Avoid Cliches like the Plague

A cliché is a phrase or opinion that is overused or displays a lack of original thought. When an audience hears (or reads) a cliché they unconsciously assume that the rest of what has been said and what else is about to be said will also display a lack of original thought and the message, if there is one, will be ignored. George Orwell said “Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.”

Using a cliché isn’t clever and it isn’t amusing. People often use them as they think that it makes their prose more professional or business-like. It doesn’t. If you want your presentations to be heard or your articles to be read try using your own words to describe the thing you’re talking about. Your message will then seem alive and real instead of false and dead. So instead of ‘at the end of the day’, say something that fits the context of what you’re saying. ‘Finally’ may be enough. Instead of ‘at this moment in time’ try ‘currently’ or ‘today’. Endeavour to bin such phrases as ‘with all due respect’ and ‘I hear what you’re saying’ as well as that anathema ’24/7′. Using default chunks of cliché is the opposite of poetry.

Some other dastardly favourites are ‘on a weekly basis’ instead of ‘every week’ or ‘going forward’ instead of simply a pause. A bad writer or speaker is always telling us everything is ‘literally’ or ‘basically’ something or that they are ‘being honest’ or even worse ‘being perfectly honest’ – so was everything you said earlier a lie?

My pet hate has to be the need so many people have to avoid personal pronouns (I, me and you) as if they feel they might offend. So they’ll say, ‘can I get this for yourself?’, ‘Speaking personally myself…’ or ‘Myself and John’. It’s simply John and I.

Basically I bet now you’re beginning to feel like you’re caught between a rock and a hard place. It’s time to literally wake up and smell the coffee. Using language creatively is not rocket science. Rocket science is the scientific study of propulsion using explosive chemicals. That is what rocket science is and we all know that. It is not anything else you may like to compare it to. So let’s just say ‘it’s not complicated’ instead.

For more see:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s