150 Clichés That are Killing the Language

Michael Musto calls out clichés, A-Z. | Photo by Andrew Werner


Largely thanks to social networks, words and phrases become clichés faster than they used to because everyone spots them, jumps on them, and thinks they‘re being oh so clever by parroting them on a daily basis. And they’re killing the language! Oh, and by “killing” it, I don’t mean in the clichéd way that means “They’re doing a great job.”

Anyway, I’ve been down this cliched road before, but there are so many new overworked phrases to kvetch about. They’re killing me! Here goes:

Agency (over my body)

Aging hipster

And no, that’s not a typo.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Armpit farters

Battle lines have been drawn.

Beating your face

Because of course he did.

The Bechdel Test

BFD  (Big fucking deal)

Big Pharma

Bitter custody battle

Bitter party of one

Black eye (to signify a public figure receiving a setback)


A blot on the landscape

Boots on the ground

The “both parties are the same” crowd is very quiet right now.


Bring to the table

Bully pulpit

Carry on.

Cognitive dissonance

Collaborative effort

Come and take it.

The conversation about…

Content producer

Cow eyes

“Cringe” as an adjective (as in, “That’s so cringe.”)

Dance like there’s nobody watching.

Dark Brandon

Deep dive

Don’t judge me.

Don’t waste time on people who don’t appreciate you. (So true! Drop them! Before they drop you first!)


Ducks in a row

Dystopian future

Elevates the culture

Executive privilege (Sorry, 45, but that doesn’t cover every conceivable action and coverup that might happen in the White House—or afterwards, either.)





A few fries short of a Happy Meal

Fuck that noise.


Gee, what could possibly go wrong?

Giving it 110%

Gray area

Ha! or haha

Haters gonna hate.

Have a blessed day.

He didn’t take his meds today.

Hello, how are you doing today? (The inevitable DM from a busty Russian bot)

He’s so old, his Social Security number is 3. (I’m guilty of using this one a lot, but it’s still cliched. Do as I say, not as I do—another cliché.)

Hijacked the conversation

I didn’t sign up for this.

I don’t know her.

I don’t share. I’m an only child.

If you could go back in time and tell your nine-year-old self something, what would it be?

If you don’t think [such and such] is happening, then you haven’t been paying attention.

I have an immune system.

I’ll adopt your baby.

I’ll wait.

I mean it when I say…

I’m funding $5200 to the first 7 people who message me.



In no uncertain terms

In real time

In this day and age/In today’s world

I stand with…

It could have been worse.

If you avoid using these words and phrases, you’ll be living your best… oh, forget it. | Image by CCNews

It’s a look.

It’s not rocket science.

It’s so Handmaid’s Tale.

I was today years old when I found out about…

Johnny Depp won his lawsuit, and my opinion on that is that Ginni Thomas tried to overturn the election.

The jokes write themselves.

Laid it all out

Late to the party


Living my best life

Loose cannon

Losing the plot

Low-hanging fruit

Marked safe from… [followed by some weak joke]

A master class in…

ME: [Some lame saying.]  ALSO ME: [Some other lame saying that contradicts the first one.]


Needle drop

Needs to be held accountable

None of this means a damn thing if Trump doesn’t pay for what he did…


On point



Paradigm shift

Partisan (see: politicized)

A personal financial pinata

Pillar of the community

Point person


Quiet quitting

A race to the bottom


Read the room (As in “She didn’t read the room”)

Red meat to voters



Run it up the flagpole

Scam likely

Settled law (which conservative Supreme Court appointees seem to think means “settled law that needs to be unsettled”)

Simple yet elegant

So and so’s day just got worse.

So I did a thing.

So this happened.

Socialism/Marxism/Communism (used by people who generally have no idea what any of those words mean)

Sorry for your loss.

Memorize these and it’s 8 down, 142 to go. | Image by CCNews


Stealing focus

The struggle is real.

Supply chain issues

Sure, Jan.



The takeaway is…

To be honest

True dat.

Truth to power

Unconventionally attractive

Unleash the dragon


Victory lap

Virtual real estate

Voice of reason

Wait for it.

Walk me through this.

We have to stop bringing knifes to a gunfight.

Well, smell you!

What could go wrong? (As in “Eight gays in a kayak. What could go wrong?”)

What is a woman? (Um, that’s easy. An adult who’s female.)


Witch trial (somehow only used when a true criminal is being investigated)

With all due respect

Woke police

You can’t fix stupid.

You got this.

You’ll only find love when you stop looking for it.

You’ve got to write your memoirs!

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, which made its debut in April of 2021. Follow Musto on Instagram, via @michaelmusto.


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