According to the masters and purists of the language, clichés are expressions that have lost their original impact because they have been overused. Some authorities have simply listed over fifty or a thousand of such phrases, having blunt edges that no longer excite or catch the fancy of the discerning writer, journalist and the reporter. To some of us the list of hackneyed words or statements can never be exhausted. It changes with the time. However, we have the die hard or those who are opposed to change. They fear it, to put it plainly. To such persons change is the enemy of progress whereas the reverse is the case. Society, for example, cannot remain the same.
It is dynamic and ever evolving to accept new ideas and breathe in fresh air to the overall well-being of humanity. The progressives, if you like call them the change agents or the conservatives who are averse to change and always suspicious of the other person or group. The list of exhausted words or expressions are too long to be mentioned here, but I will mention a few of them that are repeatedly used or recycled by the majority of the pen pushers that have ultimately lost their original impact and should therefore not to be considered as good enough to be used in the spoken or written form.
I encourage you to search and look out for words and expressions that could best tell your story and ignore the familiar ones that easily come to mind, begging to be engaged at the thought of putting pen on paper or at the point of verbalizing it. Here are some of the outdated phrases one should be mindful of, pay little attention to them when they come knocking at your door and ‘turn a blind eye.’ There goes one of the culprits, ‘turn a blind eye.’ When, as writers we describe someone or a business man and successful entrepreneur as ‘captain of industry,’ we are equally guilty of patronizing a spent phrase that belongs to the old school. ‘Born and bred,’ ‘busy as a bee,’ ‘avoid like a plague,’ ‘blood is thicker than water,’ ‘with flying colours,’ are some of the phrases and hackneyed expressions that are no longer in vogue.
They are now taken as spent forces that should be avoided; did I hear you say ‘like a plague’? Far from it! Most of the idioms or maxims we rely upon to vividly and clearly express our thought process, regrettably, are the victims of clichés overused words or phrase that have lost the battle, giving way to new ideas or inventions. One can go on and count the number of phrases that are equally worn out and tired from overuse but we still find them adorn our newspaper pages, especially, and being engaged lavishly in the spoken word as well.
For example, expressions such as ‘a bolt from the blues,’ ‘abreast of the time,’ ‘it stands to reason,’ ‘make ends meet,’ ‘kill two birds with one stone,’ ‘golden opportunity,’ ‘add insult to injury,’ ‘by leaps and bounds,’ are commonly used regardless of the fact that they are clichés. Before I draw the curtain on this week’s lesson, avoid these phrases if you must not incur the wrath of the English pragmatics or being accused of overkill ‘to cut a long story short,’ ‘far and wide,’ ‘in the neighbourhood of,’ ‘in this day and age,’ ‘by hook or crook,’ ‘if the worst comes to the worst.’ These are statements that are outdated and boring. Avoid them as you avoid the wild-bush fire or the burning charcoal.