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 & Busted New Hotness
Made a mountain out of a molehill Saw a duck and shouted “dragon!”
Quiet as a church mouse Silent as a shadow’s whisper
Ready and willing On it like a bonnet
Wore his heart on his sleeve Flew his feelings from a flagpole

And so forth.

Come, join me in the CRP. If drop me an email at 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.

22 thoughts on “The Cliche Rotation Project

  1. 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!

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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

  6. 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

  7. 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?”

  8. 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”

  9. 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.

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