Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cliché: it isn't rocket science

Meaning: it isn't so advanced (example)

Rewrite 1: it isn't particle physics
Rewrite 2: it isn't quantum computing
Rewrite 3: it isn't galactic entanglement
Rewrite 4: it isn't advanced calculus
Rewrite 5: it isn't superstructure engineering

Comment: This is about using the complex to imply the simple. It doesn't have to be science - what about advanced crochet technique or organizational chart engineering?

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Spruce up your idioms
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cliché: isn't all it's cracked up to be

Meaning: it's disappointing (example)

Rewrite 1: isn't the egg the goose gaggled over
Rewrite 2: isn't the omellette the chef's commotion stirred up
Rewrite 3: isn't the pile-up the four-mile backup promised
Rewrite 4: isn't the gift all the wrapping presents
Rewrite 5: isn't the raise the boss's praises implied

Comment: "Cracked up" means "praise" in its original though seldom-used form, but it's difficult to find another way to repeat that, so I went for other things that "crack up" that might create a similar intention. Thus, the egg references and the pile up. Can you think of another way to bring back the original sense of praise in this idiom?

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Playing devil's advocate this once
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cliché: it's no use crying over spilled milk

Meaning: don't sweat the little things you can't change (example)

Rewrite 1: no use crying over burnt toast
Rewrite 2: no use moaning over crumbled crackers
Rewrite 3: no use stressing over 404 error page returns
Rewrite 4: no use pouting over pennies down sewer drains
Rewrite 5: no use mourning chipped fingernails

Comment: I tried to retain the flavor of life's little disappointments, which is what the original intones.

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Picking up more idioms
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Friday, February 18, 2011

Cliché: Is it soup yet?

Meaning: is it ready? (example)

Rewrite 1: soup poured?
Rewrite 2: done cookin'?
Rewrite 3: table set yet?
Rewrite 4: still in the oven?
Rewrite 5: pie still cooling?

Comment: I've maintained the food or eating metaphor, but there should be plenty of others you could use. For instance, building: Walls up? Decorating: Paint dry? Programming: Code up?

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Food on your keyboard
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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cliché: skating on thin ice

Meaning: taking a big risk (example)

Rewrite: swimming in deep waters
Rewrite: walking on ice
Rewrite: upstaging a diva 
Rewrite: running with scissors
Rewrite: skipping a stiff rope

Comment: This cliché was the suggestion of Jacques. Thanks, Jacques! I tried to come up with different risky scenarios without sounding too rediculous.

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More on metaphors
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Friday, February 11, 2011

Cliché: in your dreams

Meaning: a challenge of disbelief (example)

Rewrite: in your mind's eye
Rewrite: in the world of make-believe
Rewrite: as the fantasy flies
Rewrite: with your imaginary friends
Rewrite: when you're on meds

Comment: This is usually said as a taunt, so think more in terms of sarcasm.

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More on dreams
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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cliché: about as pleasant as a trip to the dentist

Meaning: anxiety inducers

Rewrite 1: about as pleasant as a trip to the principal's office
Rewrite 2: about as fun as a trip to the emergency room
Rewrite 3: all the joy of an appointment with the IRS
Rewrite 4: with the anticipation of a call from a telemarketer
Rewrite 5: with the calm of being surrounded by pickpockets

Comment: My thanks to author @jaypapasan for suggesting this challenging idiom, which may or may not rise to the definition of cliche. Jay says it attracts 77k hits on Google, a respectable showing. However, I couldn't find it on any searches that identified as a classic written cliche. Rather, it showed up as more of a cultural cliche, an idea that keeps popping up in references, which is that nothing is a fearful as a trip to the dentist. So perhaps our job here isn't so much to rewrite an idiom as to suggest there may be equal or worse things to fear as a visit with Dr. Tooth. 

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To make us all feel better about that trip to the dentist
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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Cliché: in the nick of time

Meaning: just in time (example)

Rewrite 1: in the tick of a tock
Rewrite 2: before the zeroes clicked over
Rewrite 3: before the bell buzzed
Rewrite 4: before a spark becomes a flame
Rewrite 5: before he could hit "send" 

Comment: The last couple of examples are more moments than time, yet I think they equally apply.

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More on idioms
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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Cliché: in the hot seat

Meaning: difficult position (example)

Rewrite: in the frying pan
Rewrite: in the flood plain
Rewrite: in a war zone
Rewrite: on the nail head
Rewrite: over an open manhole
Rewrite: holding a live wire

Comment: I tried to not just concentrate on "hot" situations, but also included difficult circumstances.

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Words of conflict
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Monday, February 07, 2011

Cliché: in the clear

Meaning: blameless or innocent (example 1)(example 2)

Rewrite 1: passed clean suspect inspection
Rewrite 2: traveling barrier-free
Rewrite 3: the fog surrounding you has lifted
Rewrite 4: the dark cloud hovering over you just rained out
Rewrite 5: the trash talk has shifted to somebody else

Comment: There is an other use for this idiom related to cashflow, but all the references I found online were to blamelessness.

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Sunday, February 06, 2011

Cliché: in the cards, it's

Meaning: predicatble (example, scroll down), predicted (example)

Rewrite: Swami has fortold it
Rewrite: I found it in the Bible Code
Rewrite: you will find it in the star charts
Rewrite: I knew it! I could have run the table on it!
Rewrite: it was known before they shuffled the cards

Comment: This is more about foreknowledge than predictability.

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Saturday, February 05, 2011

Cliché: in on the ground floor

Meaning: involved from the beginning (example)

Rewrite 1: in at the lobby level
Rewrite 2: entering before the crowd arrives
Rewrite 3: begin where everything is "up"
Rewrite 4: start with the hand-over of the keys
Rewrite 5: Getting to 60 from zero

Comment: The last one was inspired by Top Gear (UK), which I was watching at the time.

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Friday, February 04, 2011

Cliché: in harm's way

Meaning: making yourself available to be harmed (example)

Rewrite 1: in harm's glide path
Rewrite 2: on harm's playground
Rewrite 3: on harm-friendly grounds
Rewrite 4: playing on harm's turf
Rewrite 5: right where harm wants you

Comment: There was plenty of room to work using just harm as the central keyword, but I'd like to see what you might come up with for words other than harm.

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Writing about crime
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