Commonly Overused Words and Phrases

A filler is a word or sound inserted into speech that does not necessarily perform a grammatical function and that can be eliminated without changing the meaning of the text. Speakers use fillers to fill a pause, perhaps while they take time to think or simply out of habit. Common fillers in English are you know, like, well, uh, I mean, sort of, and basically. Some other fillers can be attached syntactically and are problematic cases because this feature would make them candidates for treatment as clichés, since they already fill the other criteria of frequency and ineffectiveness. Good examples of this border area of fillers are of course—which I do not treat in this book, though it is frequently used to no purpose—and once again—which I do treat, partly because it so easily bounds across the irritation line. But my guiding principle in the case of borderline fillers has been whether the expression represents a genuine intention on the part of the speaker. This feature, like some others about clichés, is one that cannot be determined with scientific certainty but that examination of instances of usage has allowed me to make informed judgments about.

Overused, redundant, trite and stupid phrase of all time!

Tired of cliches, trite expressions and hackneyed phrases

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In choosing which clichés to examine in detail in this book I have considered frequency as a core determining factor, since it is after all overuse that often leads to an expression being deemed a cliché. Expressions that I examined and found to have a frequency of less than .1 per million words are not included. On this basis, I excluded some familiar expressions such as rare window, get off the couch, lay down a marker, and at daggers drawn that, if used more frequently, might well attract the label cliché.

term:cliche = worn out expression; trite phrase Study …

Published dictionaries of clichés contain many expressions that are clearly idioms but that I do not consider to be clichés in most of their usages. Numerous of these common expressions are not, to my mind, clichés, because they do not meet the criterion of ineffectiveness, despite their great frequency of use. This is particularly the case with idiomatic expressions that have a very specific meaning, the more literal equivalents of which are lengthy and unwieldy. Expressions in this category include, among many others, as the crow flies, get out of Dodge, out of pocket, test the waters, shed light on (already mentioned above), a bone to pick, and catch red-handed. While obviously noncompositional, these expressions lack one of the core qualities of cliché: ineffectiveness. All of these expressions have considerable frequency in English because they convey a specific idea efficiently and effectively. I do not find evidence that they are overused or misused, and therefore it does not seem sensible to classify them as clichés. The economy of shed light on is discussed above. Catch red-handed is similarly economical and vivid and is used in all contexts except extremely formal ones because it succinctly conveys an idea that is more cumbersome when expressed literally. Additionally, and like a bone to pick, it calls a vivid image to the mind that is based on sense data, and any expression is made more vivid and effective by having an element that is derived from input through one of the senses.

Quizlet provides term:cliche = worn out expression; trite phrase activities, ..

Aug 27, 2013 · Clichés are the worst

A proverb is a full sentence that expresses a general truth or that imparts a piece of advice, such as A stitch in time saves nine or Too many cooks spoil the broth. Proverbs may share with clichés the quality of being frequent and familiar; many of them are also not compositional. However, since they are generally taken to be true and effective in expression, they are essentially in conflict with one of the core ideas of cliché—namely, that of being trite or ineffective. Additionally, proverbs, being full sentences, do not fulfill a straightforward grammatical function, which is a feature of most of the clichés I treat in this book.

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A quality of clichés that is typically overlooked when people are disparaging them is that many of them are really very clever and original. Or rather, they were very clever and original the first time they appeared. So much so, in fact, that they immediately attracted hundreds and thousands of imitators: speakers and writers who were perhaps so eager to use the newly coined form of words that they applied it willy-nilly, or simply created a context in which they could use it so as to appear as original as the coiner had been. So, in this sense, clichés are very often a victim of their own early success. Just as a joke loses its ability to shock or amuse on subsequent hearings after the first, so it is with the ability of a clever phrase to seem particularly eloquent and apt.

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Dictionaries, of course, have a say in the matter. The word cliché comes to English from French. Its original, literal denotation thoroughly informs its meaning today: a cliché was a convenience of printing, specifically a stereotype block bearing text that was used to produce multiple printed copies. From this meaning arose the idea of an invariable and reusable expression. Dictionary definitions of cliché all share some common features. Here are a few examples: