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That is so cliché! Posted by on Sep 24, 2013 in English Vocabulary

What is so cliché? What is a cliché? Have you ever heard this word used before in English? It is originally a French word, but English speakers have borrowed it and incorporated it into our own vocabulary as a word that means:

an overused word, phrase, or idea

The word cliché often refers to specific figurative phrases (idioms, metaphors, etc.) that are overused, or are used so often by people. Clichés are phrases that are said too much!

I have a list below of some common clichés in English and what they mean. Just because these phrases are clichés, doesn’t mean you can’t use them, you just shouldn’t overuse them, because that is what makes them cliché.

Common clichés:

“When it rains, it pours.”
This means it often feels like many bad things (or good things) happen at one time or when one bad/good thing happens other bad/good things start to happen too.

“Everything happens for a reason.”
This is often said to a person after something bad or seemingly bad has happened. It isn’t always what the person wants to hear during a difficult time.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
This is usually said after a person has had a failure at something. It is said as a way of encouraging the person to not give up to easily.

“Curiosity killed the cat.”
This implies that it is not good to be too curious, it might get you into trouble.

“It’s the best thing since sliced bread.”
This means it is something that is very good.

“It takes two to tango.”
This means if something happens with two people, either good or bad, they both are responsible.

Of course there are many more clichés in English, but these are just a few for you to be aware of. Are there any clichés in your language that you can think of and translate to share with us?

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About the Author: Gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.