Tired phrases we should put to rest

Here’s a ‘moment of truth’: This ‘low-hanging fruit’ has become overripe—even rotten—and should be left ‘outside the box.’ ‘Moving forward,’ that is.

The person who coined the phrase “thinking outside the box” deserves a medal of honor. The next person who uses it with me will get a punch in the nose. OK, I’m small and nonviolent. A dirty look.

A dirty, disgusted look, because I am so weary of hearing it. “Thinking outside the box” works because it’s a simple metaphor with a twist, transcending limits for freedom.

But it’s so overused that it now implies the writer has not had an original idea in years or is too lazy to think up a fresh term. Or he may have a romantic obsession with overused catchphrases. He’s probably still saying “paradigm shift.”

Of course “thinking outside the box” is not the only tired term that should be buried or at least wheeled out only for brief cameos.


Why can’t you just say you achieved a return or results? Why the alphabet soup?

Boot camp

I don’t like to be reminded of barking fitness trainers and screaming muscles. Besides, if someone can’t even come up with an original title, how can they claim to offer training that will make my brain sweat?

Low-hanging fruit

This metaphor was fine the first hundred times I heard it. Now it’s a low-hanging phrase for less-thinking people. Easy pickings for this list.

Moment of truth

What marketers call moments of truth are simply the many everyday decisions people make. Too dramatic for choosing a pizza or another experience that’s only one step above humdrum.

Moving forward

How about using the future tense instead of preceding the latest executive proclamation with this pretentious phrase? It’s not only overused, but can also be inaccurate if the future involves, as it so often does, staying in the same place or moving backward.


Although palpable can mean intense or obvious, this word came from medical science, like when the doctor says that tumor in your leg is palpable. The media love it, but it creeps me out.


I keep thinking they’re talking about healthy bread, but then they get started about detailed designs or plans or something, and I’m left disappointed and hungry.


Although relatively new, I can smell the potential for overuse. I also fret about how words like this twist meaningful language into robo-speak. Like when the flight attendant tells you to “de-plane.” So cold. Why not just say “introduce” or “get on board?”

What expressions would you like to snuff out?

Image via Flickr.


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