Back in November I posted my 7 Least Favorite Cliches, and it was received so well that I’ve decided to make it into a weekly feature.
Welcome to Cliche Thursday, where each week I’ll deconstruct 5 expressions that we’ve all become a little too familiar with. Here we go…
“We’ve got to give 110%” – As a math nerd, nothing frustrates me more than clichés that fly in the face of logic and numerical accuracy. Clearly no one can give more than 100% of themselves, because 100% stands for everything. Once you hit 100% there’s nothing more to give…unless you start giving away other people’s energy and effort.
The only way you’re giving 110% is if you give EVERYTHING plus you somehow rob me of 10% of my effort that I was planning on putting towards cutting the grass this afternoon. No wonder I’m stuck here on the couch without the will to move. I thought it was because I was lazy, but the truth is, it’s because your softball coach got you a little too fired up for today’s exhibition game.
Just remember, the next time you ask someone to give 110%, you’re asking them to rob from someone else’s soul.
“Heavens to Betsy!” – Not sure how this phrase turned an exclamation of surprise, but it’s an extremely morbid expression. Clearly the underlying assumption here is that Betsy resides in the dark underworld. Think about it. If Betsy was in heaven, then you’d be saying “Heavens to (someone who lives in heaven)!” which is kinda pointless. But if Betsy in sheol, suddenly your expression gains some weight.
Poor Betsy Murgatroyd. (only my “more experienced” readers will get that reference.)
“He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth” – And it’s a good thing his parents are rich because that spoon did some costly damage to mom’s birthing canal on the way out.
“As useless as a screen door in a submarine” – Would you rather drown in:
A) a sub filled with ocean water, sharks, electric eels, sea urchins, and dolphin poop.
B) a sub filled with ocean water and nothing else.
Hm. Maybe that screen door isn’t so useless after all.
“Too many irons in the fire” – Every time I hear this cliché I want to jump into a time machine and interview a blacksmith from the 1800s. Was having too many irons in the fire that big of an issue that it spawned its own expression? Because it seems to me that if you had too many irons in the fire, it shouldn’t be a problem. The irons are just sitting there in the fire staying really hot.
Now if you had too many hot irons lying on a pile of dry kindling, I could see how that would become an issue. Or if you had too many irons lying on the chest of your 91-year old grandfather, I could see how the weight would eventually crush his sternum and lungs. But I really don’t see how having too many irons in the fire would create any genuine problems. Without a time machine, we may never know.