Clichés are the worst. Aside from being indicative of lazy speaking and lazy writing, they are rarely used correctly, and even when they are, they rarely make sense. Most popularized metaphors are outdated - who throws out bath water or sells tons of hotcakes anymore? Relying on such trite and nonsensical phrases shows an inability to discuss original thoughts or opinions, a.k.a. MAKES YOU UNBEARABLY BORING.
We could go on until we were blue in the face, but there's a time and a place for everything. Without further ado, here are the worst of the worst:
1. "Don't cry over spilt milk."
This cliché may not be outdated or irrelevant, but it does tend to undermine actual problems. Do you know a single person who would literally shed tears after knocking over a glass of two percent? We hope not. It's irritating to hear this expression when seeking solace while confronting a real issue. Like, you know, spilt ice cream. Now that is cause for concern.
2. "Selling like hotcakes"
Let us clarify: hotcakes are not pancakes. Popular in the 19th century, they were made from cornmeal and cooked in pork lard. Armed with this knowledge, we'd assume that "selling like hotcakes" meant "selling zero." However, this assumption would be incorrect.
3. "The rest is history."
This is the cliché equivalent of calling something "interesting." It's a vapid means of wrapping up a story, and another way of saying "I have no further insight into this matter."
4. "Avoid like the plague"
Self-explanatory, but maybe a little outdated.
5. "Let her hair down"
How did this become a metaphor for relaxation? Oh, right, upending one's hair from dozens and dozens of pins was a daily thing for women in the 17th century. It's 2013. Wearing your hair down requires as much, if not more effort than rocking a sock bun.
6. "Every cloud has a silver lining."
Um, does it?
The origin of this phrase is Milton's "Comus," in which the author is referencing moonlight emitted behind clouds in the sky at nighttime (which, obviously, is not every cloud). So, aside from being trite, this cliché is also incorrect.
7. "Beg the question"
The issue with this cliché is that it is rarely used correctly. "Begging the question" does not mean "raises the question." It is one of Aristotle's fallacies - a type of circular reasoning that involves answering a question with a similarly tenuous response, as in "Why?" "Because I said so." NOW YOU KNOW.
8. "When it rains, it pours."
Except for most of the time, when it lightly drizzles.
9. "Cat got your tongue?"
The benefit of a cliché, if there is any, is its ability to communicate an idea with a metaphor that most people can relate to, or could relate to at the time of its creation. Most people can't relate to a cat clawing out his or her tongue. This cliché has no long or sensical history - it's simply a bizarre way of asking someone to speak up.
10. "Go climb a tree."
This is possibly the meekest insult possible. If you are upset with someone, it may be more effective to instruct them to do a less pleasurable activity than tree-climbing.
11. "Dressed to kill"
What does one wear when one dresses to kill? Latex gloves? Chainmail?
12. "Spitting image"
This expression is a messy one - It likely derives from the phrase "spit and image," as in, you are genetically similar to your kin, and you also look like them. Also, it just sounds a little gross.
13. "Don't judge a book by its cover."
Impossible. A book's cover contains a lot of important information, such as the title of the book, and the name of the author.
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