150 Clichés That Are Destroying The Language

BY MICHAEL MUSTO | My earlier piece listing a batch of clichés that we desperately need to abolish (click here to read it) was a hit—but alas, it hasn’t put an end to cliches. In fact, there seem to be more of them than there are white people at a Republican interns meeting. Whoops, sorry, that analogy has become a cliché in itself. So let me do the cliched thing—a follow-up article—and tell you 150 more tired phrases that we should studiously aim to avoid. Here goes nothing:

The American experiment/The Democratic experiment

Amped up

And go.

As gay as Ikea on Super Bowl Sunday


Back to abnormal/The new abnormal

Big girl panties

Big pharm

Booger sugar (i.e., coke)


Bubble (As in, “He lives in a bubble.”)

Michael Musto gives a shout out (add that one to the list). | Photo by Andrew Werner

Bullshit detector

Carbon-based life forms

Cherry-picked from the Bible

Chosen family


Clutch your pearls

A “Come to Jesus” moment


Creating spaces

Crisis actors

Cross-genre (or hybrid genre)

“Do your own research on COVID!”

Doing the Lord’s work

Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.

Drama llama

Earned his angel wings

Emerging artists

End of TED Talk.


Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Everything happens for a reason.




Fierce bidding war

The first three things (or words) you see in this photo (or word jumble) reveal why you’re sad (or who you are, blah blah blah)

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

Food insecure (Ugh. Remember the good old days of just “poor and hungry”?)

Freak flag


Fur babies

G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time)

Go, Brandon.

Golden ticket

Government cheese




Haters gonna hate.

Have a seat./Take a seat.

The heart and soul of…

Here are 10 concerts. Pick the one I didn’t go to.

How it started…



I don’t want to be that person.

I have no time for this.

I have sweaters that are older than you.

I live for that.

I’ll bite.


I’m all out of fucks.

I’m gonna call bullshit on that.

I’m here for ALL of this.

In bed with…

In the moment


[So-and-so] is going to go through some things.

Issues (As in, “He’s got issues.”)

I trust my immune system.

It’s a gift.

I’ve got this.


Keepin’ it classy.

Keyboard warriors


Lawyered up

Leveling up

The library is closed.


Line in the sand

Literally (As in, “literally the tip of the iceberg.” That wouldn’t really be the case, unless you were talking about the Titanic.)

Low-hanging fruit

Lowering the boom


Mercury’s in retrograde.

A meringue of…

Meta (That’s too Mark Zuckerberg for words.)


Moving forward

MSM (Mainstream media)


Murder hornet

Navigate (as in “navigate that problem” or “navigate my journey”)


New chapter

No filter

Nose out of joint

Not my circus, not my monkeys.

On board with….

On brand

On the horns of a dilemma


Pando pounds

The patriarchy

Plot elements

Power dynamics



Referenced (As opposed to “mentioned”)

Retweet this if you think that… [followed by something super-obvious like, “Trump had something to do with January 6th.”]

Ruin a movie by adding “foreskin” to the title.


Scare quotes

Serving (as in “serving realness”)

She gave 1000%.

Shut your pie hole.

Slippery slope

SMH (Shaking my head)

Some people are losing the plot.


Speaking truth to power

Stem the tide

Stepping back/stepping down/stepping away

Stepping up to the plate

“Stop saying…. [such and such].” (No, you first.)

The struggle is real.

Tell me you’re old without telling me you’re old.

The temperature of the room


TFG (The former guy)

That being said


That ship has sailed.

That’s so Handmaid’s Tale.

There, I rewrote that for you.

Thought police/language police


Troll farm

The ugly cry

Upped my game/My A game


Warp speed

Watershed moment

We’re experiencing a higher volume of calls than usual.

We’re on the same page.

What’s something you can say during sex that you can also say during dinner? (Gee, I don’t know. Maybe, “Shut up”?)

What the actual fuck?

Whole Paycheck (to refer to Whole Foods)

The Wicked movie should star….  (Update: They have finally cast the film—with Ariana Grande as Glinda and Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba—so the cliché has now evolved to, “The Wicked movie should have starred…”)

Winter plans/Delta variant (with an allegedly hilarious image attached to each thing)


Your porn name is what you just ate followed by the street you grew up on (or some such ludicrous thing. Leave me alone, cliché mongers!)


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 Instagram, via musto184.

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