Hacking Away at Old Saws

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In an interview with NPR about his new book, It’s Been Said Before: A Guide to the Use and Abuse of Cliches, Orin Hargraves acknowledges the utility of well-worn shorthand even as he counsels against its use. Clichés work because their prepackaged meaning is immediately accessible, making them ideal tools for journalists trying to convey information quickly but counterproductive for the creation of fresh, resonant prose. Nobody seems to be arguing for outright banishment, but Hargraves does take pride in notes from readers who have reconsidered a tired turn of phrase on his suggestion.


Dinah Fay is a poet, copywriter, and social media maven living in Brooklyn. She is the co-host of the Brick City Speaks reading series in Newark, where she is pursuing an MFA in writing from Rutgers University. More from this author →