The 200 Worst Clichés Polluting Today’s Discourse

Photo of Michael Musto by Andrew Werner.

BY MICHAEL MUSTO | I’m not being alarmist when I tell you that an overabundance of clichés is destroying our culture and if we don’t stop it, we’re all going to become avocado toast. I implore you all to stop parroting something just because you saw it on Twitter. Don’t echo a phrase just because you heard someone say it in a TikTok video. Be original! For starters, kindly stay away from the following 200 worst clichés of all—including not just words, but activities too. And I even happen to like some of these words and actions; It’s just that they have become as wildly overused as the expression “wildly overused.” Here goes:

Abortion tourism

Active aggressor

Ahead of my skis

“Almost” is doing a lot of work here.


An armed society is a polite society.

Appreciated x 10

Aspirational ask

Bad take

Because of course.

Bedrock freedoms

Be the change.

Biden crime family

Big d*ck energy/Small d*ck energy

Biological man (meant to disparage trans women)

Boner garage

Both things can be true.

But it gets even worse…

Captain Obvious

Chaos agent

Checks notes

Chef’s kiss

Chess vs. checkers


Civil War! (Said by people who have no idea that they lost the last one)

Clown (used as a putdown. Leave clowns alone!)

Cookie licker/elbow licker/window licker


The court of public opinion

Cratering support

Cultural barometer

Cultural wedge issue


Doesn’t pass the smell test.

Doing the lord’s work


Dusty (meaning ugly or old)

Elites (usually said derisively by Republicans who went to Harvard, thanks to daddy)

Every accusation is a confession.



Factually false

Fani Willis [or whoever] didn’t come here to play!


Follow your bliss.

For the win!

Fuck around, find out. (Also: We’re entering the “finding out” phase.)

A functioning democracy


Gateway drug

Gin up his base


Go woke, go broke.

Good on you!


Grievance farmers


Gutter politics

Hard solid


Have a blessed day. (i.e., Fuck off!)

Hijacked the conversation

Hot take

If you only watch one video all day, let it be this one.

I just snort-laughed.

Illegal (used to signify things that are not only perfectly legal, but sensible too. As in “Mike Pence’s illegal certification of the election”)

I’ll jump off that bridge when I get to it.

I’ll see myself out.

I’ll take “Things That Never Happened” for $200, Alex.

I’m in!

I’ma pass on that.

I’m old enough to remember when…


I never thought leopards would eat MY face.

IYKYK (“If you know, you know.”)

Just asking questions

Kafkaesque nightmare

Keep up.

Ketchup on the wall

Knives in a gun fight

Lawyer up

Liberty, or freedom (always really meaning “MY liberty at the expense of yours”)

Lock step

Make no mistake about it.


Manufactured talking point


Mass shootings are the price we pay for freedom.


Morally bankrupt

More of this, please.

Nanny state

Nepo baby

A new generation

Not all heroes wear capes.

Not the obituary I wanted to read today.

Now do…

(For example, if you post something about Trump’s corruption, some idiot will inevitably reply, “Now do Hunter Biden.”)

Nuclear warming

Of all the things that didn’t happen, this didn’t happen the most.

Open borders

Orwellian nightmare

Palace intrigue

Participation trophy

Perfect phone call

Pick a lane.

Pictures or it didn’t happen.

Play silly games, win silly prizes.

Pound sand

Prebuttal (as in a pre-emptive, self-glorifying gripe you post before your failed TV appearance airs)


Propaganda mule

Pudding fingers

Punching down

Quiet quitting

Raise your hand if….

Ramping up


Real-world consequences

Redneck Riviera


Revenge porn

Ride or die

Right-winger (when they really mean “extremist” or “domestic terrorist”)

Rinse. Repeat.

Rock star

Ronny Jackson was not drinking.

Say it loud for the people in the back.

Second amendment rights

She won’t sleep with you.

Shut up!

Sit the fuck down.

So much winning.

Sounding the death knell for…

Sounds like a plan.

Speak soon.


Storyteller (instead of filmmaker)

Strategic silence

Tactical error

Taking the temperature of the room

That being said…

That’s not how this works.

The grift is real.

The hypocrisy is a feature, not a bug. (Also: Cruelty is the point.)

The “law and order party”!

The price of gas…blah, blah blah.

There is no bottom.

There’s no hate quite like Christian love.

This is how it’s done.

This is not the “gotcha” you think it is.

This one hurts.

This you?

(Some idiot posts something like “The DOJ should not be weaponizing the government,” only to have a liberal commentator dig up an old “Lock her up!” tweet of the idiot’s and repost it, saying, “This you?” Actually, I happen to love this particular cliché, so let’s keep doing it.)


Torches (to mean mocks or brings down)

A true force of nature

Try that in a small town.

Two-tiered justice system (It definitely exists, just not in the way the users of this phrase claim.)


Unconstitutional (See “illegal,” above.)

Underrated tweet



Vaccine injured

Wait till the end. (And then, of course, nothing really happens. Just like in life.)

Weak sauce

Wedge politics

We have a winner.

Well played.

What about Jared Kushner getting two billion from the Saudis? (I totally agree, but this whataboutism becomes tiresome when it’s trotted out as the answer to absolutely everything. As in, “Ashton Kutcher shouldn’t have written that letter defending Danny Masterson.” “Yeah, but what about Jared Kushner getting two billion from the Saudis?”)

What could go wrong?

“When someone shows you who they are….,” blah blah blah—Maya Angelou

Where is Pete Buttigieg? (Or “Where is Hunter?” –or fill in any name of someone who has nothing to do with whatever’s being discussed.)

Where’s the lie?

Window of opportunity

Woke mind virus


Words fail.

Working harder than Kari Lake’s filter

You ate that!

You don’t negotiate with terrorists.

You know who WASN’T indicted today? Hillary Clinton.


As for general societal trends, I hereby decree that the following ones are worn out and must cease immediately because they’re—everybody now—wildly overused:

Comparing aging stars to each other, always women. (“She should be aging more like that other one.”)

Dumb abbreviations. Something like “FWIW” takes the reader five minutes to figure out, when you could have just said “for what it’s worth.” The above-mentioned “IYKYK” is another irritating example. You know?

Referencing “the Holocaust” at the drop of a hat, in a way that is incredibly trivializing and dumb. (As in, “The price of vegan ice cream went up. It’s like the Holocaust!”)

Neck tattoos

Pandering for likes with obvious statements. (“If you think Donald Trump is a pos, then like and retweet this tweet!”)

Parents torturing their kids with that light-up toy cactus that gyrates and emulates the baby’s sounds, just to get a video of the baby screaming and crying about it.

Posting your Wordle scores

Commenting on a Facebook-posted review of mine, “Did you like it?” CLICK ON THE DAMNED LINK!

Posting a photo of yourself holding a Playbill, with a brilliant caption like “About to see Lion King! Excited!” WHO THE F**K CARES?

Putting a plug for something you’re involved in as a comment on a thread that has absolutely zero to do with it! Thread: “Here’s a photo of me and Musto having lunch. What fun.” Comment: “Make Me Famous is screening this Sunday at 3:15 PM at New Plaza Cinemas.”

Reposting an outrageous statement from a famous person—and expressing utter horror over it–without bothering to notice that it’s from a parody account.

Continuing to leave lame comment after lame comment on the same person’s posts every single day, even though the person has never once “liked” the comments or replied to them. Get the hint!!!

Continuing to use that ancient Mariah Carey gif (“I don’t know her”). Really? Will you next be bringing back “Leave Britney alone!”?


Photo of Michael Musto by Andrew Werner.


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 appears on this website as well as and, 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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