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Mar 3 / King Kaufman

Revisiting the cliche blacklist: Are there new offenders we should ban?

It’s a cliché to pack a blog post about clichés with clichés, so I’m not going to do it. I should get a medal for this. I really want to do it.

That’s the thing about clichés. They’re alluring, seductive. It feels so good when your brain reaches for a clever phrase and—hey! Here’s one!

I’m sure thousands of such moments have led to this terrifying, entertaining collection of 150 clichés that have been banned from the pages of the Washington Post’s Sunday Outlook section by editor Carlos Lozada and his staff. Lozada writes:

Over the past few years, some colleagues at The Washington Post and I have played our own parlor game, assembling a list of verbal crutches, stock phrases, filler words, cliches and perpetually misused expressions that we should avoid in The Post’s Sunday Outlook section — or at least think hard about before using. The list received some attention last year on the media blog Romenesko, triggering many more nominations and additions.

If you’re a writer, even if you never write about Beltway politics, you’re sure to find your own words in that list, taunting you, laughing at your laziness, or worse yet your silly idea that you were being original when you wrote, say, “This is not your father’s [anything]” or “What happens in [somewhere] stays in [somewhere].”

At Bleacher Report, we have our own cliché blacklist. There are only 20 phrases on it, but we’re serious about them. We refer to the list when evaluating current and prospective B/R writers.

Our list is about a year and a half old. I think it might be time to update it. We solicited your help when we made the list, so I’m going to do that again: Do you think there are clichés that belong on the list more than some of the incumbents? Any new phrases that have become hackneyed and tired in the last 18 months? If so, suggest them in the comments.

  • Robert Wood

    Good stuff King. The list seemed a little harsh at first, but it helps me see my writing from a different perspective, which is always a god thing.
    Here’s my recommendation for a cliche to add to your updated list:

    “Team X controls their own destiny.” (unless Team X’s cheerleaders are The Fates and/or their head coach is John Calvin)

  • Jen

    Take his talents to…