armed, arms race (also overstatement when used figuratively)

arsenal (also overstatement when used figuratively)

back to the drawing board

back to square one

battle (also overstatement when used figuratively)

bid farewell

blueprint for growth

bottom line

calls it quits

carnival atmosphere

changed his/her life forever

charred rubble (which someone is often sifting or combing through in search of clues)

choked with emotion


cloudless sky

concerned residents

cope/deal with grief "Counselors will be on hand to help students ...)

crisis proportions


densely wooded area


dire straits

(American) dream turns to nightmare

e-commerce, e-whatever

emotional roller coaster

epidemic proportions

every parent's (worst) nightmare


fighting for his/her political life

final good-byes

firestorm/storm of protest/controversy

fled on foot


ground zero


hammer out (an agreement, contract)

heated debate

hushed courtroom

If xyz has his way, ....

in the wake of (unless you're writing about boats)

In what has become ...

kick off (unless you're writing about football)

laid to rest


leafy suburb (and its cousin tree-lined streets)


makeshift memorial

manicured lawns

massive (not only a cliché, but often applied to things that have no mass at all)

media circus

mixed reviews

Mother Nature's wrath

Move over, xxx.


Olympic proportions

outpouring of support

packing xx-mph winds

Plans for xyz took a step toward reality ...

poster boy/girl/child

predawn darkness


rain fails to dampen (anything, but often spirits at a parade or graduation)

rushed to the hospital

send a message

sent shock waves

shallow grave

shocked and saddened/dismayed/appaled

showed no emotion

[decade]something (as adjective or noun)

sparked controversy

square off


step down (for resign)

step up (efforts)

storm-tossed (-ravaged, etc.)

struggling to make sense of (a tragedy)

sun-drenched (-dappled)

tense standoff

They are (he/she is) not alone.


'Tis the season

tree-lined streets (especially quiet ones)

war-torn (-ravaged, etc.)

Welcome to ...

What began as ... turned into...

What he/she/they didn't know was that ... (well, duh)

worst nightmare

More information

Also see


External link

Cliché Leads, compiled by Dick Thien, editor-in-residence, The Freedom Forum; via the American Copy Editors Society


More Cliches Than You Can Shake a Stick At, compiled by Mimi Burkhardt, via the American Copy Editors Society

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