Thompson Rivers University

Keep Calm and Drop the Clichés

  Posted on: May 22, 2015

Clichés are phrases that either have a general meaning or have been used so frequently for so long that they have lost their original meaning.  It is best to avoid clichés, particularly in academic writing, for a number of reasons:

  • Emphasis in academic writing should be on original thought and clichés are the antithesis of originality.
  • Clichés are typically vague and can cause reader confusion.
  • Readers often skim past clichés and could miss something important in your document by mistake.
  • Clichés are also often steeped in cultural meaning and can therefore confuse people not native to the culture.


Below are some examples of common English language clichés:

When you do find yourself using a cliché, you should reword your sentence; this can often be done with only one or two words.  In some cases you can actually remove the cliché without changing the meaning of your sentence.  Both of these options will certainly help you stick to the word count your instructor has specified.

It is not easy to avoid clichés completely because many of them are so firmly embedded into our daily language. Having someone proofread your work to spot clichés that have “crept into” your work is quite useful and the tutors at the Writing Center will definitely help you with this.  To book an appointment visit: