A Cliché is A _______ Expression: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know what a cliché is? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on clichés, including the definition, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What is a cliché?

According to Literary Devices, a cliche is a worn out expression. This is a trite phrase that has become dull with overuse. Like finding a new look or new outfit, try to look for a new phrase or a twist on the stereotype to bring flavor to your speech and writing. The best answer to the related questions “why should we avoid a cliche” is because these pithy sayings or overused phrase get boring after a while and people lose their enthusiasm. They are useful when everyone knows their current meaning, but the use of clichés depends on the circumstances. Avoid a common cliché in lieu of an originality example. Avoid this overused word. You might use different cliches with teenagers, your best friend or your grandmother. Sometimes cliches give easier access for people to know what you are talking about. 

What are examples of clichés?

A cliché can be used in many different contexts in the English language. Trying to use a word or literary technique in a sentence is one of the best ways to memorize what it is, but you can also try making flashcards or quizzes that test your knowledge. Try using this term of the day in a sentence today! Below are a couple of examples of clichés that can help get you started incorporating this tool into your everyday use.  Take a look at these cliché examples from Your Dictionary and Literary Devices and see how many you know! 

  •  My dog is dumb as a doorknob.
  •  The writing’s on the wall
  •  Brave as a lion
  •  Kiss and make up
  •  Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed
  •  Opposites attract
  •  When the clock strikes midnight
  •  Toss your cookies
  •  Ashes to ashes, dust to dust
  •  No crap
  •  Love you more than life itself
  •  There I was
  •  Dawn of time
  •  All’s well that ends well
  •  End all be all
  •  Just a matter of time
  •  Lasted an eternity
  •  I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse. (The Godfather)
  •  The time of my life
  •  Even though she is 80 year old, she’s still sharp as a tack.
  •  All’s well that ends well
  •  At the speed of light
  •  Once upon a time
  •  In a jiffy
  •  If you build it, they will come. (Field of Dreams)
  •  I’m upset about my flat tire, but I guess it is what it is.
  •  Her advice is to live and let live.
  •  He has his tail between his legs
  •  The little boy has to learn that you can’t have your cake and eat it too.
  •  It was all a dream
  •  The ends justify the means
  •  It was a dark and stormy night
  •  The calm before the storm
  •  Time heals all wounds
  •  Every cloud has a silver lining
  •  The laundry came out as fresh as a daisy.
  •  Time flies
  •  A waste of time
  •  Only time will tell
  •  Had nerves of steel
  •  My coach told us that there’s no “i” in team.
  •  We’re not laughing at you we’re laughing with you
  •  Frightened to death
  •  Gut-wrenching pain
  •  Even though he didn’t like the gift, it’s the thought that counts.
  •  She doesn’t even go here! (Mean Girls)
  •  When life gives you lemons, make lemonade
  •  All is fair in love and war
  •  Fit as a fiddle
  •  That’s no moon; it’s a space station. (Star Wars: A New Hope)
  •  Scared out of my wits
  •  As old as the hills
  •  Cat got your tongue?
  •  “It’s better to have loved and lost, then to have never loved at all”
  •  And they all lived happily ever after
  •  I mean, I told you not to go in that house. (Get Out)
  •  Before the teacher could assign homework, the class was saved by the bell.
  •  Don’t get your knickers in a twist
  •  Laughter is the best medicine
  •  “With experience comes wisdom, and with wisdom comes experience”
  •  i am Groot. (Guardians of the Galaxy)
  •  My boyfriend says that Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder.
  •  All that glitters isn’t gold
  •  Ugly as sin
  •  A diamond in the rough
  •  Weak as a kitten
  •  Houston, we have a problem. (Apollo 13)
  •  They lived happily ever after
  •  In the nick of time
  •  What goes around comes around
  •  My father always says that it’s another day, another dollar.
  •  Luke, I am your father. (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back)
  •  If you hide the toy it will be out of sight, out of mind.
  •  Head over heels in love
  •  Read between the lines
  •  Without a care in the world
  •  I’ll be back. (The Terminator)
  •  I’d ask what’s wrong, but I don’t want to open that can of worms.
  •  When I asked about the next step, my teacher said that we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
  •  Haste makes waste
  •  Don’t cry over spilled milk
  •  He’s so unmotivated that he’s just sitting like a bump on a log.
  •  In a faraway land
  •  Heart-stopping fear
  •  All for one, and one for all
  •  Lost track of time
  •  Just keep swimming. (Finding Nemo)

What are other literary techniques and devices?

There are many different grammatical and literary techniques and devices that you might see when you are reading poetry or prose. Knowing these devices is very important because they are always used in writing or speech for some purpose. Knowing these devices can help readers and listeners understand the speaker or author’s deeper meaning and why they are using such a device. Take a look at the below list of literary devices from Reedsy and see how many you know! Then try researching ones that are unfamiliar to you. 

  •  Dramatic irony
  •  Alliteration
  •  Zoomorphism
  •  Irony
  •  Cumulative sentence
  •  Oxymoron
  •  Foreshadowing
  •  Metonymy
  •  Chiasmus
  •  Hypophora
  •  Tragicomedy
  •  Frame story
  •  Aphorism
  •  Allusion
  •  Allegory
  •  Anthropomorphism
  •  Synecdoche
  •  Tmesis
  •  Juxtaposition
  •  Litotes
  •  Paradox
  •  Anastrophe
  •  Tone
  •  Anaphora
  •  Polysyndeton
  •  Satire
  •  Euphemism
  •  Personification
  •  Imagery
  •  Soliloquy
  •  Simile
  •  Symbolism
  •  In Medias Res
  •  Point of view
  •  Flashback
  •  Motif
  •  Anachronism
  •  Malapropism
  •  Onomatopoeia
  •  Hyperbole
  •  Isocolon
  •  Exposition
  •  Repetition
  •  Tautology
  •  Archetype

Overall, the word cliché means an overused or trite phrase. 


  1. 45+ Literary Devices and Terms Every Writer Should Know | Reedsy 
  2. 50 Cliches | Your Dictionary 
  3. Cliché – Examples and Definition of Cliché as a writing device | Literary Devices