CLICHÉS
AVOID THEM LIKE THE PLAGUE
 
from Laura Hayden's "Left-Brain- Right Brain/Creativity Program"

suspense@suspense.net 

http://suspense.net

They make for great book titles,
but lousy writing...

 
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    ---A---
     
  • ace in the hole
  • ace up your sleeve
  • acid test
  • airing dirty laundry
  • all in a day's work
  • all talk, no action
    • all booster, no payload
    • all hat, no cattle
    • all foam, no beer
    • all hammer, no nail
    • all icing, no cake
    • all lime and salt, no tequila.
    • all missile, no warhead
    • all shot, no powder
    • all sizzle, no steak
    • all wax and no wick
  • all that and a bag of chips
  • all thumbs
  • all wet
  • all's fair in love and war
  • almighty dollar
  • always a bridesmaid
  • ambulance chaser
  • another day, another dollar
  • ants in your pants
  • apple-pie order
  • arm and a leg
  • armchair quarterback
  • army brat
  • art imitates life
  • artsy-craftsy
  • artsy-fartsy
  • as luck would have it
  • as old as time
  • at loggerheads

---B---

  • babe in the woods
  • back against the wall
  • back in the saddle
  • back to square one
  • back to the drawing board
  • bad to the bone
  • badge of honor
  • Badonkadonk
  • ballpark figure
  • balls to the wall
  • baptism of fire
  • bare bones
  • bark is worse than the bite
  • bark up the wrong tree
  • bat out of hell
  • bats in the belfry
  • battle royal
  • beat around the bush
  • beat the bushes
  • beats me
  • behind the eight ball
  • bent out of shape
  • best foot forward
  • bet your bottom dollar
  • better half
  • better late than never
  • better mousetrap
  • better safe than sorry
  • better than ever
  • better the Devil you know
  • between a rock and a hard place
  • beyond the pale
  • bib and tucker
  • big as life
  • big fish in a small pond
  • big man on campus
  • bigger they are (the)

---B (cont'd)---

  • bird in the hand
  • birds and the bees
  • birds of the feather
  • bite the dust
  • bite your tongue
  • bitter disappointment
  • black as coal
  • blast from the past
  • bleeding heart
  • blind as a bat
  • blood is thicker than water
  • blood money
  • blood on your hands
  • blood sweat and tears
  • blow this pop stand / joint
  • blushing bride
  • boil it down to
  • bone of contention
  • booze and broads
  • bored to tears
  • born and raised
  • born with a silver spoon in your mouth
  • born yesterday
  • bottom line
  • brain drain
  • brain dump
  • brass tacks
  • bring home the bacon
  • broken record
  • brother's keeper (thy)
  • bull by the horns
  • bull in a china shop
  • bump in the night
  • busy as a bee
  • but seriously
  • by and large
  •  
    http://suspense.net

    ---C---

    • calm before the storm
    • candle at both ends
    • can't cut the mustard
    • case of mistaken identity
    • cat out of the bag
    • cat got your tongue
    • caught red-handed
    • chapter and verse
    • checkered career
    • chickens come home to
      roost
    • chomping at the bit
    • cleanliness is next to
      godliness
    • clear as a bell
    • clear as mud
    • cold shoulder


       

     

    ---C- (cont'd)--

    • communist conspiracy
    • conniption fit
    • could care less
    • couldn't care less
    • couldn't get to first base
    • count your blessings
    • countless hours
    • creature comfort
    • crime in the street
    • curiosity killed the cat
    • curry favor
    • cut a fine figure
    • cut and dried
    • cut to the chase
    • cut to the quick
    • cute as a button

     

     

    http://suspense.net

    ---D---
    • darkest before the dawn
    • dead as a doornail
    • death and destruction
    • death and taxes
    • death's doorstep
    • devil is in the details
    • dim view
    • dog days
    • dog in the manger
    • don't count your chickens before they're hatched
    • don't do the crime if you can't do the time
    • doubting Thomas
    • down and dirty
    • down in the dumps
    • down pat
    • down the drain/toilet
    • down the hatch
    • down to earth
    • drive you up a wall
    • dutch uncle
    • dyed in the wool

     

    ---E---
    • E-ticket
    • ear to the ground
    • early bird catches the worm
    • easier said than done
    • easy as 1-2-3
    • easy as pie
    • eat crow
    • eat humble pie
    • enough already
    • even money
    • every dog has its day
    • every fiber of my being
    • everything but the kitchen sink
    • evil twin
    • existential angst
    • experts agree 
    • eye for an eye
     
    ---F---
    • facts of life
    • fair-haired one
    • fair weather friend
    • fall off of a turnip truck
    • fat slob
    • favor us with a song
    • fear and loathing
    • feather your nest
    • fellow traveler
    • few and far between
    • field this one
    • fifteen minutes of fame
    • fish nor fowl
    • fly by night
    • fly the coop
    • for the birds
    • fox in the henhouse
    • freudian slip
    • fun and games
    • fun in the sun

     

    --G---
    • garbage in, garbage out
    • get the sack
    • get your groove back
    • gets my goat
    • gift horse in the mouth
    • gilding the lily
    • give a damn
    • give me a break
    • gives me the creeps
    • go him one better
    • goes without saying
    • good deed for the day
    • good time was had by all
    • greek to me
    • green thumb
    • green-eyed monster
    • grist for the mill
    • guiding light

     

    ---H---
    • hair of the dog
    • hard to believe
    • have a nice day
    • head honcho
    • heart's content
    • hell-bent for leather
    • hidden agenda
    • high and the mighty (the)
    • high on the hog
    • hold a candle to
    • hold your horses
    • hold your tongue
    • hook or by crook
    • horse of a different color
    • hot knife through butter
    • how goes the battle?

     

    --I---
    • I beg to differ
    • if the shoe fits
    • I'm okay, you're okay
    • in a nutshell
    • in a pinch
    • in a wink
    • in harm's way
    • in the tank
    • in your dreams
    • in your face
    • inexorably drawn
    • info dump
    • influence peddling
    • intents and purposes
    • it was a dark and stormy night
    • it won't fly

     

    --J---
    • Jack of all trades
    • jockey for position
    • Johnny-come-lately
    • joined at the hip
    • jump down your throat
    • jump in with both feet
    • jump on the bandwagon
    • jump the gun
    • jump her/his bones
    • junk in the trunk
    • jury is still out
    • justice is blind

     

    http://suspense.net

    ---K---

    • keep an eye on you
    • keep it down
    • keep it simple, stupid
    • keep up with the Joneses
    • keep your cards close to vest 
    • keep your chin up
    • keep your fingers crossed
    • keep your powder dry
    • kick ass
    • kickbutt
    • kick the bucket
    • kick up your heels
    • kick you to the curb
    • kick your feet up
    • kid in a candy store
    • kill two birds with one stone

     

    ---K  (cont'd)---

    • King's English
    • king's ransom
    • kiss and tell
    • kiss ass
    • kiss of death
    • kit and kaboodle
    • knee-high to a grasshopper
    • knock it out of the park
    • knock on wood
    • knock your socks off
    • knocked up
    • know him from Adam
    • know the ropes
    • know the score
    • knuckle down
    • knuckle sandwich
    • knuckle under

     

    ---L---
    • labor of love
    • lap of luxury
    • last but not least
    • last-ditch effort
    • last hurrah
    • law of the jungle
    • law of the land
    • lay down the law
    • leaps and bounds
    • let sleeping dogs lie
    • let the cat out of the bag
    • let's split
    • liberal media
    • lie like a rug
    • life and limb
    • life imitates art

     

    http://suspense.net

     

    ---L (cont'd)----
    • life's a bitch
    • lighten up
    • lights out
    • like a sore thumb
    • like butter
    • like the plague
    • like there's no tomorrow
    • lion's share
    • litmus test
    • little black book
    • live and learn
    • long and short of it
    • long lost love
    • look before you leap
    • lounge lizard
    • loved and lost
    • low man on the totem pole
    • luck of the draw
    • luck of the Irish

     

    ---M---
    • make my day
    • male chauvinist
    • man's best friend
    • many moons
    • many-splendored thing
    • mark my words
    • meaningful relationship
    • mellow out
    • moment of glory
    • moment's respite
    • Monday morning quarterback
    • monkey suit
    • monkey see, monkey do
    • motherhood and apple pie
    • movers and shakers
    • moving experience
    • my two cents

     

     
    ---N---
    • neat as a pin
    • needless to say
    • nip it in the bud
    • no guts, no glory
    • no love lost
    • no pain, no gain
    • no stone unturned
    • no time like the present
    • nose to the grindstone
    • not in my back yard
    • not on your tintype
    • number one fan
    • numerous to mention
     
     
     

    http://suspense.net

     

     

    ---O---
    • off the wagon
    • old college try
    • old meets new
    • older and wiser
    • older than dirt
    • older than Methuselah
    • on the bandwagon
    • on the nose
    • on the wagon
    • on thin ice
    • one born every minute
    • one foot in the grave
    • one in a million
    • only game in town
    • only to be met
    • out of pocket
    • out of the frying pan
    • out on a limb

     

    ---P-Q---
    • p's and q's
    • pain and suffering
    • panic button
    • party pooper
    • patter of little feet
    • pass the sniff test
    • pay through the nose
    • peas in a pod
    • perfect storm
    • pig in a poke
    • pillar of society
    • pinko
    • plenty of fish in the sea
    • poison pen
    • poor as a churchmouse
    • poor excuse for
    • pot calling the kettle black
    • proud possessor
    • put my/your foot down
    • quick as a bunny
    • quick and the dead

     

    ---R---
    • radical chic
    • rags to riches
    • raining buckets
    • raining cats and dogs
    • rank and file
    • read my lips
    • red herring
    • redheaded stepchild
    • reign supreme
    • remember the alamo
    • road to hell is paved with good intentions
    • rob Peter to pay Paul
    • rock and a hard place
    • rocket science/scientist
    • rope a dope
    • run it up the flagpole
    • running dog lackey

     

    http://suspense.net

     
    ---S---
    • safe than sorry
    • salt of the earth
    • save face
    • scared stiff
    • scared to death
    • school's out
    • screaming meemies
    • senses reel
    • set the record straight
    • shake a stick should of
    • shoulder to the wheel
    • shouldered his way
    • shut your trap
    • sigh of relief
    • significant other
    • silence is golden

    ---S  (cont'd)---

    • slept like a log
    • small world
    • snake in the grass
    • snow job
    • snug as a bug
    • some of my best friends
    • something the cat dragged in
    • spade a spade
    • spare the rod
    • spitting image
    • spring to life

     

    ---S  (cont'd)---

    • squeaky wheel gets the grease/oil
    • start from scratch
    • stick in the mud
    • stick in your craw
    • still waters run deep
    • stop and smell the roses
    • store bought
    • stranger than fiction
    • straw that broke the camel's back
    • stubborn as a mule
    • stuff that dreams are made of
    • stuffed shirt

    http://suspense.net

     

    ---T---
    • take one for the team
    • take the bull by the horns
    • take the plunge
    • takes one to know one
    • talk turkey
    • ten foot pole
    • the earth moved
    • the final analysis
    • the real McCoy
    • the same old story
    • these things happen
    • thick as thieves
    • think outside of the box
    • third time's the charm

     

    ---T  (cont'd)---

    • this day and age
    • this point in time
    • three strikes and you're out
    • through the grapevine
    • throw in the towel
    • tiger by the tail
    • till the fat lady sings
    • time and time again
    • time is of the essense
    • tip of the iceberg
    • 'tis the season
    • to err is human
    • to the best of my knowledge

    ---T  (cont'd)---

    • tongue-in-cheek
    • too hot to handle
    • touch of blarney
    • tough as nails
    • tough luck
    • tough row to hoe
    • traditional family values
    • trials and tribulations
    • tried and true
    • trip down memory lane
    • true blue
    • turn your smile/frown upside-down
    • twist of fate
    • twists and turns
    • two to tango
     
    --U-V---
    • under the gun
    • under the same roof
    • understated elegance
    • unexpected twist
    • until the cows come home
    • up his sleeve
    • up the creek
    • up the wrong tree
    • very real concern
    • view with alarm
     

    http://suspense.net

    ---W---

    • wakeup call
    • was my face red
    • watch your tongue
    • web of intrigue
    • week of sundays
    • what a bummer
    • what comes around, goes around
    • what the cat dragged in
    • what the dickens
    • what the heck/hell
    • what you see is what you get
    • what's not to like
    • wheeler-dealer
    • when in doubt, punt
    • when push comes to shove
    • when rubber meets the road
    • when the cat's away
    • when the going gets tough, the tough get going

    ---W  (cont'd)---

    • who has everything
    • whole ball of wax
    • whole hog
    • whole nine yards
    • whole other story
    • wild goose chase
    • wild oats
    • will wonders never cease
    • wimp
    • win friends and influence
      people
    • win one for the Gipper
    • wnning is everything
    • wisdom of the ages
    • without benefit of clergy
    • wolf at the door
    • words fail
    • work like a dog
    • worst nightmare
    • wrong side of the bed
    ---XYZ---
    • years young
    • yellow journalism
    • you are what you eat
    • you can run, but you can't hide
    • you know what they say
    • young and foolish
    • young and restless
    • yuppie

     

    ---Numerical---

    • 20/20 hindsight

     

    http://suspense.net

     

     

    Got a cliche to add? 
     Email us.


    Latest contributor
    thanks to:

    Mikey C., Tim R.,
    Wanda S., Sela S., Liz K..

     

    -EXTRA EXTRA!-

    Euphemisms for "Stupid"

    • His elevator doesn't go to the top floor
    • All foam, no beer.
    • His bread ain't done
    • His yeast went bad.
    • He couldn't pour water out of a boot with instructions printed on the heel.
    • The cheese slid off his cracker.
    • He's:
      • One taco short of a combination plate
      • One brick shy of a load
      • One pickle short of a barrel
      • One sandwich short of a picnic
      • One step short of a flight (of stairs)
      • One fry short of a Happy Meal
     
    • The light is on, but nobody is home.
    • There's nothing in the attic but cobwebs.
    • He's not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
    • He's not the brightest crayon in the box.
    • The wheel is turning, but the hamster is dead.
    • Body by Fisher, brains by Mattel.
    • The gates are down, the lights are flashing, but there is no train.
    • He's dumber than a box of rocks.
    • He's dumber than a bag of hammers.
    • He couldn't think his way out of a paper bag.
    • He's a walking advertisement/poster boy for birth control/planned parenthood.
     
    • If you gave him a penny for his thoughts, you'd get change.
    • Somewhere a villiage is missing its idiot
    • He donated his brain to science. Science sent it back.
    • He fell out of the Stupid Tree and hit every branch on his way down.
    • The starting gate is open, but he's still asking directions.
    • A few cans short of a six-pack.
    • His pilot light isn't lit.
    • He's as useful as tits on a wart/boar hog.
    • If brains were dynamite, he couldn't blow his nose.
    • It takes him an hour to cook Minute Rice.

    Also see these cliches.


    Interesting Non-American English
    euphemisms for stupid
     

    Australia:

    • A kangaroo loose in the top paddock