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Clichés are expressions that have been used so much, they no longer carry any weight.

Your characters can use them in dialogue – no problem – and it might be useful to give such a trait to one particular character so that he/she stands out from the rest of your cast. Avoid having them all talk in clichés though!

My favourite is, for obvious reasons, ‘chasing the rainbow’.

Here are some more examples. In tune with the spirit of my ‘Safari Supper’ novel, I’ve confined myself to those involving animals. There are, however, many more.

  • Ants in the pants
  • Bear with a sore head
  • Bee’s knees
  • Bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
  • Champing at the bit
  • Chewing the cud
  • Closing the stable door after the horse has bolted
  • Crocodile tears
  • Cry wolf
  • Curiosity killed the cat
  • Dog in the manger
  • Donkey’s years
  • Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
  • Every dog has its day
  • Fish in troubled waters
  • Fish out of water
  • Flea in your ear
  • Fly in the ointment
  • Go the whole hog
  • Go to the dogs
  • Hair of the dog
  • Lead a dog’s life
  • Lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink
  • More than one way to skin a cat
  • Pig in a poke
  • Playing ducks and drakes
  • Plenty of fish in the sea
  • Pretty kettle of fish
  • Putting the cart before the horse
  • Queer fish
  • Say ‘Boo’ to a goose
  • She’s no chicken
  • Spitting feathers
  • Take the tiger by the tail
  • Teach an old dog new tricks
  • Whale of a time
  • Wild goose chase
  • Wolf in sheep’s clothing

It’s recommended that clichés be avoided, but they can be useful for injecting humour. Former Liverpool FC manager, Bill Shankly is quoted as having said: ‘Football is not a matter of life and death. It’s far more important than that.’ It’s even mentioned on this Facebook page.

Your turn …

Which clichés grate with you?