Descriptive Phrases

I have to admit, I love cliches, aphorisms and euphemisms. I am addicted to these kinds of descriptive phrases: Don’t cry over split milk, every dog shall have his day, no use beating a dead horse etc. In every day writing of emails and blogs they are fun and comfortable means of getting our thoughts across. With fiction and non-fiction writing we wish to promote as legitimate work, well, they are more than frowned upon. They’ve been used so much they are dead as a doornail.

In writing, this is one more thing you should be aware of when it becomes time to edit yet another one of your masterpieces. Don’t worry about it so much in the first draft but if you happen to notice you have used one, mark it and come back to it later when you can create your own descriptive and memorable phrase.

There are thousands of cliches out there. Sometimes we are not even aware of them because they have become so much apart of our every day speech. Here is a listing of 50 cliches. Read over them and see how many you have used or thought of using this past week. You may be surprised:

  1. Not on your life
  2. Rough and tumble
  3. Ace in the hole
  4. Hit the spot
  5. Off and running
  6. Runs like a girl
  7. Pop your top
  8. Not a hope in hell
  9. Ace in the hole
  10. Talk ’till your blue in the face
  11. Sick as a dog
  12. Odd man out
  13. The real deal
  14. Through thick and thin
  15. A rolling stone gathers no moss
  16. Sink or swim
  17. Balance of power
  18. Quick on the draw
  19. Dog days of summer
  20. Stir up a fuss
  21. Dollars to doughnuts
  22. When in Rome, do as the Romans do
  23. Get all bent out of shape
  24. See light at the end of the tunnel
  25. Full steam ahead
  26. Wayward ways
  27. There will be another one
  28. Really and truly
  29. A clean slate
  30. Loud and clear
  31. Horse sense
  32. From A to Z
  33. I say jump, you say, “how high?”
  34. Hog the limelight
  35. Bevy of beauties
  36. Stubborn as a mule
  37. Got a frog in your throat?
  38. Beauty is only skin deep
  39. Slow off the mark
  40. Ready for the nut house
  41. A square peg in a round hole
  42. Much ado about nothing
  43. Imagination runs riot
  44. It’s a done deal
  45. Pretty as a picture
  46. It’s like butter
  47. Can’t judge a book by its cover
  48. The bigger they come, the harder they fall.
  49. A whole new ball of wax
  50. Goody two-shoes

Now spend a moment and figure out what your crutch cliches are and make a list of them and post it in your things to look for when editing file.

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Topic Links
* Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English

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