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Avoid clichés like the plague! We can all use clichés without thinking as they're conversational and well-used expressions to communicate what we want to say. So what are common clichés in writing and how do we avoid them?
Clichés — also idoms, slang, and metaphors — are overused sayings and phrases that can make your writing appear flat, weak, dull and unclear.
Here is a list of 200 common clichés in writing and how to avoid them so you can ensure your book, novel, short story, article, CV, blog post or other writing is vibrant and effective, and not a turn-off or unengaging for your readers.
If clichés convey an appropriate meaning, fit into your writing, and are easily understood by a multicultural audience, then by all means ‘fill your boots’. Clichés aren’t always a no-no, but overdoing them probably is.
Even though you may use clichés in everyday conversations, they shouldn’t be overused – especially in creative and formal writing – if you want to impress, engage or be taken seriously by your readers.
Some of the clichés listed below are also classed as, or are similar to, idioms, metaphors and similes. But don't let clichéd expressions lessen the impact of your writing, or even irritate readers, whether that be to entertain, educate or inform.
The majority of clichés can be substituted with one or two words, or a more straightforward succinct phrase, so it makes sense to remove those tired clichés so your writing has an positive impact.
This article gives cliché examples and some of the worst writing clichés. These clichés to avoid in writing, whether that be in creative writing, in personal statements, in a CV, in articles or blog posts, or general writing, can be rephrased so your writing comes across as well-thought out and considered, instead of sloppy and rushed.
So check out these 200 common clichés in writing (and how to avoid them).
List of clichés in writing:
How to Avoid Clichés in Writing
Before using the cliché or overused phrase, have a think about what you’re trying to convey in your writing and what the saying means, and then ascertain the word/s with the same meaning to rephrase your sentence.
If you don’t want to delete the meaning of the cliché completely, you can rephrase your sentence by using plain English alternatives to enhance your writing, make it more concise, and improve reader engagement, which all help to improve the overall quality of your writing.
Want to know how to remove overused phrases in writing?
See the following list of examples showing how to avoid clichés in your writing by using the alternatives (synonyms) instead.
50 Clichés with Alternatives
If you have more overused sayings but can’t think of another word/group of words to use instead, you can find alternatives for a cliché in an online thesaurus, or enter your phrase into wiktionary.org to find the substitutes for well-known sayings, phrases and clichés as well as their meaning.
‘At the end of the day’ don’t let lazy and tired language affect your writing.
To write in an engaging, interesting, and unique way doesn’t involve using generic words and phrases which have lost their originality through overuse.
Replace clichés with stronger and more stimulating language to keep your reader’s attention so they don’t tune out and read something else instead!