Trite, hackneyed, tired — there's plenty of reasons to avoid using clichés in your daily life. While they can often be an easy way to express yourself, more often than not they're the lazy person's crutch. Start digging deeper into your vocabulary and leave these 15 clichés behind.

What is a cliché and why is it so bad?

A cliché is a phrase that has been beaten to death. Because it’s been so overused, any significant meaning it may have had has been lost. Instead of adding color and interest to your writing, you often wind up sounding corny.

If you’re writing about how scrappy business owners are more likely to achieve success, that message got lost the minute you wrote “survival of the fittest.” Charles Darwin sounded original in his theory of evolution; you just sound clichéd.

How to avoid clichés in writing

Words are powerful. But clichés are so overused that they lose authority. Unfortunately clichés are so ubiquitous that you may not even realize when they sneak into your writing.

The best way to cut clichés out of your vocabulary is to proofread, proofread, and proofread again. Take a break and get away from your work before you take one last pass to remove clichés. Even better, ask someone to edit your work. An editor who isn’t too emotionally close to your prose can remove your clichés.

Removing clichés will tighten up your writing and make your work more specific and descriptive. You can avoid flowery descriptions and make your writing more accessible.

Pull out a thesaurus to find good alternatives. Instead of “in this day and age,” just say “today.” Avoid “pros and cons” and try “costs and benefits” instead.

The hardest part about clichés is they are so widely known that they can sneak past you. If you spot any of these phrases in your writing, pull out your red pen.

Writing on the wall

Whirlwind tour

Patience of Job

Never a dull moment

Sands of time

Paying the piper

March of history

Hook, line, and sinker

Long arm of the law

In the nick of time

Leave no stone unturned

Fall on deaf ears

Cool as a cucumber

Cry over spilled milk

Champing at the bit