Careful writers and speakers agree that cliches are generally to be avoided. However, nearly all of us continue to use them. Why do they persist in our language?
In It's Been Said Before, lexicographer Orin Hargraves examines the peculiar idea and power of the cliche. He helps readers understand why certain phrases became cliches and why they should be avoided - or why they still have life left in them. Indeed, cliches can be useful - even powerful. And few people even agree on which expressions are cliches and which are not. Many regard any frequent idiom as a cliche, and a phrase regarded as a cliche in one
context may be seen simply as an effective expression in another. Examples drawn from data about actual usage support Hargraves' identification of true cliches. They also illuminate his commentary on usage problems and helpful suggestions for eliminating cliches where they serve no useful purpose.
Concise and lively, It's Been Said Before serves as a guide to the most overused phrases in the English language - and to phrases that are used exactly as often as they should be.
Orin Hargraves is a lexicographer and author of language reference books. He grew up in the mountains of southwestern Colorado and graduated from the University of Chicago. A past president of the Dictionary Society of North America, Hargraves has contributed to dozens of dictionaries and other language reference books. He currently lives in Niwot, Colorado, and researches the computational use of language at the University of Colorado at Boulder.