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What's Up With These Phrases & Cliches?

Updated on May 14, 2009

I once had a boss who pretty much spoke in cliches. I wish that I had written them all down at the time, but I had no way to do so while I was working! Most of the time, she made absolutely no sense at all, and would use each phrase way out of context.

Because of her, I really began to dislike the use of cliches, but after hearing them every single day, some of them begin to make you wonder.

Do some of the most common cliches make any sense, or are they just ridiculous sayings?

I'm going to pull out a few, and see where it takes me. What do you think?

Light At The End of The Tunnel

People use this phrase when times are not going so well and they are feeling optimistic. It refers to "a way out".

I think this is an appropriate cliché. A tunnel is dark and can be disorienting. It is possible to get lost or trapped. These are bad times, but when that speck of light comes into view, there is a renewed sense of hope.

In uncertain or scary times in a person's life, a light at the end of the tunnel is sometimes the only thing that keeps them going.

Fighting Like Cats and Dogs

When two people or groups are bickering or arguing non-stop, people say that they are "fighting like cats and dogs". I don't really like the use of this cliché.

Dogs and cats may sometimes get into it, but it is no more than two dogs or two cats getting into a fight! From my observation and experience, dogs and cats get along swimmingly!

The phrase should be something like, "fighting like siblings." (I know that is what the cliché describes, but it makes much more sense to just use this as the phrase!)

Don't Get Your Panties In A Bunch

There is not a funnier phrase than this. Referring to a person's underwear bunching up or giving a wedgie, this phrase aims to tell people to stop being so dramatic or upset about something.

I personally think this is a great use of words. Who among us enjoy having our underwear stuck in the crack? I know I don't like it, and it is annoying and makes me uncomfortable.

I never want to get my "panties in a bunch". (Briefs are more my style, but I don't want them bunching either!)

The Ball Is In Your Court

Representing an athlete in possession of a ball, this cliché is used to describe a situation in which a person is to make the next move.

It may be used by a man or a woman looking to start a relationship. One or the other may make the first move and then say, "Now the ball is in your court." It's now up to the other person to make the next move.

I think this one could use some more. No one person has a court, and not everyone even plays a sport! Seems a little silly to say something like this. Just tell the person its their move!

It Aint Over Til The Fat Lady Sings

This is pretty funny. Marking the end of an opera, a fat lady will sing. I have no idea if this is still true or not. I have never been, and probably will never go to, an opera, but the idea that this happens to end an event is quite amusing.

This is most commonly used during sports games. A team may be losing by what seems like an insurmountable amount, but until the last second ticks off the clock, the game isn't over and they have a chance.

I like the use of this cliché. Its funny and makes sense. A game really isn't over until there is no time left, and if the fat lady signals the end of something, then this works!

Take It One Day At A Time

When times are tough, people often need to take life one day at a time. When there is a lot going on in some one's life, sometimes it is better to forget about tomorrow and just focus on today. If you can get through today, you can then be confident in working on tomorrow.

Eventually things will ease up, and a little focus on the future won't hurt.

Like Two Peas In A Pod

This cliché is dumb. Peas look alike, sure, but who says they have the same personality!? It is used to describe two people or items that fit together well due to their personas, not their shape or size!

If someone used this cliché solely to describe two people that fit together due to their shapes...well then alright, I could get behind that, but other than that this is just silly. "They go together like peanut butter and jelly" is a far better cliché for a description of two people who belong together.

All's Well That Ends Well

This cliché is hit or miss for me. It basically means that even though something doesn't go well, it is alright if it ends well.

This is somewhat true. If the final outcome is a good one, it doesn't really matter how it came to be. I would argue though, that the journey is often more important than the destination, and if it doesn't go well, then all is not well in the end!

What Goes Around Comes Around

Karma anyone? This cliché is just a plain old belief. Treat others well, and you will be treated well. Treat others poorly, and you just will happen to you!

It's Not Whether You Win Or Lose, It's How You Play The Game

What a crock! It is ALL whether you win or lose. Why should we be teaching our kids that it is only important to have fun?

It is important that kids have fun playing anything, but it is also important to teach them to be competitive! They should want to win everything they can. That way, when they grow up, they strive to be the best at everything they do.

We don't want to teach our kids to be losers, we want to teach them how to lose with dignity, and to do better next time!

Get this cliché out of here.

Time Heals All Wounds

This may be the most sentimental of the cliches. There are many events in life that are extremely difficult to cope with. Death, divorce, and loss can be devastating, but this cliché is true...

Time does heal all wounds. The scars will always remain, but the pain will ease up after a while.

This is one cliché that everyone should keep in mind whenever something goes wrong in life.

Better Late Than Never

There are reasons deadlines are set. If it didn't matter when something was supposed to happen, then it could never be late.

This cliché is just an excuse for people who can't turn things in on time, or meet deadlines. If a columnist has an article due by Friday but turns it in on Saturday, it's late! Turning it in on Saturday is as good as never turning it in!

Do it on time, and stop using this phrase.


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    • profile image

      frank 8 years ago

      Loved this post... I'll read them one at a time...

    • C.Ferreira profile image

      C.Ferreira 8 years ago from Rutland, VT

      thanks for the comment Aya...

      I think that phrase makes the least sense to you because you have heard it incorrectly! The phrase is "You can't have your cake and eat it to. It still doesn't make sense though. I think its a dumb one as well!

      And yes, that should definitely be added to time heals all wounds. Nothing can fix the now!

    • Aya_Hajime profile image

      Aya_Hajime 8 years ago

      A common one that makes the least sense to me is:

      "You can have your cake and eat it too."

      Why would you have a cake in the first place if it is not to eat it - lol

      I also like "Time heals all wounds" but they should always add "but it sure hurts like a %$#^$ now!" :)

    • C.Ferreira profile image

      C.Ferreira 8 years ago from Rutland, VT

      Absolutely Chris. They are definitely a good way to make a quick point! Thanks for the read, I appreciate your comment.

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 8 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Enjoyed this hub, too. And I agree, some cliches are so old and overused nobody bothers to check if they really do make sense. But that said, cliches are handy when you want to make youself easily understood without doing an essay! Thanks for sharing :D

    • C.Ferreira profile image

      C.Ferreira 8 years ago from Rutland, VT

      Thanks G-Ma...that is not a bad one. Perhaps I'll add it to the list!

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 8 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      Very well done I liked this a whole's one for you that I like " You can say anything you want, but it's what you do that Counts" G-Ma :O) Hugs