common phrases and expressions that have been
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a type of figurative
in the English language.
people have said them and written them too many
times and they have lost their original meanings or effects. They are no longer original or interesting.
Here are two examples of clichés:
He is as
blind as a bat!
(He does not see very well.)
Don't cry over spilled milk.
(Don't waste your time worrying about something that has already happened.)
Most clichés are phrases that were originally imaginative, fun, and
Some people like to use clichés in their writing for humor or to make a
You should avoid using
clichés when writing in English, especially in
Clichés are more acceptable in informal
too many clichés can annoy
Clichés can also be classified as other types of figurative
For example, easy as pie
is a cliché. It is an overused idiom
Slept like a baby
is another cliché. It is an overused simile
American English clichés
Below, you will see a list of some common American English clichés. The
of each cliché is included.
Not everyone will agree that these are all clichés. Whether or
not a sentence or phrase becomes a clichés depends on the audience.
While some people may think a phrase is boring, others may still enjoy
- An apple a
day keeps the doctor away.
- ants in his
(A person who has ants
in his pants cannot sit without moving.)
- apple of my
(If you are the apple
of my eye, then you are my favorite.)
- as poor as
- as white as
- Beauty is in
the eye of the beholder.
(What you think is beautiful might not be beautiful to someone else.)
- Been there,
(I already had that experience.)
- best thing
since sliced bread
(something very good)
- Better safe
(It is good to be prepared for things even if they do not happen.)
- big as life
- busy as a bee
- chip off the
(A child who is a chip
off the old block acts like their parent.)
- cool as a
- Don't have a
(Do not get too excited or upset.)
- fat chance
(It will never happen)
- fresh as a
(something that is new, clean, or original)
- Give a
little, take a little.
(Help someone and they might help you.)
- Go with the
- Home is where
the heart is.
(It feels good to be at home with family.)
- If it ain't
broke, don't fix it.
(Do not change something that already works.)
- just fell off
the turnip truck
(Someone who just
fell off the turnip truck is inexperienced.)
- Knock on wood.
(Knock on wood
is a phrase people say when they do not want something
bad to happen. It is like a "good luck charm." It is a saying to keep
bad luck away.)
- Money does
not grow on trees.
(Be careful how much money you spend.)
- old as dirt
- once in a
(not very often.)
- open up a can
(create new problems when you are trying to solve a problem)
- rise and shine
- A rolling
stone gathers no moss.
(If a person is always moving to new places, then he will never form
relationships or have attachments to anything.)
- Stop and
smell the roses.
(Take time to enjoy life.)
- The grass is
always greener on the other side.
(Things or situations seem to look better for other people.)
- two peas in a
(two people that are similar or have a very close relationship)
- when pigs fly
- You can lead
a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.
(You can show people how to do things, but you cannot force them to do
This was an overview of clichés. Now that you understand,
time to practice! Get
our ESL Books.