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University Writing Center



 Avoiding Clichés

It is great to try and make your writing creative by using metaphors and figurative language, but clichés do the opposite of this. Instead of evoking a clear picture in a reader’s mind, clichés evoke no feeling other than triteness. They are predictable to your reader and should be avoided in good writing.

Here is a list of clichés to avoid:

add insult to injury
after all is said and done
against the current
the agony of defeat
agree to disagree
all walks of life
at this point in time
avoid like the plague
the ball’s in his court
be that as it may
better half
better late than never
beyond a shadow of doubt
the birds and the bees
bite the dust
bitter end
bottom of my heart
bottom of the barrel
bring down the house
bring home the bacon
broad daylight
brutal murder
burn the midnight oil
by the same token
calm, cool, and collected
chip off the old block
cloud nine
cold as ice
cold, hard facts
come to grips with
cool as a cucumber
crack of dawn
dead as a doornail
do or die
down and out
down for the count
to each his own
every dog has its day
face the music
facts of life
few and far between
fit as a fiddle
fresh as a daisy
gone but not forgotten
green with envy
happy medium
heave a sigh of relief
higher than a kite
hit me like a ton of bricks
hit the nail on the head
hotter than hell
hush fell over the crowd
hustle and bustle
in a nutshell
larger than life
last but not least
last straw
light as a feather
like father, like son















live from hand to mouth
live like a king
lying through her teeth
method to her madness
more than meets the eye
needle in a haystack
nip in the bud
nose to the grindstone
off his rocker
off the beaten track
off the wall
once and for all
one rotten apple spoils the barrel
only time will tell
out of the blue
paint the town red
put your best foot forward
put your foot in your mouth
quick as a flash
quick as lightning
raise (rear) its ugly head
raving lunatic
rude awakening
sell like hotcakes
sharp as a razor
sharp as a tack
short and sweet
short end of the stick
sigh of relief
silver platter
sink or swim
skeleton in the closet
skin of your teeth
slow but sure
smart as a whip
smooth sailing
sneaking suspicion
soft place in my heart
stick out like a sore thumb
straight and narrow
straw that broke the camel’s back
strike while the iron is hot
tangled web
thin as a rail
tip of the iceberg
tough nut to crack
tried and true
truth is stranger than fiction
twinkling of an eye
two-edged (double edged) sword
up in arms
vicious cycle
vital role
walk a fine line
walking on air
walk the straight and narrow
wet blanket
when all is said and done
when the going gets tough, the tough get
work like a dog
wreak havoc