Let’s Bring More Cliches to the Table

Some folks like shopping for antiques or shoes. I like shopping for cliches.

Down below is my latest updated collection.

As I explain to my students, they might not have written the phrases below yet, but I have read them too much, so they lose out.

Where do these come from? Others’ online lists, articles I’ve read (both from pros and unintentional students). And I present the updated list from time to time.

I tell my students that they, like the rest of us, have to rewrite these phrases when they pop up. Maybe we can update them into something new and fresh. Our readers deserve that better than anything stale and dry as these:

110 percent

a lot to learn
and [name] is no exception
archrival
at first glance
at the end of the day

backs against the wall
become the best they can be
become the man he is today
blazing (when used with “speed”)
blink of an eye
bodes well

brings to the table
brought their A-game

came to play
capped off a comeback
carried the load
cautiously optimistic
choice words
Christmas came early
closely watched
control their own destiny
cooler heads prevailed

the determination in their eyes
did not shy away from
double down

electrified the crowd
emerged victorious
(athlete’s name) era
eye-popping

familiar face
fat lady singing references (tacky and offensive anyway)
find their groove/rhythm
(like a) finely tuned machine
follow in [someone’s] footsteps
a force to be reckoned with
found their stride
from start to finish

generate offense
going forward
grizzled/seasoned veteran (how does one grizzle?)
growing pains
gut wrenching (seems like the gut is always getting wrenched)

had their eyes opened
hardware (for championships)
has a knack for
he has my back
high ceiling, high motor
high hopes
hit the nail on the head
hope filled the air
hotly contested

icing on the cake
iconic
in (someone’s) book
in large part
in their rear-view mirror

keep up the pace
keep your eye on

left a bitter taste in their mouth
light up the stat sheet
like to have that one back
locked and loaded

made a statement (unless someone is speaking)
marquee matchup
mass of contradictions
much to smile about
must-win

the new normal — thanks, COVID
(this was) no exception
no laughing matter
(someone is) not the only one who …
not your father’s [whatever]

offensive barrage
on a high note
on thin ice
one game at a time

play ball
plenty of blame to go around
plenty to be happy about
points on the board

ran out of time
reality check
rests on his shoulders
rise to the challenge
run through a brick wall

scraped together
sealed the deal
shaken to the core
shined on the court/field
sheepish grin
shore up
showdown (especially following “Top 10”)
shy away from
silence the doubters
sky’s the limit
slammed the door (used in game reports)
sparkplug
stand tall
started out of the gate
step up
storied
stout (defense, usually)

taken its toll
taking [whatever] by storm
tipping point
trials and tribulations
turned a blind eye

under their belts
unlikely hero
upside (usually modified by “tremendous”)

welcome with open arms
when asked about
with a grain of salt
the world we live in

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