Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with michaelalexanderchaney
“These sayings took hold because they bespoke the warped consciousness of a whole people during the infancy of their social contract. Do you want to see civilization’s baby pictures? Take a long cold hard look at a cliché and then say goo-goo gah-gah.” Clichés I Don’t Get
I chuckled from the bird in the bush to the one in the hand and back again, going as the crow flies, and killing two birds with one stone, I got to know his piece like the back of my hand, which nearly slapped me silly as I did my best to avoid getting drunk as a skunk in the process.
You get the idea. Clichés. The bane of writers everywhere.
I can tell you now that I have a handwritten collection of nine hundred and eight clichés to avoid, and I’m pretty sure that my list only scratches the surface. He-he. See what I did there?
I’m sure you all know what a cliché is, but I’d like to be thorough, just in case a novice comes across this post and would like a quick definition.
A cliché is an expression or idea that has become trite due to overuse. They come from all over the world, have different interpretations contingent on cultural knowledge and identity, and are – as we are all well aware – a popular form of expression.
Some clichés are used to describe time, as for example:
- Time will tell: something will revealed or elucidated over time
- In the nick of time: when something happens just in time
- The time of my life: instead of a really great time
There are a plethora of clichés used to describe people, such as:
- As old as the hills: very old
- Fit as a fiddle: someone in great shape
- Weak as a kitten: a very weak person.
Even our inner life is one for clichés:
- Opposites attract: people who like different things and have different views are likely to fall in love
- Scared out of my wits & Frightened to death : being very frightened
- All is fair in love and war: you can do whatever you have to in order to conquer someone’s heart
- All’s well that ends well: if there were problems along the way, it doesn’t matter as long as there is a happy ending
They all became clichés for a reason. They are a convenient expression shortcut. However, these overused phrases can also be a barrier to communication. When a reader comes across a cliché, they start tuning out and may even miss the message we are trying to get across.
I refer you here to George Orwell’s advice, which I believe is as pertinent today, as it was when first pronounced: “Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.”
“At the end of the day” is one that gets my blood boiling, as well as the constant use of “like” as if it were a form of punctuation. “To the bitter end” gets another big NO from me. Also, I cannot stand “That’s ironic”, “virtually” or “literally” when misused. It makes me want to scream “I will literally kill you if you keep saying that!”
There are other repetitions which may not be exactly clichés, but which for me certainly read that way. For example, I will literally die 😉 if I see another exhibition of a “burning gaze”, “looking though thick eyelashes”, “wry smile”, “rearing of an ugly head”, yet another “dumb blonde” and that oh-so-annoying “OMG” in print.
If only walls could talk, they’d tell those cliché lovers to think outside the box and stop chasing their tail or that’ll be the nail in the coffin of their literary career. Walls would of course attempt to communicate in a language intelligible to repeat offenders. To those who are beginners in their craft, they may adapt their language and presumably would find a way to say all this without using clichés.
Which clichés do you find the most annoying?
I’m sure you must have a few favourites at least.
Now I very much doubt that Michael will see my picking this as the topic of today’s Let’s Talk Opinion as the equivalent of taking candy from a baby, although I did feel like a kid in the candy store when I visited his blog earlier today. Just killing time, I thought, but it was certainly a game-changer and I soon realised that comedy like that comes once in a blue moon. That’s that. Cat got my tongue! 😉
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