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Are There No New Phrases Under the Sun?

by Keith Koffler on February 17, 2012, 12:47 pm

One of the best pieces of advice on writing I’ve seen – and don’t always follow – is the demand author Martin Amis would make of his close friend, the late journalist Christopher Hitchens: Purge all clichés.

Not only, I’ve found, does this eliminate worn phrases from your prose. It also makes you think of something original, and helps your writing sparkle.

Nowhere perhaps is the resort to cliches more prolific than in political dialogue and, I’m sorry to say, in journalism. Once a phrase takes hold in the discourse, every lazy mind in Washington uses it repeatedly and well past its expiration date.

I thought you might enjoy this cliché compilation from Politico. As you can see, the proof is in the pudding.


Susan February 17, 2012 at 1:33 pm

After reading The Daily Caller’s exposé on Media Matters, I wouldn’t be surprised if a good many overused clichés are courtesy of the Obama team talking points.

Sadie February 17, 2012 at 1:44 pm

“As you can see, the proof is in the pudding”

Ha! Thought I wouldn’t notice.

Star February 17, 2012 at 1:48 pm was under the sun…

Star February 17, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Kinda beating a dead horse with a broken record?

Jack February 17, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Sharp as expected!

Lanie February 17, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Tried to view the video but it is “currently unavailable”. What’s up with that?

Lanie February 17, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Kinda like the 30-60 second TV commercials reduced to 15 seconds since that is all the modern brain can absorb at one time.

langley barfly February 17, 2012 at 3:06 pm

I didnt know Callista “frigid, stuck-up, ice queen” Gingrich could speak or had a voice… -lol

Susan February 17, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Have you met her langley? To me she seems like a very loving wife to Newt. Regardless, she isn’t running for office, and as long as she keeps her nose out of my family’s life I could care less how well she speaks.

Star February 17, 2012 at 4:41 pm

I haven’t met any of these people, but I have impressions–and of course, snarks.

DeniseVB February 17, 2012 at 3:20 pm

The only politician I enjoy hearing from is Sarah Palin. So refreshing, folksy and uplifting. She had me at the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull :D

AFVET February 17, 2012 at 4:16 pm

I agree.
Sarah is the type of person that built this Country.
Down to earth no nonsense, straight into the wind, never say die.
An attitude that says ‘BRING IT’ !

Star February 17, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Why doesn’t Sarah wear lipstick anymore…just wondering…

Susan February 17, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Never noticed myself. In my opinion, what she is saying is more important than what she is wearing.

Star February 18, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Next time look–she looks better with lipstick.

Susan February 18, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Women with natural beauty don’t have to paint their faces.

Star February 20, 2012 at 12:19 pm

She has plenty of makeup on–just not lipstick. It makes her look wan and less powerful.

Dan February 17, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Reminds me of some of Rush’s media montages. What a gaggle of goofy geese.

Sadie February 17, 2012 at 6:38 pm

File that with “nattering nabobs of negativism and an “effete corps of impudent snobs.”

Gee…I sure do miss the old days when you could pistol whip the press with panache.

Mike Lester February 17, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Politics is bad. Sports is worse. A teacher friend of mine and I used to regularly watch football w/ the sound off and the rule was to ONLY speak in cliches. “you can throw out the record book when these two teams get together”. It’s remarkably easy and all too revealing. But “at the end of the day”, I’ve got a lot of time invested in it.

Always On Watch February 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm

We’ve become a nation of sound bytes and cliches.

The video does bring that point hom.

Aunty M February 20, 2012 at 7:47 pm

At the end of the day, at the end of the day, at the end of the day……….this too, is so overused, just as basically was some years ago.