The Penguin Book of Cliches

The Penguin Book of Cliches

4.22 (9 ratings by Goodreads)
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This dictionary investigates the wide range of cliches throughout the history of the English language. With over 1500 sourced cliches listed, both ancient an modern, this work looks at the more informal side of the English more

Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 128 x 192 x 18mm | 299.38g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 0140514279
  • 9780140514278
  • 1,954,713

Review Text

What is the difference between a cliche and an idiom? Defining a cliche is itself a difficult task, explains Cresswell in the introduction to this amusing and thought-provoking book: what might be an appropriate Shakespearean quotation to one speaker might be an irritating cliche to another. She offers a structured definition of her own: a cliche is 'an expression that does your thinking for you: an expression so well established in the language that you know exactly how it is going to end once someone has started saying it, and which conveys instant meaning without you having to work out anything for yourself'. She outlines the usefulness of this direct form of communication, and its dangers when in placed in the wrong hands. At first glance, the dictionary itself looks like the kind of book you'd be likely to consign to the Smallest Room. But when you start to read the descriptions, you are embarking on a fascinating etymological journey, discovering the histories of the word combinations which are so comfortingly familiar to us. Cresswell illuminates us on baffling sayings such as 'to take a rain check' which apparently comes from a baseball custom, in use by 1884, of issuing rain checks (or cheques) entitling you to a free game when rain stopped play at a match. Cliches old ('hither and thither' 725AD) and new ('the dog's bollocks' late 1990s), long-standing (we can thank Homer for 'birds of a feather') and short-lived (how long will 'girl power' be with us?) are all listed. So save this book to read in the Smallest Room and enjoy Cresswell's impressive scholarship, lightly applied: it's the kind of book you'll be wanting to dip into again and again (Kirkus UK)show more

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9 ratings
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