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Most Hated Clichés in English

Cliché are very annoying. If you pay attention to what you hear and read during a whole day, you’ll discover many of them. Their frequency in usage reveals the user’s laziness, and refusal to pay attention to the language he or she is using. Here’s a short list of common clichés that get my goat or annoy me.

  1. To be perfectly honest  – This one really annoys me. Why, are you dishonest at other times?
  2. The fact of the matter is  – Pay close attention to this and you’ll discover that it’s never a fact, but usually a very biased opinion of the speaker.
  3. Amazing – Used to boredom by late night TV advertisements promising results you’ll never see in real life.
  4. Thinking outside the box – What’s the opposite? Do we otherwise think inside the box, what box?
  5. Customer-centric – Every single time someone uses this phrase, the final emphasis is to eventually maximize the seller’s profits. Usually it’s not the system that cares, but an individual serving an individual customer.
  6. At this point in time – Time never stands still, except for politicians blaming previous opposition governments for their own mistakes. So how can we be in a point in time? If time is moving, it can’t be a point anymore. It’s a line then.
  7. Having said that – If you’ve said something earlier, does it become a fact or an unforgettable expression or does it compel everyone to follow in a certain direction?
  8. To be fair – Does this mean that you are making an exception and you are not fair at other times?
  9. You know – Many people begin their sentences with “You know,…”. What is there to know about when someone is telling you his/her opinion?
  10.  You should give it 110% – Usually it’s other things, which weaken ends results, and not whether someone has given 99% or 98%.
  11.  Keep in touch – Hah! As if the person saying that really means it.
  12.  Actually – Many people start sentences with “Actually”. Does it mean that if they hadn’t used the word “actually,” the meaning would’ve been the opposite or somewhat different?
  13.  Paradigm shift – Company directors and consultants love using this phrase to mean that everyone else should start thinking like them.
  14. Have a good one – Have a good one of what? The rest of the day or a laugh?
  15.  At the end of the day – What does this mean really? Did the speaker have a different opinion in the evening, in the afternoon, or at noon?
  16.  With all due respect – People use this often. Then they follow it with some form of disrespect or even insult.
  17.  I’d be more than happy to – What is more than happy? Does the speaker really mean that she will be ecstatic, delirious, or blissful?
  18.  For the record – Who is keeping the record, what kind of record?
  19.  He can talk the talk, but can he walk the talk? – Serious writers all over the world are using this phrase to assess the enormity of president elect Obama’s task ahead. Does this mean that until now he has been standing still while talking?
  20.  Lessons will be learned – Politicians and company directors use this when they can’t find any other explanation for some really tragic event. How can anyone predict that everyone will learn identical lessons from the same incident or whether it will even affect someone?

Now, this is my list of annoying clichés. Do you know of any, which are not on this list?

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User Comments
  1. Angel M

    On November 20, 2008 at 3:17 am

    Good information. I hate the “I’ll get back to you” cliche. Then everything’ll be just fine is another one.

  2. Frank

    On November 21, 2008 at 8:43 am

    Nice list. Clichés are really annoying.

  3. Julia

    On November 22, 2008 at 8:41 am

    Nice handy collection. Now that I’ve read this, I’ll pay more attention tohow many I use.

  4. leena mathew

    On November 23, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    this is nice identifying the common mistakes we make in daily life. this is sarcastically amusing!

  5. Lucas Dié

    On November 26, 2008 at 7:40 am

    Very amusing and only too true.

    Actually ;) , I use ‘to be fair’ only when gathering for a real facer :D … as in my review of Dame Barbara Cartland’s odious little book on etiquette

  6. K Kristie

    On November 28, 2008 at 8:27 am

    Ha!Ha! I totally agree…Guilty!…:)

  7. R.B. Parsley

    On December 2, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    I’m guilty!!! What can I say, but great article!! I have a few of these I use quite often, but exactly what is thinking ouside the box anyway? I don’t live in a box, I live in a house! I think there are quite a few here that does get very annoying when you hear them, and I hear quite a few of them on a daily basis, due to working with the public. Again great article!!! Keep up the great work, Rana.


  8. murray0009

    On December 6, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    to think outside the box is to be broadminded and use your why don’t they just say that
    the cliche that i find exeptionally annoying is AT THE END OF THE DAY
    can we start a world wide movement to stop it’s useage

  9. gerry

    On December 7, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Well, there you go! I wish I could get my head round that! Basically! I see where you’re coming from! Will be in touch!

  10. Gone.

    On December 9, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    I haven’t laughed so hard like that in a long time! It wasn’t that the phrases were funny, but your witty comebacks to them. Although, I’m guilty as charged, I’ve said a few of them. Well, I won’t REALLY be charged. lol…

  11. rutherfranc

    On January 20, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    lawyers should read this, they are the experts in making a simple sentence confusing..

  12. PR Mace

    On January 21, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Sorry, I somtimes use a couple of these: I won’t tell you which ones and my husband will say,” I know, I know.” I hate the phase: my bad.

  13. Sandy

    On March 14, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    What about “political correctness gone mad” and “spiralling out of control”?

  14. sweetestsadist

    On May 30, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Wow. People don’t apologize for using these. Only about a third of these actually had validity. The rest, are just things that annoy the cynical jerk of a writer. He/she obviously just has a superiority complex. Here, let me condense the list for you: 4, 5, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, and 18. 19 and 20 must be dismissed because nobody outside of cheesy 80’s action movies use them. All the others are things that people either say to be nice or to help get his or her point across in a discussion. The writer of this column is just an over-analytical jacka ss who needs to insult others to feel like an intellectual.

  15. sweetestsadist

    On May 30, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    I just looked the writer up. It’s a guy. With a girl’s name. That’s probably why he’s such a bitter misanthrope. And Rana, I know one of the sentences is not a complete sentence. Don’t use grammatical mistakes of other’s to give yourself a feeling of superiority over your critics. If you want people to care about the criticisms you stated in your article, learn to accept criticism. You look like a douche.

  16. Rita

    On June 20, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    NIce, though I am guilty of many of these. I agree with Sandy – “political correctness gone mad” and “spiralling out of control” as also “you see” are cliches.

  17. Ian

    On February 1, 2010 at 6:13 am

    Cliches are words used usually unconsciously by means of copying others. They seem to spread like wildfire. I totally agree that they are really irritating and do not stand up to any form of logical scrutiny.
    The same as the use of the word ‘like’ inserted completely inappropriately into sentences, usually (but not always) by young females in order to sound ‘with it’ or ‘cool’.
    Cliches such as ‘ballpark figure’ ‘let me run this past you’
    ‘I’ll generate a copy of that for you’ and ‘error of judgement’ have to be my all time loathed cliches.

  18. oneguy

    On May 3, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    If the person writing this article had significant education in geometry, he/she would know that every line has a point and a point is only a specific place on the line, therefore there can be a point in time, meaning at the specific time the sentence is being written.

  19. doingaproject

    On May 9, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    You REALLY woke up on the wrong side of life.
    Some of these things aren’t even cliches, they’re just things that you find annoying…
    If you set out to critique everything then you’re never going to be happy. This could be why you seem to be such a bitter canker-blossom.

  20. Bozo

    On September 10, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Can’t we all just get along?!

  21. as

    On March 3, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    these are just idioms. nothing wrong with them!

  22. amazing :)

    On November 1, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    With all due respect and To be perfectly honest the fact of the matter is amazing when one Thinks outside the box. Actually,To be fair, Having said that, at this point in time You know You should give it 110% at the end of the day to Have a good one. I’d be more than happy to keep this For the record as Lessons will be learned

    A mix of all the clichés

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