Cliches: Over 1500 Phrases Explored and Explained

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9780312154943: Cliches: Over 1500 Phrases Explored and Explained
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Betty Kirkpatrick has complied and exhaustive dictionary--a must for writers, crossword puzzle buffs, and anyone who is intrigued by language.

Sample entries from Cliches

Let the cat out of the bag is an idiom cliche meaning to reveal a secret. In origin it refers allegedly to a fairground tick by which traders sold unwary buyers a cat in a bag, assuring them it was a pig. The buyers did not realize their mistake until they let the cat out of the back, by which time it was too late.

Bite the bullet is an idiom cliche meaning to steel oneself to accept something distressing. In origin it probably refers to the days before anesthesia, when soldiers wounded in battle were given a lead bullet to bite on to brace themselves against the pain of surgery.

Fly off the handle is an idiom cliche meaning to lose one's temper. Originally American, the expression has its origin in an ax or hammer, the handle of which becomes loosened and flies off after it has struck a blow.

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Review:

The cliché is " ... the bad guy of the English language. Furthermore it is the worst kind of bad guy--the bad guy that used to be a good guy before it suffered a fall from grace or, in the case of the cliché, a fall from freshness." Was this always so? Is originality of usage a classic value or a more recent one? In an exhaustive, 10-page introduction to Clichés: Over 1,500 Phrases Explored and Explained, lexicographer Betty Kirkpatrick presents a fascinating history of the classification of this linguistic category as well as of various aspects of language, illustrating its elasticity and ongoing evolution.

For the literal thinker, it may be satisfying to know that the word cliché comes from the French clicer, meaning "to stereotype" (a printing term), but a succinct and consensual definition? No can do. Clichés are, Kirkpatrick contends, "impossible to pigeonhole."

Designating such categories as quotations and misquotations, euphemistic clichés, catchphrases, vogue expressions, or buzzwords, Kirkpatrick has assembled 207 pages of commentary on the subject. For all of the wrath and ridicule expended on it, the cliché, to coin a phrase, is as old as the hills.

Look up as old as the hills in Betty Kirkpatrick's Clichés and you'll find the phrase, its history, and examples of its usage. You'll want to keep this entertaining dictionary in your reference library for when your dinner guest asks, "What is the shape of things to come?" You'll be able to provide two thought-provoking answers, the first of which will come from your copy of Clichés; the second may come from your tarot.

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Sample Entries from Cliches:

LET THE CAT OUT OF THE BAG is an idiom cliche meaning to reveal a secret. In origin it refers allegedly to a fairground trick by which traders sold unwary buyers a cat in a bag, assuring them it was a pig. The buyers did not realize their mistake until they let the cat out of the bag, by which time it was too late.

BITE THE BULLET is an idiom clich meaning to steel oneself to accept something distressing. In origin it probably refers to the days before anesthesia, when soldiers wounded in battle were given a lead bullet to bite on to brace themselves against the pain of surgery.

FLY OFF THE HANDLE is an idiom clich meaning to lose one's temper. Originally American, the expression has its origin in an ax or hammer, the handle of which becomes loosened and flies off after it has struck a blow.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780312198442: Cliches: Over 1500 Phrases Explored and Explained

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ISBN 10:  0312198442 ISBN 13:  9780312198442
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin, 1999
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9780747520306: Cliches: Over 1500 Familiar Phrases Explored and Explained

Blooms..., 1995
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