Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Just found this delightful compilation of cliches in one of the reviews of The Dictionary of Cliches. What's most interesting is how old many of these well-worn phrases are.

'Tom, Dick, and Harry' (1604) were 'fit as a fiddle' (1616), though Wally was 'dead as a doornail' (1350). No one thought about Wally 'in the heat of the battle' (1588) because it was 'do or die' (1809) since they all knew they 'bit off more than they could chew' (1878). Wally was as 'hard as nails' (1837), and had the 'bird's eye view' (18th century) perched, as he was, 'out on a limb' (1897). They agreed that Wally should have seen 'that snake in the grass' (13th century) or 'smelled a rat' (1550) when Sam 'cast the first stone' (Bible reference) toward him. However, Wally always expected a 'square deal' (1633) because 'a friend in need is a friend indeed' (1275), and he had known Sam since 'time immemorial' (1189). Of course, 'money is the root of all evil' (Timothy 6:10) and Sam was 'rotten to the core' (1718), so it should not be a surprise that he was also 'a cold hearted' (1606) 'eager beaver' (18th century) who 'shot {Wally} to hell' (1706) 'in cold blood' (1608). Tom, Dick, and Harry could 'go along for the ride' (1960) or 'explore every avenue' (1890) so they could 'divide the spoils' (Isaiah 12:25). They were, after all, living in 'a den of thieves (Matthew 21:13), and Wally was up there 'on cloud nine' (1950).

The paragraph was put together by Victoria Tarrani

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