The 300 Worst Clichés in Modern Speech: Unlearn Them Now!

Michael Musto cries to the wilderness. Will you heed his call to stop using tired words and phrases? | Photo by Andrew Werner

BY MICHAEL MUSTO

There’s nothing more tired than a cliché, and if “tired” happens to be a cliche itself, then my bad—another cliché! But those are nowhere near as irritating as “amazing,” “awesome,” “icon,” “legend,” “artist,” “edgy,” “Not a problem,” and “It is what it is.” Cliches are easy to lean on because they readily spring to mind for every situation they’re related to, which is why smart people are going to have to amp up the war against them and look for more inventive ways to express themselves.

Social networks have helped cliches spread faster than ever, because once one person comes up with a zingy turn of phrase, others adapt it like wildfire and it becomes part of the lexicon. Sorry, again—“like wildfire” is a cliché. You can see how hard this is.

Anyway, here in alphabetical order are my recommendations for the 300 cliches that are the most offensive to my eyes and ears right now. If we all agree to avoid them like the plague—whoops—maybe they will grow out of fashion and then we can use them again! OK, boo? And just to be non-cliched, I’ll throw in a few extra ones.

Here Goes:

An abundance of caution

Access journalism

Accountability

Adjacent

Adjustment

Adulting

Aesthetic

Af (As in “Ugly af”)

Algorithms

Amirite

Amplifying

Anecdotal

Appropriation

Archival

Artisanal

Asking for a friend

At the end of the day

Baby steps

Bad take

Batshit

Bipartisan

Blessed

Blowing up big

Body positivity

BOOM!

Bothsiderism

Brand

Breaking: Water is wet!

Breakout star

Brick and mortar

Bucket list

Butthurt

Bwahahaha

Bye, Felicia.

California sober

Cancel culture (Said without irony by people who tried to cancel millions of votes and later tried to cancel Delta, Coca Cola, and baseball)

Captain Obvious

Casted (As in, “She was casted in a movie.”)

The CDC says that fully vaccinated people can…

Challenging

Checks notes

Circling back

Clap back

Classic

Clickbait

Closure

Coastal elites

Collaboration

Comfortable in my own skin

Comic gold

Comorbidities

Concerning (As in, “That’s very concerning.”)

Constitutional rights (Usually said by those who’ve never glanced at it)

Contextualize

Cosplay

Covidiot

Craft

Cray-cray

Creative energy

Creatives

Crime (As in, “Don’t crime with Matt Gaetz.” Or any noun used as a verb.)

Crowdsource

Crushed it

Cry more

Cultivating, fostering, nurturing

Curated

Cuteness overload

Deal breaker

Death drop

Deconstructing

Delete your account.

Dial it down a notch.

Dialogue (As in, “Opens up a dialogue”)

Discourse

Disenfranchise

Disengage

Disinformation/Misinformation (How about just “lies”?)

Distraction

DIY

Dog whistle

Don’t give them oxygen

Double down

Douchebaggery

Drag time

Dragged

Draining the swamp (Usually said by the swamp itself)

Duh

Dumpster fire

Elevated

Empowerment

Enjoy your day.

Environmental footprint

Epic fail

Essential

Explain it to me like I’m in third grade.

Eye roll

Facts

False equivalence

Family

Fan base

Floating an idea

Flying under the radar

FTW (for the win)

Fundamentally

FWIW (for what it’s worth)

Game changer

Gaslighting

Gay card

Gender reveal

Get (As in, “He’s a good get.”)

Ghosted

Gifted (As in, “I was gifted an air fryer.”) Even worse than “criming”.)

Glass ceiling

Goal posts

Gone viral

Good times

Groundbreaking

Hard pass

Healing

Heavy lifting

Hell to the no

He’s a ginger.

Heteronormative

Hill to die on

Hive mind

Hold my beer.

Horse to ride on

A hot second

How it started/how it’s going

Humble brag

I can’t even.

I can’t unsee that.

I can’t wrap my mind around that.

Identity politics

Ideology

I did Nazi that coming.

I didn’t expect that on my Bingo card for 2021.

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but…

I feel very attacked.

I feel seen.

I have no fucks left.

Illustrative

I’m dead.

I’m here for this.

IMHO

Immersive

Impactful

I’m sorry if my actions were perceived that way.

I’m Team… (As in,“I’m Team Britney.”)

Intellectual property

Intersectionality

Intrinsically

I see what you did there.

I see you.

Is that still a thing?

It’s in my DNA

It’s not the way I roll.

I’ve been schooled.

Journey

Just my opinion

Karen

Killed it, or slayed

Landscape

Laser-focused

Let that sink in.

Let’s do this, bitches.

Level the playing field

Lewk

Life-affirming

Living the dream

Living my authentic life

Living rent-free in someone’s head

Mandate

Manscape

Mansplaining

Mic drop

Microagression

Monetizing

Moral compass

Moral high ground

Muddied the waters

My authentic self

My queen

My team

Nailed it

Narrative

Narrow path to victory

Next level

No biggie

No lies detected.

No words

Noise

Normalize

Nothingburger

Not to be this person, but…

Nothing to see here. Keep moving.

OBSESSED

Off the hook

Off the rails

OG (Original Gangsta)

OMG

On fire

On steroids

On the food chain

Oof

Optics

Organically

Outreach

Overshare

Own it

Owning the libs

Palpable

Past expiration date

Patently clear

Patriot (Usually referring to someone who waves a Confederate flag and tried to overthrow democracy. “Hatriot” is more like it.)

Paywall

Perfect (or purrfect)

Performative

Playbook

Polarizing

Political theater

Power ballad

Power grab

Primaried

Privilege

Problematic

Projecting

Pumped

Pushing the needle forward

Rabbit hole

Radical liberal

Raise your hand if you think…

Raises the bar

Randos

Red flag

Relatable

Represent

Repurposed

Resolution

Resonate

Rest in power (It had meaning, but has been scooped up to refer to virtually anyone who died)

Resting bitch face

Reverberate

Rewilding

The right side of history

RINOS

Risk reducing

Rocked a look

Romcom

Rounding the corner, or turning the corner

Said the quiet part out loud

Scorched earth policy

Sea change

Searing indictment

Self-care (It used to just be called “taking a nap”)

Self-owned

Sending love and light

Severely underrated tweet

Shaming

Sheep, or sheeple

Shitshow

Shoutout

Sickening (Used by drag queens to mean NOT sickening)

Sit down.

Situational

Skunk at the picnic

Sleep with the angels

Slipped through the cracks

Smell test

Spill the tea

Spirit animal

Stan

Stay-cation

 

Stay in your lane.

 

Stir the sh*t

Storied career

Sustainable

A tapestry

Taxable event

TBT (Throw Back Thursday), Caturday, etc.

Telling your truth

Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.

That’s it. That’s the tweet.

That’s not a good look on you.

There, fixed it for you.

There’s a lot to unpack here.

Think outside the box.

Thirsty, or thirst trap

THIS^

This is EVERYTHING.

This is not who I am.

This tweet didn’t age well.

Thoughts and prayers

Three-peat

Threw them under the bus

Throuple

Tin foil hat

Tonally

Too soon?

Torture porn

Totes

Toxic masculinity

Trajectory

Transactional

Transparency

Trending

Triggering

Trolling

Truth

Try harder.

Turnt

Twinning

Ugh

Um,

The universe

Up your game

Virtue signaling

Visceral

Walk back

Weaponize

We’re all in this together.

We’ve got the receipts on that.

Whataboutism

Wheelhouse

Woke

Word salad

Workshop it

The world’s smallest violin

Wrong answers only.

You do you.

You know the drill.

You win the Internet today.

The zeitgeist

 

Michael Musto is a columnist, pop cultural and political pundit, NYC nightlife chronicler, author, and the go-to gossip responsible for the long-running (1984-2013) Village Voice column, “La Dolce Musto.” His work regularly appears on this website as well as Queerty.com and thedailybeast.com, and he is writing for the new Village Voice, a quarterly which made its debut in April. Follow Musto on Twitter, via @mikeymusto.

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