Whether they make your skin crawl or tickle your fancy, the use of cliches has spread like wildfire over the years. These phrases, defined by their overuse, have flooded our everyday lives, making it difficult to get through a full day without hearing or speaking several. Critics discourage their use, especially in writing, as their presence indicates a lack of imagination. Further, many of these expressions are so overused and unnecessary they can be categorized as pure fluff. There are few positive views on these hackneyed phrases; however, I tend to enjoy them (in moderation).
First, their origins fascinate me. As reported by Life Magazine, the expression “hair of the dog that bit you,” a common idea for curing a hangover, is derived from the medieval belief that if bitten by a rabid dog, pressing the hair of that dog to the wound could cure the infection. The term “falling on the sword,” meaning to offer resignation or accept the consequences of fault, can be found in the Bible in reference to King Saul falling on his sword to commit suicide while in battle with the Philistines. Second, and more importantly, I am impressed by their ability to deliver our thoughts in a concise, succinct manner that would be difficult to verbalize otherwise. In this sense, cliches create a common language which is beneficial as they carry so much information in only a handful of words.
Read More »