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English Clichés and Their Meanings

What are clichés?

This week’s topic is about English clichés and their Meanings.

In English we use the French word Cliché to describe phrases or expressions that have been so overused and become so common that they have lost their original meaning.

Cliché, girl hanging from a clock - losing track of time

Clichés were once expressions that were new, interesting and fresh, and which were liked and adopted by the public to the point of rolling off the tongue without even noticing. Some are used in specific contexts, whilst others are just repeated parrot-fashion, leading to boredom or mild irritation.  For example, the expression giving 110%  (is that even possible?) or at the end of the day (to mean taking everything  into consideration). These expressions have become some of the most repeated clichés in recent years. Turn on the telly and see how many times you hear them in interviews. You will be surprised!

Clichés can be divided into different groups:

To express time:

  • In the nick of time – just in time.
  • Only time will tell – something will become clear over time.
  • A matter of time – something will happen sooner or later.
  • Lose track of time – to not pay attention to time and as a result be late for something because of it.

English Clichés  and their meanings, Don't cry over spilt milk

To describe situations:

  • Scared out of one’s wits – to be extremely frightened.
  • All is fair in love and war to go to any extent to claim somebody’s love.
  • All is well that ends well a happy ending that compensated for the difficulty you had to endure.
  • The calm before the storm a quiet or peaceful period before a period of difficulty.
  • What goes around comes around – used to say that if you treat someone badly you will eventually be treated badly by someone else.
  • If life gives you lemons, make lemonade – Make something good out of a bad situation.
  • Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed – to be in a bad mood when you wake up.

When life gives you lemons make lemonade graphic

To describe love:

  • Opposites attract – used to say that people who are very different from each other are often attracted to each other.
  • Don’t cry over spilt milk upset over something that has already happened and cannot be changed.
  • Fall head over heels in love – to be madly in love with someone.
  • Laughter is the best medicine – to mean that trying to be happy is a good way to stop worrying.
  • Kiss and make up – to forgive each other and be friends again.

Other common clichés:

  • All that glitters isn’t gold –  everything that looks precious or true, turns out to be so.
  • Don’t get your knickers in a twist – don’t get angry or annoyed about silly stuff.
  • All for one, and one for all – we are all in it together.
  • He has his tail between his legs – being embarrassed, especially after losing or having to admit that one was wrong.  

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