I Don’t Like

Gentle reader
If you’re not with us you’re against us.
What comes around goes around (actually I kind of like this one sometimes)
Put up or shut up
Like, whatever…
The proof’s in the pudding (this is based on personal prejudice, I had a bad Biology teacher who always said it)
You can dish it out but you can’t take it
Get a life
Talk to the hand
So long Suckas

The fact that I like a cliche doesn't mean I will use it, I'll try to avoid them like all the others. But I hope some of them will stick around because there is often, in my mind, no better way to express the sentiment.


Charlotte said...

I love your list of cliches and agree with all the ones you like, except for the elevator one which I hadn't heard before.

The cliche I loathe above all others, and it's quite innocent of itself but has suffered terrible over-use in the British Isles particularly, is "at the end of the day". It's usually used to sum up some subjective and smug argument, and has me, so to speak, fleeing for the hills.

imichie said...

Yes! "at the end of the day." It's kind of like, "when all is said and done," but more annoying. Another one we use a lot over here is "we need to get on the same page." I don't like it but I have used it a I have to admit.

Froshty said...

My main issue is with horrible business cliches: like "let's touch base," or "I'm calling to give you a head's up" or "If you get that done, then we'll be good to go" or my least favorite, "We need to walk the walk..."

imichie said...

Froshty, "We need to walk the walk" bugs me to no end, but "we need to stay a step ahead" is okay with me for some reason.

Emily Barton said...

I love things that are "old hat." But I can't stand to "think outside the box," and I'm sorry, but "money [doesn't] talk" to me.

imichie said...

Here's a couple more that I like. "The jury is still out on that" and "make hay whilst the sun shines." I think that's how you spell whilst.

linser said...

I like the old timers like "there's something rotten in Denmark" and "he was on it like a duck on a junebug." I don't like the business ones either, like "we need to back up and punt on this one." Did anyone see the New Yorker cartoon that had the guy telling the cat as he pointed to the litter box, "Never, ever think outside the box."