Monday, May 31, 2010

Cliché: get a room

Meaning: suggestion to stop inappropriate displays of affection (example)

Rewrite 1: move it to the bedroom
Rewrite 2: should we get our own room?
Rewrite 3: put a wrap on that present and give it as a gift later
Rewrite 4: freeze that pose and we'll put it on display at the art museum
Rewrite 5: isn't that a scene written for film ... an X-rated film?

Comment: This cliché is usually repeated with some sarcasm, so the rewrites are presented in the same tone. 

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Retorts and other come-back lines
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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cliché: get a life

Meaning: focus on something more worthwhile (example)

Rewrite 1: get a new hobby
Rewrite 2: find a different obsession
Rewrite 3: joust with a different windmill 
Rewrite 4: dude, read a book, play a game, go into a coma, but drop this, okay?
Rewrite 5: Obi-Wan says, "This isn't the cause you were looking for...move along!"

Comment: This cliché is usually a put down, so I rewrote with that in mind.

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Things you wish you'd thought to say or write
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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cliché: get an earful, to

Meaning: hear a lot of feedback or ideas (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: get an ear-jamming
Rewrite 2: heard enough to plug an ear
Rewrite 3: received enough suggestions to dam an ear canal
Rewrite 4: got an earache of ideas
Rewrite 5: received too much input - the other white noise

Comment: Although "get an earful" doesn't have to have a negative connotation, it often does. These are fairly neutral but all weigh in on the side of being overwhelmed.

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Speaking and writing more eloquently
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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cliché: make a federal case of

Meaning: blow something out of proportion (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: go federal on me
Rewrite 2: appeal it to the high court
Rewrite 3: take me to the EPA
Rewrite 4: max the volume
Rewrite 5: peg my needle

Comment: I varied the references from law, to regulatory environment, to sound, to any kind of measurement where "peg" and "needle" refer to an analog metering device in which you want to keep the result below the red level and going into the red is called pegging. This provides a wide diversity of experiences. You can probably imagine many more.

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Words for making a federal case
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Monday, May 24, 2010

Cliché: filthy rich

Meaning: exceptionally rich, probably by dishonest means (example)

Rewrite 1: stenchly riches
Rewrite 2: fetid wealth
Rewrite 3: tainted pennies
Rewrite 4: rotted prosperity
Rewrite 5: a lode of ill repute

Comment: Most uses of this idiom haven't the connotation of ill favor. Likely, they think the "filthy" comes from how disgustingly dirty money becomes in its various visits to strange places.

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How to write for money people
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Effective Writing: A Handbook for Finance People

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cliché: fat as a cow (pig)

Meaning: literally, big as a cow (or pig), carrying excessive fat (example)

Rewrite 1: huge as a hippo
Rewrite 2: stout as a sumo
Rewrite 3: plump as an Easter feaster
Rewrite 4: big as a bassoon
Rewrite 5: corpulent as a vat of lard
Rewrite 6: wide as the rings of a big city circus

Comment: I varied the recast from big to fat to wide to provide ample examples.

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Professional writing
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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cliché: fall guy, the

Meaning: scapegoat, person who takes the fall or fault for something (example 1, example 2, example 3)

Rewrite 1: the faultee
Rewrite 2: the tag victim
Rewrite 3: the tar rag
Rewrite 4: Mr. take-it-for-the-team
Rewrite 5: winner, the blame game

Comment: These may be more obscure than "the fall guy" reference.

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Decoding obscure references
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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cliché: fair haired one (boy)

Meaning: favored or especially promising one or the favorite (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: handsome-faced one
Rewrite 2: pretty-faced one
Rewrite 3: well proportioned one
Rewrite 4: well mannered one
Rewrite 5: mister do-no-wrong 
Rewrite 6: miss blemish-free

Comment: I couldn't find an original reference for this, but I suspect this idiom hearkens back to a fixation on kids with light colored or fair colored hair. Many such clichés stem from a jealousy of such people and so I tied my rewrites to people who are seen as favorites because of attributes tied to their looks and beyond their own control - fair hair, good looks, clear skin, good proportions. 

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Reading for sarcasm
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Friday, May 07, 2010

Cliché: fast buck, a

Meaning: easy money, often illegally gained (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: a fast dollar
Rewrite 2: a quick nickel
Rewrite 3: fast finger funds
Rewrite 4: quick turn-around cash
Rewrite 5: magic money
Rewrite 6: now-you-see-it sums
Rewrite 7: dinero diablo (or devil money)

Comment: A fast buck can be earned quickly and easily plus legally. A kid who earns five bucks for plowing sidewalks in the winter makes a fast buck legally and morally, and the first two rewrites more support that notion.

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Turn a phrase, turn a few heads
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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Cliché: fair weather friend, a

Meaning: a friend during the good times (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: clear-sky buddy
Rewrite 2: sunny times acquaintance
Rewrite 3: open bar reveler
Rewrite 4: bonus time colleague
Rewrite 5: glowing review co-star

Comment: I tried to envision both a range of good times and of friends to provide plenty of examples. I'll bet you can think of even more. 

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Ideas for writing
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Monday, May 03, 2010

Cliché: chatty Cathy

Meaning: someone who won't stop talking (how to deal with, modern manners)

Rewrite 1: chattering Charlene
Rewrite 2: windy Wendy
Rewrite 3: gabby Gabe
Rewrite 4: wordy Warren
Rewrite 5: loquacious Lou
Rewrite 6: amiable Amy
Rewrite 7: genial Jen

Comments: Although this cliché often has a negative tone ("someone who won't shut up," defined the Urban Dictionary), it can also take on a more civil and appreciative feel, as when describing someone who is overly exuberant or gregarious. To suit the dual nature of the cliché, varied the second half of the rewrites.

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Meet the doll named for the jabbering person
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