Another Outdated Cliché

As I posted a couple of weeks back, writers these days are urged to avoid overworked idioms. Trouble is, it can be a real challenge to think of an interesting way of restating an old and weary cliché.

For instance, a writer could replace, “It was raining cats and dogs” with “It was a heavy downpour,” and be accurate, but not so eloquent. “It was raining stars and planets” might sound like overkill. Readers’ minds might automatically jump to the idiom you’re trying to replace. I’ve had that happen. It was so obvious that my mind went back to the original and the substitute sounded phony.

At a writers’ group meeting a few years back we were given some well-used idioms and were to suggest a substitute. I posted one on Feb 22nd, now here’s another for you to consider and offer suggestions:

He/ she/ it was “as old as the hills.”

Some suggested replacements:
Sticking to fact:
— “He’d made his four score and ten.”
— “She was the senior member in her nursing home.”
— “He was an octogenarian.”

More figurative:
— “He goes back to spats and top hats.”
— “That idea was around when Shakespeare was a scholar.”
— “That thing’s been around since Longfellow was a lad.” (If you prefer an American notable.)

Do you have any suggestions for replacements or have you read any that struck you as worthy of note?

5 thoughts on “Another Outdated Cliché

    1. So many expressions have become a priceless part of our language and can hardly be replaced or avoided. I don’t worry that much about using idioms, or cliches, but then, I’m a stick-in-the-mud. 🙂


  1. When I worked at Doubleday, we collected cliches. I was writing for the “Romance Library” and I was always in urgent need of one more cliche that expressed “whirlwind romance.” I have pages tacked to my worlds with lists of cliches. Those were the good old days 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now that’s really interesting! I can believe how needful new expressions would be. I’ve been reading book blurbs and can’t tell you how many say, “This is a story about love and second chances.” Sometimes “family” thrown in the mix.
      Thank you for reading and for your comments. I feel honored that someone who actually worked for a publisher is reading my blog. 🙂


I'd like to hear your thoughts on this. Please leave a comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.