Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cliché: hump day

Meaning: Wednesday, day mid-week that gets you over the "hump" (example)

Rewrite 1: camel back day
Rewrite 2: road bump day
Rewrite 3: leaf pile day
Rewrite 4: Bell Curve day
Rewrite 5: high jump day
Rewrite 6: leap frog day

Comment: At first I thought of other kinds of humps or bumps or piles you get over, then I thought of obstacles you go over to get to the other side. There are lots of creative ways to say "I'm half way over the week."

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For when you run out of words
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cliché: get into hot water

Meaning: get into trouble (example)

Rewrite: gulp hot coffee
Rewrite: dive into boiling water
Rewrite: skinny dip in a scalding pool
Rewrite: ride some white water
Rewrite: cross a river at a deep spot

Comment: There are lots of ways to use water as a metaphor for getting into trouble and I've attempted to use some of them here.

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How they might say it at sea
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Monday, December 27, 2010

Cliché: hot enough to fry an egg

Meaning: ambient or surface temperature is extreme

Rewrite 1: hot enough to steam an egg
Rewrite 2: hot enough to fry a burger
Rewrite 3: hot enough to grill a cheese sandwich
Rewrite 4: hot enough to broil a steak
Rewrite 5: hot enough to melt steel
Rewrite 6: so hot you could prep s'mores on the sidewalk!

Comment: It's usually said to indicate how hot a surface is, such as a sidewalk or car hood, but it could also apply to how hot the air is or how hot the day is.

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More about food and drink in speech
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Friday, December 24, 2010

Cliché: happy holidays

Whatever faith or tradition is dear to you, may you experience the joy of this special season. Merry Christmas. Happy Kwanzaa. Happy Hanukkah. Happy Festivus. Although "happy holidays" has become a cliché in many ways, it is always meant to express wishes for a time of joy in a spirit of good will. 

May peace, good will, and joy be yours now and into the coming new year.

Alan Eggleston (Wordsworth) and family
"How to Slay a Cliché"

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cliché: horsing around

Meaning: improper, unruly behavior (example)

Rewrite 1: making like caged monkeys
Rewrite 2: running with the fools
Rewrite 3: bouncing around like cage fighters on sugar
Rewrite 4: careening around like a European road rally driver
Rewrite 5: having a Black Friday freak-out

Comment: I always associated this idiom with playful unruliness, but I can see it getting out-of-hand and becoming more destructive, so I've attempted to treat the various degrees of unruliness here. Feel free to take it to whatever extreme you need to fit your need. 

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A little horse sense with idioms
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cliché: hook, line, and sinker

Meaning: completely (example)

Rewrite 1: bait, line, and switch
Rewrite 2: site, link, and virus
Rewrite 3: hook, line, and spam
Rewrite 4: text, headline, and disclaimer
Rewrite 5: spine, cover, and pages
Rewrite 6: cereal, box, and special offer

Comment: Although in usage this usually takes on the connotation of "being had," it can also have the more denotative meaning of "getting it all." I tried to cover both here.

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The art of the sell
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cliché: hit the nail on the head

Meaning: to be exact (example)

Rewrite 1: hit the thumb on the nail
Rewrite 2: slotted the screw square
Rewrite 3: fed the thread through the needle, first try
Rewrite 4: pinned the tail on the donkey square on the ass
Rewrite 5: walked a line so fine even a tailor couldn't stitch cleaner

Comment: This one was a challenge, thinking of other ways to express manual exactitude. What did I miss?

If you're ever on Twitter, stop by and say hello: @a_copywriter
Making it easier to talk carpentry metaphors
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Monday, December 13, 2010

Cliché: hit the hay, to

Meaning: go to bed (example)

Rewrite 1: hit the bale
Rewrite 2: hit the mattress
Rewrite 3: cuddle with the pillows
Rewrite 4: ruffle the linens
Rewrite 5: snuggle in z's
Rewrite 6: join the bed buds

Comment: I went for more colloquial wording here.

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Write more picturesquely
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Friday, December 10, 2010

Cliché: hit below the belt, to

Meaning: hurtful, unfair hit (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: going for the groin
Rewrite 2: nuking the no-hit zone
Rewrite 3: knock-out punch between the side pockets
Rewrite 4: aiming for the target of last resort
Rewrite 5: landing one that will make everyone wince 

Comment: This interpretation favors the end-product or area versus the intention. How would you rewrite it differently to suggest someone is intentionally dealing unfairly?

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How to play fair in everyday living
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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Cliché: the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing

Meaning: lack of coordination (example)

Rewrite 1: the left hand and right hand refuse to shake
Rewrite 2: the left hand and right hand aren't talking
Rewrite 3: the left hand is signing Latin, the right hand is signing Greek
Rewrite 4: the left hand is lost and the right hand won't ask for directions
Rewrite 5: the left side of the brain doesn't know what the right side of the brain is thinking
Rewrite 6: the cows don't know what the horses are doing

Comment: The last one kind of comes out of left field, but I wanted something different that still illustrated the point.

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Bringing the hands together
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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Cliché: his bark is worse than his bite

Meaning: not as big a threat as they sound (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: its growl is worse than its pounce
Rewrite 2: his scream is worse than his karate chop
Rewrite 3: her silence is worse than her slap
Rewrite 4: her threat is worse than her payback
Rewrite 5: the "crack" is worse than the wound

Comment: This covers a wide assortment of situations, evolving from a dog, to a cat, to a Ninja, to a scorned woman, to an angered competitor, to a gun.

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(book reference removed)