Tag Archives: idioms

The Art of Mangling Clichés

I’ve never met a cliché that I haven’t mangled in some way or other.

The other day I was thinking to myself, “Hey, wait a minute. There is a cliché that I know inside out. That I would never, not in a million years, mangle. A dollar for your thoughts. Hah!”

It took me a few hours to realize that perhaps the correct saying is actually, “A penny for your thoughts”, and maybe even “A nickel for your thoughts”. But it’s highly unlikely that inflation has had that kind of impact on this particular cliché just yet.

I’m not sure why I have this glaring lack of ability when it comes to clichés. All I know is that I usually don’t dare to employ a cliché when I’m writing anything.

Once, I sent an email to a group of wonderful, empowering women who have been by my side every day for the past five years or so, and I headed it “Petal to the medal”. I meant, I realized later, “pedal to the metal”, but to this day, “petal to the medal” looks right to me (and as proof, I actually had to Google “petal to the medal cliché” to find out exactly what the right phrase was).

Luckily, embarrassment isn’t something that happens when I’m within the circle of this particular group of friends. But still, it was a reminder that I must stay away from clichés.

I guess as a writer, this is a good thing. On the other hand, in my current WIP, words and idioms play a rather large role.

So I’m now well-armed: I decided to get a copy of The Facts on File Dictionary of Clichés, and on my wishlist is The Scholastic Dictionary of Idioms, which I had borrowed from the library last year but didn’t get a chance to do more than dip into.

I figure I’ll be well-prepared as a result.

What about you? Are there any clichés that you tend to mangle?