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Avoid Clichés Like the Plague, Part 2

The endless supply of clichés our language grants us is a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it gives me a virtually endless list for blog entries, but it’s a curse because there are so many, and it makes us sound less intelligent when we use these trite words or phrases:

lost the battle with cancer — Battle is defined as “a general encounter between armies, ships of war or airplanes.”  You die of cancer. Yes, I can see why people call it a battle: The chemotherapy is extremely difficult, and many cancers move swiftly through one’s body, and the body’s defenses can’t stop it. But it’s still a cliché.

calls it quits — You just quit. Who literally calls it quits? Imagine somebody walking around the office shouting, “Quits! Quits!”

dire straits — Only if you refer to the band fronted by Mark Knopfler.

dream turns into a nightmare — This is on par with “It was a dark and stormy night…”

early-morning hours — This is redundant as well as cliché. You only need “early morning.” Better yet, name the time, 1 a.m., 2 a.m., etc.

final goodbyes — Much of the time, “goodbye” is the final thing you say to someone.

it is what it is — I’m guilty of using this one when I’m feeling especially existential. Bill Clinton might be able to tell us what “is” is.

rain fails to dampen — By definition, rain will dampen something physical. “Spirits,” which people often say rain fails to dampen, relates to emotion, and emotions can’t be dampened. They can change, or they can be. But they can’t be dampened.

rushed to the hospital — When does anyone with an emergency casually saunter to the hospital, or slowly make their way to the hospital, or hop, skip and jump to the hospital, etc.

makeshift memorial — There’s no such thing. It’s a memorial, no matter how, when or where it’s constructed.

Until next time! Use the right words!


November 2, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , ,

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