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The Cliche Rotation Project

The following post was inspired by the fourteenth suggestion in No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog, which was randomly selected by Jon Deal of Ransom-Note-Typography. Jon posted a video today in honor of the occasion, so you should definitely check it out.

Despite crotchety old men like me carping about acronyms like "LOL" and "IMHO," we've always had literary shortcuts that allow us to get our point across economically. They are called "cliches," and they are an essential element of our language. Just think how many words you'd have to write or say to communicate the same idea that "caught with his pants down" expresses so succinctly.

Of course, the problem with cliches is that they are just so darned ... you know. Cliche.

That's why I am initiating the Cliche Rotation Project, to replace our current set of cliches with new ones of equivalent meaning. For example:
Old & BustedNew Hotness
Made a mountain out of a molehillSaw a duck and shouted "dragon!"
Quiet as a church mouseSilent as a shadow's whisper
Ready and willingOn it like a bonnet
Wore his heart on his sleeveFlew his feelings from a flagpole
And so forth.

Come, join me in the CRP. If drop me an email at matthew@defectiveyeti.com with the following information:

  • The old cliche
  • Your replacement cliche
  • Your name
  • URL of your blog, or where ever you'd like me to link to when I publish these
I'll collect all the entries and print them here Friday. Or do something with them. I'm not really sure, yet.

If you needs some cliches to get started, go here, browse here, or pick one off this list.

Posted on January 23, 2007 to Cliche Rotation Project, Plugapalooza


This is genius! I'm on board! I mean, "my keyboard rattles with yours".

Posted by: Rob Cockerham on January 24, 2007 8:50 AM

I remember reading a Mad Magazine bit that was similar to this years ago. Theirs was more of a Russian Reversal though. For example: "A watched boil never pops". That one still grosses me out!

Posted by: brian on January 24, 2007 8:59 AM

So, does knowing why "saw a duck and shouted 'dragon!'" is funny make me a huge dork?

Posted by: James on January 24, 2007 10:24 AM

James: because of the Atari 2600 game Adventure?

Posted by: Dennis on January 24, 2007 12:37 PM

Very cool idea. However, for such a cool occation, I definately recommend a spell checker. they are all roughly equivilent!

Posted by: Jon on January 24, 2007 12:40 PM

See, I'd heard "on it like a bonnet" before, but because the person saying it might as well be called Mumbles, I thought he was saying "on it like ebonics." Which makes way more sense.

Posted by: solaana on January 24, 2007 12:44 PM

anagrams?? acronyms?

Posted by: qp on January 24, 2007 1:25 PM

Dennis: Yes. You are a dork, too.

Posted by: James on January 25, 2007 6:37 AM

The cliche that's been bugging me lately is "achingly beautiful," used almost exclusively in reviews of one sort or another (music, art, plays, just about anything). But I have no clever rewrite, alas.

Posted by: The Velvet Blog on January 25, 2007 6:21 PM

Old- If you can't beat 'em, join'em.
New- I, for one, welcome our new Google overlords

I also like- In there like swimwear for ready and willing


Posted by: Tom on January 26, 2007 4:14 AM

How about this:

Old: Rolling in dough
New: Like an Escalade with spinnerz

Posted by: Liesel Elliott on January 26, 2007 5:25 AM

old- give 110%
new- overclock it

Posted by: Tom on January 26, 2007 6:22 AM

old: jumped the gun
new: popped in the pants

Posted by: shannon on January 27, 2007 7:58 PM

old: between a rock and a hard place
new: between a dude and a fat chick

Posted by: andrew on January 27, 2007 9:01 PM

I should have specified that this new saying 'stuck between a dude and a fat chick,' is specifically applicable on a dance floor.

Posted by: andrew on January 28, 2007 3:39 PM

Howzabout the line repeated in the DSL commercial:

"That's so dial-up!" (things which move slowly)

Posted by: Little Willow on January 29, 2007 6:35 PM

old: loose cannon
new: loose wii-mote

Posted by: jeremy on January 30, 2007 1:40 PM

old: mad as a march hare
new: crazy as a crack head

old: speaks with a forked tongue
new: pure lawyer-ese

old: she has bats in her belfry
new: I think her hard drive is failing

Posted by: Tom on January 31, 2007 4:38 AM

Excellent project! In Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado," the phrase "put in your oar" meant the same thing as "put in your two cents worth." "Just sayin'" seems to have taken over, and is already a cliche. How about "Only opining?"

Posted by: Douglas on February 1, 2007 8:21 PM

can't call your soul your own - "someone else is thinking your thoughts for you."

whatever floats your boat - "whatever rocks your gypsy soul"

every dog has his day - "every dragon has his decade"

a distinction without a difference - "word wonkery"

I'm fine as frog's hair - "as fine as a carbon nanotube"

vested interest - one could say "I want so that I may continue in my comfy condition."

life is tough and then you die - "Difficulties precede termination."

every man for himself - "a breakdown in the bands of brotherhood"

bats in the belfry - a commenter at Defective Yeti suggested "hard drive failing," but that's much more catastrophic. How about "pixels in the Pentium?"

stream of consciousness - "reckless random rambling"

Posted by: Douglas on February 1, 2007 9:42 PM

I was thinking more about that weird stage where your hard drive works but is starting to fail and all the odd things happen but aren't consistent.

Posted by: Tom on February 8, 2007 11:02 AM

Old: Off his rocker.

New: Off his mini-bike.

Posted by: Jill on February 12, 2007 4:35 PM