Cut Out These Clichés, Overused Expressions & Tired Words

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

Is your communication full of clichés and tired old expressions? In public speaking, frequently using phrases like "you know" and "see what I mean" can be just as distracting to your listeners as frequently using filler words like "um" and "ah." These tired and overused words and phrases dilute the power of the message you are trying to convey.

According to Jeremy Butterfield's book, Damp Squid: The English Language Laid Bare (affiliate link), here are the ten most overused expressions, along with my comments:

1. "At the end of the day" (one of those phrases which has been overused and is now essentially meaningless)

2. "Fairly unique" (impossible – it's either unique or it's not)

3. "I personally think" (you don't need "personally" because "I" already conveys who is doing the thinking)

4. "At this moment in time" (replace with "now" – using fewer words is usually better)

5. "With all due respect" (eliminate, since it's usually followed by a statement that is anything but respectful)

6. "Absolutely" (I overuse this phrase and am working on reducing how many times I start my sentences with it, especially when responding to a question)

7. "It's a nightmare" (usually this phrase is an exaggeration – avoid it unless the seriousness of the situation truly warrants it)

8. "Shouldn't of" (this is my personal pet peeve and I hear and see it everywhere - the correct phrase should be "shouldn't have")

9. "24/7" (at one time, this may have been an interesting, unique phrase, but it has become so overused as to render it tired and clichéd)

10. "It's not rocket science" (another popular variation is "it's not brain surgery" – reduce usage of these phrases because obviously, very little is rocket science or brain surgery)

What is your personal top ten list of overused phrases? Once you've identified them, replace them in your public speaking with more powerful and evocative words that will help you convey your message clearly and memorably.

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