Avoid Clichés Like the Plague
I know you’ve all heard this particular cliché but I have to argue this one.
Cliché: a phrase or word that has lost its original effectiveness or power from overuse
Simple enough. Stop saying that! But I have to argue that “avoid (fill in blank) like
the plague” is not a cliché so much as a sensible health warning. In defense of
clichés, they can also be helpful little vehicles to short-cut information.
Since we’re all likely to be familiar with the phrase it’s often not even
necessary to finish the entire sentence before the recipient catches on to what
you’re saying and you can move onto something else.
So, when someone tells you to avoid something like the plague you can thank them kindly
and for goodness sakes, avoid the whatever it is—plagues are nothing to mess
Teachers of English, writing, and grammar, toss out a few of your own much-loved or hated clichés
and challenge your students to find their etymology. Then write about it.