Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cliché: between a rock and a hard place

Meaning: between difficult choices or hard decisions (example)

Rewrite 1: between a wreck and a run-in
Rewrite 2: between the pool ball and the cue stick
Rewrite 3: between a hammer and a nail head
Rewrite 4: between an excuse and a rationale
Rewrite 5: between a lake and loch

Comment: At the end, I took this from being about being caught between difficult situations to looking at situations that are called something different but are really very much alike. That covers some slight perversions of the use of the idiom.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cliché: as the crow flies

Meaning: in a straight line, by the shortest route (as a crow would fly) (example)

Rewrite 1: as the plane flies
Rewrite 2: as the gaggle travels
Rewrite 3: as the wind flows
Rewrite 4: as the clouds cross
Rewrite 5: as the stars pass overhead

Comment: Crows fly place to place versus some of the examples I've given, which are things that over, thus avoiding turns, hills, valleys, detours, etc. Planes do apply to the original example, because they fly directly place to place, although not so much if they end up stacking over a landing site. So, be careful of your metaphors. The important thing is getting there directly, in as short a route as possible.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Cliché: zip it!

Meaning: close or shut as with a zipper, usually a directive for the mouth or voice

Rewrite 1: staple it!
Rewrite 2: sew it!
Rewrite 3: clamp it!
Rewrite 4: crimp it!
Rewrite 5: glue it!
Rewrite 6: press it!

Comment: There are many ways to secure something that you can use as exchanges for this less common idiom. Keep in mind that there are other uses for the phrase, too. In the technological age, it may be a reference to the ZIP drive and in the non-technological sense it may be a reference to speeding something along, as by speeding the mail using the ZIP code.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cliché: your goose is cooked

Meaning: you're done in, in trouble; your cause is lost (example 1example 2)

Rewrite 1: your potatoes are mashed
Rewrite 2: your steak is fried
Rewrite 3: your chocolate has melted
Rewrite 4: the letter is mailed
Rewrite 5: the words are in print

Comment: "Your goose is cooked" often has an almost fatalist quality to it suggesting consequences will follow and now your fate is decided. I've written a range of possible recasts that go from the simple "something devastating has happened" to the "something is now beyond your control" quality, but there is a fuller range you could explore.

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Sorry I was unable to slay more clichés this week. Too many things happened this week that prevented it -- I have higher hopes for next week! 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cliché: a wet blanket

Meaning: Someone who or something that discourages (example 1) (example 2)

Rewrite 1: a warm, dank night
Rewrite 2: a cold sheet on a cold night
Rewrite 3: a power outage at a gamer con
Rewrite 4: a tire mired in mud

Comment: "A warm blanket" is an evocative metaphor for something that discourages, in this case, that dampens or smothers enthusiasm. I was initially going for other things that evoked a sense response, then broadened the meaning to other situations that might discourage by getting in the way or interrupting progress.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Cliché: watching the clock

Meaning: eager to leave or stop doing something (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: watching the sweep hand
Rewrite 2: listening for the timer to beep
Rewrite 3: watching for the sun to set
Rewrite 4: looking for "the end"
Rewrite 5: looking for an article stop

Comment: I looked for things besides an actual clock that represented the end to something, thus: the sweep hand of a clock that ticked off minutes, the sound of a timer that signaled the end of a specific time, the words that often signal the end of a movie, and the graphic device some publications use to show that an article stops.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cliché: up the ante

Meaning: increase the cost, size, or importance of something especially something of risk (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: up the price of admission
Rewrite 2: increase the down payment
Rewrite 3: accelerate your buy-in
Rewrite 4: tinker with the ticket
Rewrite 5: graduate the anxiety level
Rewrite 6: pump up the game

Comment: Most of these involve the cost, but there is far more room to recast size or importance. 

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Cliché: take the bull by the horns

Meaning: confront a difficult problem head on or confidently tackle a difficult problem (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: Take the rhino by the horn
Rewrite 2: Take the lion by the mane
Rewrite 3: Grab the rottweiler by the whiskers
Rewrite 4: Stand your ground against the tremor
Rewrite 5: Face the gale and damn the flood

Comments: Obviously, these are all metaphorical. I wouldn't want any of you to stand before an approaching tornado in the hope of out-nerving it, for instance.

Don't forget to check the alphabetic listing of cliches I've already rewritten. Look in the nav bar just below the title.

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cliché: take the gloves off

Meaning: play or act more aggressively, less guardedly (example)

Rewrite 1: take the padding off
Rewrite 2: shed the wuss pads
Rewrite 3: drop the kiddie protectors
Rewrite 4: play to lose some skin
Rewrite 5: resort to roughy rules

Comment: I've written to the idea of dropping artificial protectants, using more sarcastic language, but it doesn't have to be that way. You could just as easily work it toward more natural conditions or more agile play. Ask yourself what the gloves represent and what taking them off means in your circumstance.

Check out the new alphabetic list, now built into the navigation in my blog. I'm still working with the format.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cliché: shoestring budget

Meaning: limited resources or of lowest financial means (example)

Rewrite 1: second-hand budget
Rewrite 2: single-flower budget
Rewrite 3: staples funds
Rewrite 4: hand-me-down reserves
Rewrite 5: do-it-yourself plan

Comment: This cliché is full of opportunity for rewrites and recasting, and in today's economy there is likely ample reason to, with so many stories of people cutting back on spending or trimming luxuries. 

Check out the searchable alphabetical list of my cliché rewrites with my archived list.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cliché: a real toad strangler

Meaning: overwhelmingly heavy rain or other overwhelming circumstance

Rewrite 1: a real guppy gusher
Rewrite 2: a real worm drowner
Rewrite 3: a real line snapper 
Rewrite 4: a real bag burster

Comment: The idiom here suggests that the rain is so heavy it could overwhelm even an amphibian used to living in or near water. It could be used to suggest other things that might overwhelm something otherwise at home in that environment. So, a rewrite should fit in that sense. A recast could take an opposite tack or simply suggest a different kind of overwhelming circumstance.

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Cliché: quiet as a mouse

Meaning: nearly noiseless (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: quiet as a worm
Rewrite 2: silent as a spider
Rewrite 3: calamitous as a cotton ball
Rewrite 4: noisy as drying paint

Comment: Sometimes said as "still as a mouse," so you could also use that as another variation. Also note that in the third and fourth rewrites that I took an opposite tack.

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. . .

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Cliché: pass the buck

Meaning: avoid responsibility by passing it along to another (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: pass the deal
Rewrite 2: pass the trouble
Rewrite 3: hand off the dynamite
Rewrite 4: string you some worry beads

Comment: The key to recasting this cliché is recognizing its origins and playing around with its essence, then try to take it as far from the original as possible. 

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Friday, March 05, 2010

Cliché: off the cuff

Meaning: impromptu response; quick response with little thought (example 1, example 2)

Comment: There are two senses of this idiom. One is of the quick response to something, the "off the cuff remark." 

Rewrite 1: off the sunbeam
Rewrite 2: out of the clouds
Rewrite 3: brain spark

Another is the seeming impromptu response that is actually the result of more cunning thinking, the "off the cuff quote."

Rewrite 4: off the palm (notes in your palm)
Rewrite 5: off the ceiling (figuring in your head and looking at the ceiling while calculating)
Rewrite 6: one-eye count (a facial expression assumed while calculating)

The recast depends more on the sense you're using. How would you rewrite it?

Check out the searchable alphabetical list of my cliché rewrites with my archived list.

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Cliché: nerves of steel

Meaning: unwavering courage (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: nerves of neutronium
Rewrite 2: titanium resolve
Rewrite 3: concrete courage
Rewrite 4: hard-wired will

Comments: Think unyielding metal or rocky resolve.

Check out the searchable alphabetical list of my cliché rewrites with my archived list.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Cliché: make ends meet

Meaning: to live within one's means.

Rewrite 1: make dollar bills cover the paper bills
Rewrite 2: hope coins cover charges
Rewrite 3: ensure pluses equal minuses
Rewrite 4: keep the bottom line above the bottom line
Rewrite 5: make the sums cover the differences

Comments: The origins of this idiom are a little obscure. Are they from bookkeeping or tailoring? How you recast such a cliché may be affected by its origins, although in this instance I've aimed more at its literal meaning.

Check out the searchable alphabetical list of my cliché rewrites with my archived list.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Cliché: look what the cat dragged in

Meaning: Surprised (sometimes feigned) reaction to a mess or uncomfortable situation either brought in or caused by someone. (example)

Rewrite 1: Look what the dog dumped on our doorstep
Rewrite 2: Look what Poppa brought home
Rewrite 3: Look what the birds dropped on the window
Rewrite 4: Look what scurried under the door

Comment: Often considered simply an idiom instead of a cliché, but it's still overused and could be rewritten.

Check out the searchable alphabetical list of my cliché rewrites with my archived list.