Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Cliché: many hands make light work

(entered for 01.31.06)

Meaning: everyone sharing the load eases the pain. Origins.
Rewrite 1: a bird in the hand isn’t worth nearly as much as many
Rewrite 2: many shoulders
beartv1 the weight better than just a couple
Rewrite 3: work is always easier when many share the
burden
Rewrite 4: he that shares the load spares the bones

Comment: These rewrites sound almost
Confucian in origin. Be careful if you aren’t looking for a few laughs.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Lend Me Your Clichés: “Television fall review…”

Check out the new
alphabetical list of all my cliché rewrites available in the archive list at the right. To search the page using Internet Explorer, just go to “Edit” in the top menu bar, select “Find”, then enter the cliché or a word from it.

Cliché: it’s in the mail

(entered for 01.30.06)

Meaning: I’ve already taken care of it
Rewrite 1: it’s with your
letter carrier
Rewrite 2: it’s on its way
Rewrite 3: it’s with the
snails
Rewrite 4: it’s done and delivered

Comment: Rewrite 3 may be a little
obscure, but it’s merely meant as a different way of saying “mail” (i.e., snail mail).

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Israelinsider: Deadly clichés of retreat: “Retreat supporters rely on shallow logic to justify what is among the most reckless moves the Jewish State has undertaken since it was created.”

Check out the new
alphabetical list of all my cliché rewrites available in the archive list at the right. To search the page using Internet Explorer, just go to “Edit” in the top menu bar, select “Find”, then enter the cliché or a word from it.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Cliché: if the shoe fits, wear it

(entered for 01.29.06)

Meaning: if the situation applies to you, accept it. Origins and uses.
Rewrite 1: if the shoe fits, wear socks of the same size
Rewrite 2: if you look like a dog, come running when they call
Rewrite 3: if “a” = “b,” and “b” = you, you must be “a” as well
Rewrite 4: You share something in common with a fool. Does that make you a fool, too?

Comment: In rewrite 4, I’ve challenged the conclusions of the original cliché. It’s another way of looking at how to repurpose a cliché.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Use of Clichés in the Modern English Curriculum and Pedagogy: “…if I didn’t get all my clichés out of my essays there was hell to pay…”

Check out the new
alphabetical list of all my cliché rewrites available in the archive list at the right. To search the page using Internet Explorer, just go to “Edit” in the top menu bar, select “Find”, then enter the cliché or a word from it.

Cliché: good to the last drop

(entered for 01.28.06)

Meaning: good from beginning to end. Use examples.
Rewrite 1: as good when you cut the cake as it is when you serve the last piece
Rewrite 2: delicious with every crumb
Rewrite 3: good till it’s gone (or done)
Rewrite 4: well done to the final outcome

Comment: The first two rewrites are more about food, although they can serve as metaphors for other things. The last two are more general and could reference work or objects besides food.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Pajamas Media: “Tired clichés, weak reporting, poor conclusions.”

Check out the new alphabetical list of all my cliché rewrites available in the archive list at the right. To search the page using Internet Explorer, just go to “Edit” in the top menu bar, select “Find”, then enter the cliché or a word from it.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Cliché: back to the salt mines

Meaning: back to hard labor. Use examples.
Rewrite 1: back to
labor camp
Rewrite 2: back to the
plantationorigins
Rewrite 3: back to the ol’
9-to-5
Rewrite 4: back to punching keys in the
binaryn3 mine

Comment: In rewrite 3, I was going more for the sense of the tyranny of the 9-to-5 job which is often perceived to be benal, with few mental challenges. In rewrite 4, I was going for the programming job which is often very demanding, offers long hours, and frequently occurs in deep, dark, dank work areas crowded with people with few social graces and little time to realize any.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Around the Oval: “College football teams as Internet Clichés.”

Check out the new
alphabetical list of all my cliché rewrites available in the archive list at the right. To search the page using Internet Explorer, just go to “Edit” in the top menu bar, select “Find”, then enter the cliché or a word from it.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Cliché: as useful as a lead balloon

(entered for 01.26.06)

Meaning: not very useful.
Rewrite 1: as useful as a
mitt with no fingers
Rewrite 2: as practical as a balloon full of holes
Rewrite 3: as functional as a door without hinges
Rewrite 4: as useful as an
planen4 with no wings

Comment: Think not only inconvenient or useless, but also mightily so. This is a good cliché for sarcasm.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Design clichés: “A run through the most tired and overuse cliches in logo designs…”

Check out the new
alphabetical list of all my cliché rewrites available in the archive list at the right. To search the page using Internet Explorer, just go to “Edit” in the top menu bar, select “Find”, then enter the cliché or a word from it.

Cliché: to pound the pavement

(entered for 01.25.06)

Meaning: to get busy on something.
Idiom.
Rewrite 1: leave
treadn6 marks on the pavement
Rewrite 2: make smoke on the track
Rewrite 3: light a fire under the
skillet
Rewrite 4: whip some air into the
soufflé

Comment: Although this cliché is often used to describe effort in finding employment, it can also mean getting busy. It’s easy to get sidetracked in this one to connote energy rather than action.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Caught in Historical Clichés: By Praful Bidwai. “The current debate on school textbooks, especially history textbooks…”

Check out the new
alphabetical list of all my cliché rewrites available in the archive list at the right. To search the page using Internet Explorer, just go to “Edit” in the top menu bar, select “Find”, then enter the cliché or a word from it.

Cliché: put it on the back burner

(entered for 01.24.06)

Meaning: stopped working on it or gave it lower priority.
Use examples.
Rewrite 1: buried it deep in
storagen1b
Rewrite 2: moved from the oven to the freezer
Rewrite 3: put it back in its plastic packaging
Rewrite 4: locked it in a storage box and mailed myself the key by way of the
Amazon

Comment: In some of the rewrites, I put the emphasis on being out of circulation for a long time, such as “deep in storage” or “by way of the Amazon.” It’s probably more standard to simply take it out of circulation or set it aside without the lengthy wait.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Clichés – Penguin Websites New Zealand: “Some clichés, dead metaphors and overworked expressions in business and government.”

Check out the new
alphabetical list of all my cliché rewrites available in the archive list at the right. To search the page using Internet Explorer, just go to “Edit” in the top menu bar, select “Find”, then enter the cliché or a word from it.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Cliché: you lost me

(entered for 01.23.06)

Meaning: I’m not following your train of thought. Related terms and uses.
Rewrite 1: you left me way back there
Rewrite 2: did I just get off a train running late?
Rewrite 3: you must have arrived way before me, because I don’t get it
Rewrite 4: may I submit a
missing-idea report?
Rewrite 5: Could you put my face on a milk carton, because I’m way lost?

Comment: This one provides a hint of sarcasm, which can be run to write.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Thundering Clichés: “By The Fiction Editors of The Thrilling Detective Web Site.”

Check out the new
alphabetical list of all my cliché rewrites available in the archive list at the right. To search the page using Internet Explorer, just go to “Edit” in the top menu bar, select “Find”, then enter the cliché or a word from it.

Cliché: reopen an old wound

(entered for 01.22.06)

Meaning: remind us of a painful past. Use examples.
Rewrite 1: reopen an old
incision
Rewrite 2: dig for a bullet long ago removed
Rewrite 3: search for a cut healed long ago
Rewrite 4: remind us of a hurt already healed

Comment: Although this cliché relates to physical injuries, it can also mean psychological ones.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
A Zillion Kajillion Rhymes and Clichés: “Eccentric Software, home of A Zillion Kajillion Rhymes and Clichés for Windows and Mac.”

Check out the new
alphabetical list of all my cliché rewrites available in the archive list at the right. To search the page using Internet Explorer, just go to “Edit” in the top menu bar, select “Find”, then enter the cliché or a word from it.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Cliché: old as dirt

Meaning: extremely old. More on dirt.
Rewrite 1: old as the rocks
Rewrite 2: old as
Abraham
Rewrite 3: old as last month’s jokes
Rewrite 4: the
Egyptian antiquities are younger than this

Comment: This cliché is close to the stuff of “he’s so old…” jokes, so it depends on your intent as a writer how serious you make the rewrites. Also, I used “Abraham” in rewrite 2 to span the three main religious groups:
Judaism, Islam, and Christianity to broaden the appeal and the understanding. He was also about 125 years old, old by any human standards.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Caught in historical clichés: from India’s national magazine.

Check out the new alphabetical list of all my cliché rewrites available in the archive list at the right. To search the page using Internet Explorer, just go to “Edit” in the top menu bar, select “Find”, then enter the cliché or a word from it.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Cliché: a pox on both your houses

(also: a plague on both your houses)

Meaning: the same suffering befall everyone involved. Origins and uses.
Rewrite 1: may both of your eyes go blind
Rewrite 2: may you suffer like two cats with tails tied over a clothes line
Rewrite 3: an illness overcome you all
Rewrite 4: you’ve drunk from the same cup, may you suffer the same fate

Comment: It’s been quoted numerous times recently on news programs covering the
Jack Abramoff scandal to describe public opinion on whether the scandal is a bigger problem for Republicans or Democrats.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
I Support Meaningless Jingoistic Cliches: White House parody gift shop.

Check out the new
alphabetical list of all my cliché rewrites available in the archive list at the right. To search the page using Internet Explorer, just go to “Edit” in the top menu bar, select “Find”, then enter the cliché or a word from it.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Cliché: knock it out of the park

Meaning: a successful effort. Use examples.
Rewrite 1: hit it beyond the reach of the “
Green Monster
Rewrite 2: knock it into the parking lot
Rewrite 3: over the roof and out of reach
Rewrite 4: hit it out of state
Rewrite 5: hit it to the moon and back

Comment: It’s fairly easy to pick up sports and space analogies, so be careful you don’t drop one cliché to pick up another.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Adholes Posting: The ultimate list of advertising clichés. (May require logging in or registering.)

Check out the new
alphabetical list of all my cliché rewrites available in the archive list at the right. To search the page using Internet Explorer, just go to “Edit” in the top menu bar, select “Find”, then enter the cliché or a word from it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Cliché: couldn't hit the broad side of a barn

Meaning: lousy aim. Use examples.
Rewrite 1: couldn’t hit the wide side of a broad
barn
Rewrite 2: couldn’t find the
Great Wall of China if you were standing right next to it
Rewrite 3: couldn’t hit a
bull’s eye a mile across
Rewrite 4: couldn’t hit a turkey the size of
Texas

Comment: You’d have to have pretty bad aim if you couldn’t hit any of these. What else would make a hard target to miss?

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
24/7 With the Cliché Expert: “Between 1935 and 1952, the humorist Frank Sullivan wrote a series of essays for The New Yorker in which Mr. Arbuthnot, the cliche expert, testified on the trite expressions and hackneyed phrases of the day.”

Check out the new
alphabetical list of all my cliché rewrites available in the archive list at the right. To search the page using Internet Explorer, just go to “Edit” in the top menu bar, select “Find”, then enter the cliché or a word from it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Cliché: cooking with gas now

Meaning: moving ahead with all due speed. Use examples.
Rewrite 1: cooking with
copper now
Rewrite 2: tapped into
propane now
Rewrite 3: plugged into
current* now
Rewrite 4: we’ve gone
nucleara3 so watch us move now
*scroll down to “current”

Comment: There are lots of different ways to say we’ve turbocharged our efforts and we’re making exceptional progress.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Wine marketing clichés we can do without: MercuryNews.com, “a sampling of the most popular cliches and what the sad realities are.”

Check out the new
alphabetical list of all my cliché rewrites available in the archive list at the right.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Cliché: what's wrong with this picture?

Meaning: something’s wrong here or what are you missing? Alternative use*.
Rewrite 1: what do I see that you don’t?
Rewrite 2: What’s missing from this
picture?
Rewrite 3: This picture’s got four sides and you only see three.
Rewrite 4: who said there is something wrong with this picture?
Rewrite 5: What isn’t in this picture that should be?

Comment: This rewrite presented some challenges. Recasting the idea isn’t as simple as it looks.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Adholes Posting: The ultimate list of advertising clichés. (May require logging in or registering.)

Check out the new
alphabetical list of all my cliché rewrites available at the bottom of the archive list at the right.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Cliché: a tongue-lashing

Meaning: a stiff talking-to. Definition and uses.
Rewrite 1: a word
lashing
Rewrite 2: a vent lashing
Rewrite 3: getting their word’s worth
Rewrite 4: getting their 2-cents worth with a side of
jalapeño

Comment: How many ways can you think to receive (or deliver) a good tongue-lashing?

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Asia Times: First-person account of devastating tsunami in December 2004, citing the clichés that came to mind at the time.

Check out the new
alphabetical list of all my cliché rewrites available at the bottom of the archive list at the right.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Cliché: no skin off my nose

Meaning: it won’t hurt me. Definitions and uses.
Rewrite 1: no skin off my
shin
Rewrite 2: it won’t break any of my bones
Rewrite 3: no knee in the
groin here
Rewrite 4: no burned fingers from this one

Comment: This cliché is often given as a response to a threat or warning, so the rewrite needs to play off as such a response.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
IWJ Journal: Article about website that offers a searchable database of clichés.

Check out the new alphabetical list of all my cliche rewrites available in the archive list at the right.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Cliché: is it soup yet?

Meaning: is it ready? Use examples.
Rewrite 1: is it
soufflé yet?
Rewrite 2: is it off the
grilln2 yet?
Rewrite 3: can I ring the
dinner bell yet?
Rewrite 4: can I call all-
hands yet?

Comment: These rewrites skew to asking about meals, but they can also be a general reference to anything else you’re waiting for.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Handling the common Weight Loss and Dieting cliches and insults: “Overweight and obese people looking to cope with criticism and wanting to learn how to handle the glib clichés and discrimination from their critics…”

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Cliché: get cleaned out

Meaning: to lose everything, especially financially. Use examples.
Rewrite 1: have a
financial enema
Rewrite 2: fed my cash to the trash
Rewrite 3: my wallet’s been turned inside out
Rewrite 4: lost everything but my mind

Comment: As
pedestrian as this cliché is, almost anything else will seem creative, which is where you want to go with this rewrite.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Blogging with Bryan C. Hanks: “Sports clichés. Best prep softball facilities.”

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Cliché: burn your bridges

Meaning: resort to an irreversible decision or sever your attachments. Definitions.
Rewrite 1: nail your doors shut
Rewrite 2: flatten the tires to your
ride home
Rewrite 3: leave yourself without
options
Rewrite 4: destroy your maps back

Comment: This cliché also has a
component of severing relationships.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Literary Voice: Don’t Panic Cliches, but Do Read, Read, Read: “So trying to become aware of the cliches in the language and the ones you use yourself.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Cliché: when hell freezes over

Meaning: when the impossible or improbable happens
Rewrite 1: when
hell floods out
Rewrite 2: when
heaven welcomes Satan
Rewrite 3: when the sun shuts down
Rewrite 4: when ice
flows in the Amazon

Comment: You can be creative here, but it becomes unbelievable if you push the boundaries too far. Also, heaven and hell are often but not always capitalized.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Clichés – English (ESL) Weblog: “A cliché is a group of words that have special meaning…”

Monday, January 09, 2006

Cliché: sweep it under the rug

(entered for 1-09-06)

Meaning: hide something for
nefarious reasons. Definitions and uses.
Rewrite 1:
sweeptv2 it under the sofa
Rewrite 2: drop it into a heating
grate
Rewrite 3: take it
AWOL
Rewrite 4: sweep it into a
black hole

Comment 1: The hard part of this rewrite is to keep the cliché’s sense of intrigue.

Comment 2: When I tried to find a link to a definition for "black hole" for rewrite 4, I went to the California Space Institute website, the link provided by www.answers.com. The results page I received was "Object not found!" How ironic.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
CISAB Animal Proverbs & Cliches: “…from the Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior…”

Cliché: making money hand over fist

(entered for 01.08.06)

Meaning: earning cash fast.
Meaning and examples.
Rewrite 1: making
changen4 with a magnet
Rewrite 2: taking in money with a vacuum cleaner
Rewrite 3: making money faster than the
mint can print it
Rewrite 4: raking in cash faster than a
pickpocket at a charity event

Comment: Think dollar signs and think speed, then be creative.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Clichés in Advertising: “BBC News provide a list of some of the more common clichés in television.”

Cliché: like a knife through hot butter

(for 01.07.06)

Meaning: acts with little resistance. Use examples.
Rewrite 1: like a
prow through the water
Rewrite 2: like a knife through hot soup
Rewrite 3: like a
squeal amid silence
Rewrite 4: like
scissors through fabric

Comment: Nothing cuts through
baloney like a hot metaphor.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Clichés – A poem by May Williams Ward: a poem, although not so much about clichés.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Cliché: waiting for the other shoe to drop

Meaning: expecting the next step to occur, usually with negative consequences. Use examples.
Rewrite 1: waiting for the other door to slam
Rewrite 2: waiting for the over-weighted shelf to fall
Rewrite 3: waiting to see where lightning strikes next
Rewrite 4: waiting in line at the
will-call window, but hoping they're sold out

Comment 1: The more explanation you have to build into the phrase for it to make sense the less effective it is as a metaphor. Rewrite 2 above is close to being too long, although I think it still works.

Comment 2: This cliché has shown up most recently in the wake of the
Jack Abramoff scandal. It was frequently used to describe the fear members of the U.S. Congress and many of their staff feel as a result of Mr. Abramoff’s plea bargain with prosecutors. It was used so frequently, I decided it was an appropriate time to offer some alternative phrases. Thus, this entry.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Cliché Quotes: “Clichés quotes and quotations from BrainyQuote.”

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Cliché: stop on a dime

Meaning: stop short or suddenly. Definition and uses.
Rewrite 1: stop on a
chip
Rewrite 2: stop on the head of a
flea
Rewrite 3: stop on the
tip of a straight pin
Rewrite 4: stop on a
crackn2a

Comment: Think very small, but also think simple and imaginable.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Steve’s Clichés: “Steve’s mixed cliché list.”

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Cliché: not playing with a full deck

(entered for 01.04.06)

Meaning: mentally deficient.
Use examples.
Rewrite 1: working short a
tool or two
Rewrite 2: shuffling with only half a
deck
Rewrite 3: walking on legs with no feet
Rewrite 4: powered by half a battery

Comment: You can have a lot of fun with this one, imagining all the ways someone could be working without a full deck.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Statistical Modeling: “Seven statistical clichés used by baseball announcers.”

Cliché: madder than a wet hen

(entered for 01.03.06)

Meaning: extremely upset.
Use examples.
Rewrite 1: madder than a pig in dry mud
Rewrite 2: madder than a politician with no
pork2
Rewrite 3: more upset than a cook without a stove
Rewrite 4: more distressed than a dog with no
bark

Comment: I tried to stay away from strictly animals, but they make some of the more imaginative metaphors.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
ESL (English as a Second Language) Test: Clichés: test your knowledge of clichés of the English language.

Cliché: get over the hump

(entered for 01.02.06) (Sorry, I was sick over New Years and missed some entries.)

Meaning: get past the hardest part.
Use examples.
Rewrite 1: get beyond Wednesday
Rewrite 2: make it past payday
Rewrite 3: get over the mountain
Rewrite 4: clear the
construction and get to the open road

Comment: There are lots of things with humps, some of which are harder to get over than others. A camel, or instance, has a hump, but you really need to ride the hump rather than get over it.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Literary Voice: Don’t Panic Cliches, but Do Read, Read, Read: “So trying to become aware of the cliches in the language and the ones you use yourself.”

Cliché: a fly in the ointment

(entered for 01.01.06) (Sorry, I was sick over New Years and missed some entries.)

Meaning: something that detracts from something else. Definitions and uses.
Rewrite 1: a fly in the omelet
Rewrite 2: a mark on the page
Rewrite 3: a scratchn1a on the bumper
Rewrite 4: too much salt in the pudding


Comment: This cliché replaces a duplicate that I just discovered. It had become a fly in the ointment of this weblog, so I expunged it.


More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Downpour of Media Cliches Threatens to Flood Nation: (1995) “Once you decode the main cliches, the torrents of media blather will roll off you like water off a duck's back.”

Cliché: a diamond in the rough

(entered for 12.31.05) (Sorry, I was sick over New Years and missed some entries.)

Meaning: not refined or just formed.
Definition and use examples.
Rewrite 1: a
plank badly needing some sanding
Rewrite 2: a gem with no
sparkle1b
Rewrite 3: a tree with its roots still in a ball
Rewrite 4: a road full of
potholes

Comment: The challenge here is to recast about things that aren’t simply broken.

More reading about clichés
What I found when I
googled “clichés”:
Diana Hacker: Language Debates: Cliches: The Bedford Handbook “On the matter of clichés, usage experts take a moderate stance.”