What does 'cliché' mean?

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What is a cliché and why should it be avoided in academic writing?

A cliché is a fixed phrase, saying or idiom people use so often that it’s no longer interesting or original. Here are some examples for you:

ALL IN DUE TIME
things will be done at the appropriate time

  • Sorry, I can’t deal with this right now. All in due time.

 
THE TIME OF MY LIFE
a period of exceptional joy in one’s life

  • I was staying in Colombia for six months when I was eighteen. I had the time of my life.

 
HAVE NERVES OF STEEL
be very brave

  • You need to have nerves of steel if you want to teach teenagers.

 
CAN’T SEE THE WOOD FOR THE TREES
unable to see the bigger picture

  • I’ve been working on this project for so long, I’m afraid I can’t see the wood from the trees anymore. I need to step back and look at the problem from a new perspective.

 
Clichés are obviously very common, and this is exactly why they should be avoided in academic writing. They’re boring. You will make a better impression on your readers if you come up with original expressions to convey your message.

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