Cliches 

Cliches are phrases that are over-used at the expense of originality and reasoning. They help avoid the need to be inventive with language and they make thinking unnecessary, but they're fun! Here's a brief list (and a little essay I wrote using only cliches, a dream of mine since grad' school).

 

Clichť List

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

A case of the Mondays.

A dim bulb.

A dime a dozen.

A few bricks short of a full load.

A few cards short of a full deck.

A fish out of water.

A friend in need is a friend indeed.

A little birdie told me.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

A penny for your thoughts. (Does that mean youíll earn the penny?)

A penny saved is a penny earned (but what if you find one?)

A picture is worth a thousands words.

A quart short of a gallon.

A screw loose.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Actions speak louder than words.

Aim for the stars.

Aim high.

Ainít that the pot calling the kettle black.

All dressed up and no where to go.

All for one and one for all.

All hell broke loose.

All is for the best (unless itís not.)

All is well that ends well.

All roads lead to Rome.

All that glitters isn't gold.

All thumbs.

All wrapped up in a bow.

An army of one.

Another day, another dollar.

Another work day done. 

Anything is possible (except for whatís impossible).

Apply yourself. 

Back in my dayÖ

Back on the wagon.

Bad news travels fast.

Barefoot  and pregnant

Barking up the wrong tree.

Be all that you can be.

Be careful what you wish for.

Beat the odds.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Beauty is skin deep.

Been there, done that.

Beggars can't be choosers.

Behind every good man is a good woman.

Behind every man is a strong woman.

Believe it or not.

Better late than never.

Better safe than sorry.

Between a rock and a hard place.

Birds of a feather flock together.

Bite the bullet.

Blind as a bat.

Blow(ing) smoke up your butt.

Born with a silver spoon.

Born yesterday.

Break a leg.

Bring it on.

Bring youíre a-game.

Burn the candle at both ends.

Burning the midnight oil.

Bury the [Molly] hatchet.

By the skin of your teeth.

Can't live with them, can't live without them.

Can't teach an old dog new tricks.

Cat got your tongue?

Caught between a rock and a hard place.

Caught red-handed.

Chalk it up to experience

Cheaters never prosper/win.

Climb the highest mountain, cross the widest sea.

Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

Clothes don't make the man.

Cold day in Hell.

Comparing apples to oranges.

Crime doesn't pay.

Cross that bridge when you come to it.

Cry me a river.

Cry(ing) wolf.

Curiosity killed the cat.

Dare to dream.

Different strokes for different folks.

Dollars to Donuts.

Donít be square.

Donít bite off more than you can chew.

Donít burn any bridges.

Donít count your chickens before they hatch.

Donít get your nose out of joint.

Donít leave me hanginí.

Donít put all your eggs in one basket.

Donít talk with your mouth full.

Don't be a stranger.

Don't beat a dead mule/horse.

Don't bite off more than you can chew.

Don't count your chickens before they hatch.

Don't cry over spilled milk.

Don't get mad, get even.

Don't get your undies in a bunch.

Don't go there.

Don't go to bed angry.

Don't have a cow.

Don't let the bedbugs bite

Don't let the door hit you on your way out.

Don't let them get you when you're down.

Don't let your mouth write a check your body can't cash.

Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

Don't make a mountain out of a molehill.

Don't make the same mistake twice.

Don't make waves.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

Don't shoot yourself in the foot.

Don't sit so close to the television, it will ruin your eyes.

Don't sweat the small stuff.

Don't take anything for granted.

Don't throw fuel on the fire.

Don't toss your cookies.

Don't work too hard.

Down and dirty.

Dressed to kill.

Dressed to the nines

Easy come, easy go.

Easy does it.

Eat like a pig

Eat my dust. 

Every cloud has a silver lining.

Every rose has its thorn.

Everybody's doing it.

Everyone and his brother.

Everyone's a critic.

Everything under the sun.

Everything will be alright.

Expect the unexpected,

Face facts.

Fall off the turnip truck.

Fastest way to a destination is a straight line.

Father knows best.

Fell off the wagon.

Find your inner child.

Firing on all cylinders

Fish out of water.

Flat as a pancake.

Follow the crowd.

Follow your dreams. (Stay away from my dreams.)

Follow your heart.

For every door that closes, another one opens.

For every hill there's a valley.

For goodnessí sake.

Forget about it.

Forgive and forget.

From bad to worse with your eyes open.

From the fat to the fire.

Get a grip. 

Get a job.

Get a life.

Get real. (No thanks.)

Get with the program.

Get your head out of the clouds.

Get your mind out of the gutter.

Give Ďem an inch, theyíll take a mile.

Give as good as you get.

Give 'em hell. (But what if hell isnít yours to give?)
                                  
Just say no.

Git er done. 

Give credit where credit is due.

Give it your best shot.

Give or take a few.

Go figure.

Go for broke.

Go for the gusto.

Go with the flow.

God never closes a door without opening a window.

Going away empty-handed.

Gone fishing.

Good riddance.

Good things come to those who wait.

Good times.

Got all your ducks in a row?

Grab for the brass ring.

Grab the bull by the horns.

Grab the gold.

Hang in there.

Haste makes waste.

He never saw it coming.

He/sheís blowing hot air

Heís on fire.

He wouldn't hurt a fly.

Help take a bite out of crime.

High as a kite.

His bark is worse than his bite.

Hit between the eyes

Hold your horses.

Home is where the heart is.

Home, sweet home.

Houston, we have a problem.

Howís life treatiní yaí?

Howís the weather up/down there?

I don't have money to burn.

I had a good run.

I hope this finds you well.

I know whatí youíre going through.

I know you are but what am I?

Iím high as a kite.

Iím high on life.

Iím not made of money.

Iím only human.

Iím rubber, youíre glue.

Iím sorry for your loss.

Iím taking my ball and going home.

If I had a nickel for every timeÖ

If itís not one thing, itís another. (Maybe not. Sometimes itís nothing.)

If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times.

If looks could kill.

If pigs could fly.

If the shoe fits, wear it.

If you can dream it, you can be it.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em (or else try to beat them again).

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

If you play with fire, you're bound to get burned.

If you put your mind to it . . . etc.

If you want to dance you have to pay the band.

If you're not for it, you're against it.

I'll give you something to cry about.

I'm hungry as a bear.

In a pickle.

In like a lion, out like a lamb.

In the heat of the moment.

In this neck of the woods.

Innocent until proven guilty.

It builds character.

It can't get any worse.

It costs an arm and a leg.

It could be worse.

It only takes one person to make a difference.

It rained on his/her/their parade.

It takes all kinds (All kinds of what?)

It takes one to know one

It takes two to tango.

It was meant to happen.

It will all work out in the long run.

Itís a piece of cake.

Itís a snap.

Itís about the journey, not the destination.

Itís all gravy.

It's all downhill from here.

It's an uphill battle.

Itís good for you.

Itís not over till the fat lady sings.

Itís not you, itís me.

Itís raining cats and dogs.

It'll put hair on your chest.

It's a blessing in disguise.

It's a crying shame.

It's a dog-eat-dog world.

It's a losing battle (unless you win.)

It's a rat race.

It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye.

It's always darkest before the dawn.

It's been a long day.

It's been real, it's been fun, but it hasn't been real fun.

It's better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.

It's like comparing apples to oranges.

It's money in the bank.

It's not a life or death matter

It's not over until the fat lady sings.

It's not the end of the worldÖ

It's not where you start but where you finish.

It's on the tip of my tongue.

It's the American way

Jump on/off the bandwagon

Jump the gun

Just be yourself.

Just do it.

Keep on truckin'.

Keep the shiny side up

Keep your chin up.

Keep your mouth shut and your eyes open.

Keep your shirt on.

Kill two birds with one stone.

Knowing is half the battle.

Laughter is the best medicine.

Lay it on the line (or leave it on the field).

Leave no stone unturned.

Leave some water for the fish.

Leave well enough alone.

Let bygones be bygones.

Let 'er rip.

Let your hair down.

Let nature take its course.

Let sleeping dogs lie.

Let's face it.

Let's get this show on the road.

Letís just be friends.

Life goes on.

Life is a bitch, and then you die.

Life is a crapshoot.

Life is a game.

Life is a journey.

Life is like bowl of cherries and this is the pits.

Life is short.

Life is what you make it.

Life sucks.

Lighten up.

Lights are on, but nobody's home

Like a fox.

Like I need a hole in my head.

Like pulling teeth.

Like white on rice.

Like.

Live and learn.

Live and let live.

Live by the seat of your pants.

Live fast.

Live long and prosper.

Live to play, play to live.

Liviní on the edge.

Lock, stock, and barrel.

Long walk off a short pier.

Look before you leap.

Look on the bright side.

Lose the battle, win the war.

Love conquers all.

Love is blind.

Make a difference.

Make adversity your friend. (No, make it yours. I donít want it.)

Make hay while the sun shines.

Make like a tree and leave.

Make the best of a bad situation.

Making waves.

Mark my words.

Mellow out.

Mind your manners.

Misery loves company.

Money burns a hole in his pocket.

Money can't buy love/happiness.

Money doesnít grow on trees.

Money is the root of all evil.

My way or the highway.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Needle in a hay stack.

Never too late.

Nice guys finish last.

No guts, no glory.

No man is an island.

No news is good news.

No need to reinvent the wheel.

No pain, no gain.

No smoke without fire.

No sweat.

Not enough of me to go around.

Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Not the sharpest tool in the shed.

Nothing is certain but death and taxes.

Off the beaten path.

Old-school.

On the same page.

Once in a lifetime

One in a million.

Once upon a timeÖ

One vote makes a difference.

Only in America.

Only the good die young.

Only the strong survive. 

Only you can prevent forest fires.

Opportunity only knocks once.

Opposites attract.

Out of this world.

Out with the old, in with the new.

Pain is temporary, but glory is forever.

Pain is your friend.

Passing the buck.

Patience is a virtue.

People who live in glasses houses shouldn't throw stones.

Piece of cake.

Play it cool.

PMA (Positive Mental attitude)

Practice makes perfect.

Pretty as a picture/postcard.

Pull yourself up by your bootstraps (If you pull on your bootstraps, youíll pull yourself down. Try it.)

Pushing up daisies.

Put a sock in it.

Put it where the sun don't shine.

Put on a pedestal.

Put on the other guyís shoes.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Put the pedal to the metal

Put your money on the table.

Put your money where your mouth is.

Put your pants on one leg at a time.

Rest your weary bones.

Right on the nose (button).

Run it up the flag pole, see who salutes.

Run like hell.

Running on empty.

Same old, same old.

Same old song and dance.

Same shit, different day.

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

See the cup as half-full/half empty.

Selling like hotcakes.

Shake it off.

Sharp as a tack (stick, nails).

Sheer force of will.

Shit happens.

Shit in one hand and wish in the other.

Shoot for the moon.

Shoot from the hip.

Shoot the moon.

Shoot the shit.

Shop until you drop.

Six of one, half dozen of another.

Sky is the limit.

Smarter than the average bear.

Smell the roses.

Smiles are like sunshine.

So far, so good.

So it goesÖ

Someday my ship will come in.

Speak now, or forever hold your peace.

Speak softly and carry a big stick.

Squeeze a dollar out of pennies.

Stay between the lines.

Step up to the plate.

Sticks and stones . . .

Stiff upper lip.

Stop the music.

Straight shooter.

Strike up the band.

Stubborn as a mule.

Suck it up.

Sweet 16.

Sweet revenge.

Take a chance.

Take a chill pill.

Take a hike.

Take a load off.

Take a walk on the wild side.

Take advantage of your opportunities

Take it or leave it.

Take it to the limit.

Take life one day at a time.

Take no prisoners.

Take one for the team.

Take one step at a time.

Take your coat (shoes) off and stay a while.

Talk the talk, walk the walk.

Talk to the hand.

Thank god it's Friday.

Thank you, come again.

Thatís a keeper.

The acorn doesn't fall too far from the tree.

The apple doesn't fall too far from the cart.

The best of both worlds.

The buck stops here.

The devil is in the details.

The devil made me do it.

The early bird gets the worm.

The first cut is the deepest.

The first step is the hardest.

The good one got away.

The grass is always greener on the other side.

The light at the end of the tunnel.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The pot calling the kettle black.

The road of life is all uphill.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

The truth hurts.

The truth will set you free.

The whole nine yards.

Their heart's in the right place.

There is always gold at the end of the rainbow

There is light after every storm.

There is no "I" in team.

Thereís a clam before the storm.

Thereís a light at the end of every tunnel.

Thereís more fish in the sea.

There's no rest for the wicked.

They grow up so fast.

They're in a better place now.

Think Big.

Think outside the box.

Think Positive.

This is the real world.

This like heaven on earth.

This, too, shall pass.

Those are rotten apples.

Those are sour grapes.

Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.

Three steps forward, two steps back.

Time flies when you are having fun.

Time flies.

Time is of the essence.

To die for.

To not decide is to decide.

Tomorrow's another day.

Too many chefs spoil the soup.

Too many irons in the fire.

Tough as nails.

Tow the line.

Treat others as you want to be treated.

Try it you'll like it.

Trying is half the battle.

Turn out the lights, the party's over.

Two heads are better than one.

Two left feet.

Under my/her/his thumb.

Up in smoke.

Uphill both ways.

Variety is the spice of life.

Visualize success.

Visualize world peace. (This should help out tons, donít you think?)

Wait your turn.

Wake up and smell the coffee.

Wake up on the wrong side of the bed.

Walk softly.

Walk the line.

Walking a thin line.

Walking on air.

Walking on thin ice.

Water under the bridge.

Way to go.

Weíll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Weíre all in the same boat. 

We're not out of the woods yet.

What comes around goes around.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

What goes up, must come down.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

What if tomorrow never comes?

Whatís new? (Answer: Same old, same old.)

Whatever floats your boat.

Whatever tickles your fancy.

Whatever turns your crank.

Whatever.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

What's ours is mine.

What's that got to do with the price of eggs?

When hell freezes over.

When in Rome.

When it rains it pours.

When life hands you lemons, make a lemonade.

When pigs fly.

When youíre my age you'll thank me.

Where thereís a will, thereís a way.

Who died and made you king (boss)?

Who do they think they are?

Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free.

Winner takes all.

Winners never quit and quitters never win.

Winning isn't everything

With a friend like you, who needs enemies?

Work hard, play hard.

Workin' hard or hardly workin'?

Working nine to five.

Wrapped around her/his finger

Ya think?

You are what you eat.

You can do anything you put your mind to (unless you fail).

You can lead a horse to water . . .

You canít fix what ainít broken.

You canít have your cake and eat it, too.

You can't win them all.

You get out of it what you put into it.

You get what you deserve

You gotta do what you gotta do.

You had to be there.

You have to make it happen.

You haven't seen anything yet.

You lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

You made your bed, now lie in it

You make a better door than a window.

You reap what you sow.

You sound like a broken record.

Youíll change your mind once you get older.

Youíre driving me up a wall

Youíre gonna get your fingers burned.

Youíve got to give back what youíve learned/gained.

You'll never know unless you try

You'll understand when you're older.

Your guess is as good as mine.

Your shit doesnít stink.

You're a sight for sore eyes.

You're as white as a ghost.

You're as young as you feel.

You're over the line.

You've got to take the bad with the good.

 

Possible Up-and-Coming Cliches

Aight

Are you gelliní?

Fo-Shizzle.

Fo-show.

Hate the playa, not the game.

Iím all in.

Iím all over that like a fat kid on a cupcake.

Iím out, like a fat kid in dodgeball.

LOL

Luke, I am your father.

Mean people suck.

More cowbell.

Okayyy!

Phat

Pimpiní ainít easy.

Player hater.

Respect my authori-tay!

Ridonculous.

Thatís hot.

This is the smallest violin ever playiní a sad song.

Too cool for school.

Umm-kay.

Until the cows come home.

Vote or die

Wassup.

Whatchoo talkiní bout, Willis?

You are the weakest link.

Youíre fired.

You're only as old as you feel.

Zoom zoom.

 

 

Categories

Questionable Advice:                 "Unwanted advice is a form of hostility."
  
                                         -- Ed Chigliak, Northern Exposure

Apply yourself. (Or not.)
Burn the candle at both ends. (This canít be done. Try it some time.)
Eat my dust. (What if youíre running on pavement?)
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em (or else try to beat them again).
Get a grip. (A nice way to make someone nice and defensive, eh?)
Get real. (No thanks.)
Give 'em hell. (But what if hell isnít yours to give?)
Have a good weekend (*see Service Industry Cliches)
Have a nice day/afternoon/evening/night (see *Service Industry Cliches)                                                                                    
Just say no. (Itís just that easy. Kind of a slap at the concept of addiction, donít you think?)
Keep on truckin'.
Make adversity your friend (No, make it yours. I donít want it.)
Pull yourself up by your bootstraps (If you pull on your bootstraps, youíll pull yourself down. Try it some time.)
Put on the other guyís shoes. (I would prefer not to.)
Put your money where your mouth is (That might hurt.)
Smell the roses (What if youíre allergic?)
Take a chill pill.
Take no prisoners.
Tow the line.
Wake up and smell the coffee. (How can you make coffee before you wake up?)
Work hard, play hard.
You get out of it what you put into it. (Whatís the point if you just get the same stuff back?)
Youíve got to give back what youíve learned/gained (unless they donít want it, or you want to keep it).
You've got to take the bad with the good (No you donít. Just say no.)
 

American Success Cliches/ Motivational Language (there's some questionable advice here, too)

"I think that what's most disturbing about success is that it's very hazardous to your health, as well as to your daily routine." -- John Updike, from Time magazine, October 18,1982

Aim for the stars
Aim high (and crash and burn when you donít meet your own expectations).
Anything is possible (except for whatís impossible).
Achieve success (as opposed to ďachieve achievementĒ).
Achieve excellence (unless you prefer mediocrity).
Follow your heart. (Is that an order?)
Follow your dreams. (Stay away from my dreams.)
Get with the program (or choose not to).
Grab the gold (but what if someone already owns it?)
Go for the gusto.
If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen (and variations)
If you put your mind to it . . . etc.
Make a difference. (Yeah, yeah, yeah.)
Make the best of a bad situation. (Yeah, yeah, yeah.)
No guts, no glory
Only the strong survive. (This would imply that all others die.)
PMA (Positive Mental attitude)
Sheer force of will.
Shoot for the moon. (Same as reach for the stars and aim high, but much more creative.)
Take advantage of your opportunities
Think Big.
Think Positive.
Visualize success.
Visualize world peace. (This should help out tons, donít you think?)
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger (or it just makes you a disgruntled postal worker).
 

Questionable Truths:                "Everything has been said."
                                                           
 -- Jean De La Bruyere, 1688

All is for the best.
A
penny saved is a penny earned.
Another day, another dollar.
Everyone has their own opinion.

For goodnessí sake.
Give Ďem an inch, theyíll take a mile
The grass is always greener on the other side.
If itís not one thing, itís another.  
It takes all kinds.
It takes two to tango.
It only takes one person to make a difference.
It's a dog-eat-dog world
Itís raining cats and dogs
It's a rat race.
It's a losing battle.
It's a matter of interpretation.
It was meant to happen.
Laughter is the best medicine.
Life is a game.
Life is a crapshoot.
Life is a birch, and then you die.
Life sucks
Life is what you make it.
Money is the root of all evil.
No pain, no gain
Nothing is certain but death and taxes.
One vote makes a difference.
Shirt happens.
The apple doesn't fall too far from the cart.
The acorn doesn't fall too far from the tree.
They grow up so fast.
This is the real world.
Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. (What about people with amnesia?)
Weíre all in the same boat.
You can do anything you put your mind to.
You canít fix what ainít broken.  
Youíll change your mind once you get older.
Youíre gonna get your fingers burned.
Your way of lookin' at it's just as good as mine.

0Old Standards

 "Language -- human language -- after all, is but little better than the croak and cackle of fowls, and  other utterances of brute nature -- sometimes not so adequate." -- Nathaniel Hawthorne

Another work day done. (And your point is . . . ?)
Different strokes for different folks
Don't be a stranger
Easy come, easy go
He/sheís blowing hot air
Howís life treatiní yaí?
Howís the weather up/down there? (Why is this such a crucial question unless youíre an airline pilot?)
In today's society . . . (Unless youíre specifically referring to yesterdayís society, donít write this!)
It rained on his/her/their parade
It's a crying shame
It's like comparing apples to oranges. (After all, theyíre so different, arenít they?)
Mark my words (but be careful how you mark them).
A Penny for your thoughts. (Does that mean youíll earn the penny?)
Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Same old, same old.
Same shirt, different day. (The most clever, irritating clichť in the American workplace.)
So far, so good.
Thatís too bad.
Those are rotten apples.
Those are sour grapes.
Öunder my/hr/his thumb.
Öwrapped around her/his finger
Whatever turns your crank.
Whatís new? (Answer: Same old, same old.)
Who do they think they are? (When all thoughtful refutations have been used up)
Workin' hard or hardly workin'? (The most clever, irritating clichť in the American workplace.)
Youíre driving me up a wall
 

Cliches that mean nothing and never really did

(These are used to either avoid serious thinking or confrontation; some of them are especially useful for Minnesotans, according to Howard Mohr's Minnesota Language Systems):

It's a learning experience. (What isnít?)
It all depends
It all depends on how you look at it. (What doesnít depend on how you look at it?)
It really stops to make you think. (What doesnít, if you think about it?)
It makes me appreciate what I have
It's a matter of opinion. (What isnít?)
It's a matter of interpretation. (And your point is . . . )
Looks like some weather moving in. (Itís ALL weather!)
Not too bad.
That's interesting. (What isnít interesting? My shoes are interesting, so what are you saying?)
That's different. (As opposed to ďthatís the same?Ē Define your terms
That's (insert word here) for you
That's weird. (As opposed to what? Define your terms)
We agree to disagree. (Then they agree)

Appendix of cliches spawned, unfortunately, from specialized areas of American Life

Service Industry Cliches

Can I help you find anything?  
Come visit us again.
Did you find everything you need? (No, but I found everything I wanted.)
May I help you? (Just browsing.)
The customer is always right. (Unless he or she is wrong)
Will that be all? (No, that will be it.)
Will that be everything for you? (No, this will be everything for that other guy)

American/Sports Cliches

I gave it my all
I gave it 110 percent (as opposed to 100%)
I gave it my best
One game at a time (as opposed to three or four?)
They came to play. (Who doesnít? What are athletes paid for? ďTo sit and watch?Ē)
We came to play. (See above.)
You've got to give the other team credit (No you donít. You donít have to do anything.)
 

@ 2006 Scott Wrobel