Cliché Touché Part One

By Roberta Sarver


We all have heard the word “cliché.”  Did you know it originated in the French language?  When printing presses were used, the cast iron plate that reproduced words, phrases, or images was called a “stereotype.”  The noise it made sounded like “cliché,” or click, so this became printer’s jargon.  It came to mean a word or phrase that gets repeated often.


Although clichés probably started out as original, thought-provoking statements, their overuse has morphed into a way of speaking without engaging our brains.  Can you imagine impressing that potential employer at an interview by saying, “Hey Dude, what’s up? I want this job cause I wanna make it happen! I mean, let’s get with the program! I’m your man!”


Or, imagine the English teacher saying to her student, “Get off my back about the assignment. You’re gonna do it or die trying.”  That just doesn’t sound right.  It doesn’t fit with our impression of English teachers, and it was rude, crude, and socially unacceptable in that case. But I digress.


Although we all use clichés, what would happen if someone changed them?  Like this:


  • Actions speak louder when Mom is upset.
  • You can’t judge a book by your friend’s opinion of it.
  • You can’t please a picky person at Christmas.
  • Ignorance is thinking you can fool your parents about where you went last night.
  • The grass is always greener over the septic tank, according to Erma Bombeck.
  • There’s no time like yesterday, when it should have been done.
  • Don’t cry over top of your cereal because it’ll get soggy.
  • I was scared out of my socks.
  • What goes around sometimes gives you motion sickness.
  • It was the calm before her parents found out.
  • Laughter is what happens when your 12-year-old brother tries to shave for the first time.
  • She was head over heels in trouble when her husband discovered how much she spent for Christmas.
  • Time heals all blemishes on your face after that big date you anticipated.


Watch next week’s column for Cliché Touché part two.

Roberta Sarver is an author and songwriter who lives in central Missouri. Her humor columns appear in the Versailles Leader-Statesman and her original songs of worship have appeared on radio stations across the nation. She and her husband are the parents of seven children.

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