Archive for December 2010

cliché: a trite phrase or expression; also: the idea expressed by it (M-W.com)

December 5, 2010

Cliches are the scourge of the word world.  After end-of-sentence prepositions, of course.  A cliche is an expression that has been so overused that not only is it rendered meaningless, but it infects the very ideas expressed in the sentences it lives within.

Maybe it’s all that cubicle-dwelling that business types do, but corporate America is particularly flooded with cliches.  It’s an epidemic of epic proportions.  Wait.  Scratch that.  It’s a the Swine Flu of business English.  “Epic” is a word so overused that it just doesn’t mean anything anymore.  So, please, find another word to abuse.

Epic: noting or pertaining to a long poetic composition, usually centered upon a hero, in which a series of great achievements or events is narrated in elevated style: Homer’s Iliad is an epic poem. (Dictionary.com).

Some other examples include: think outside the box; grow your business; skill set; bring to the table.  Here’s a sentence that, if uttered in my proximity, may cause my brain to explode:

You should hire me to grow your business; I’m a detail-oriented go-getter who brings to the table a unique skill set and can think outside the box.

Yikes.  That’s not good business English.  It’s so generic that it fails to communicate any sense whatsoever of who is saying it.  Similarly, using tired out words like “epic” actually detracts from the true wonder of whatever it is we’re calling epic in the first place.  I can tell you about a prank I pulled last night that was epic, but you probably wouldn’t think much of it because all of your Facebook friends had epic adventures this weekend.

Food for thought.