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Chris Dunmire's Mixed-Up Cliche Game

Mixed-Up Cliches Game

Reaping what you sow, a stitch in time!

By Chris Dunmire, Wiser for Words

cliche n : a trite phrase or expression : trite adj : used so commonly that the novelty has worn off
— Merriam-Webster Dictionary

mixed-up cliche n : a re-engineered trite phrase or expression combining two or more common cliches to produce novelty, amusement, and creative thinking.
— Chris Dunmire

This isn't just another 'tired old cliche' of an activity. Nope, this creativity exercise — an amusing turn of phrase game — will force your brain to buzz while you combine two or three cliches into one new coherent or funny phrase. Think it's easier said than a ravishing beauty? Do not hesitate to play it by ear!

Mixed-Up Cliche Game History

My friend Patrick and I invented this brain-stimulating game together as co-workers at Motorola in the mid-1990s. Patrick was like a big brother to me and always wore a baseball cap so I called him "Hatrick." In turn, he called me "Funmire." We got along great.

Our cliche game materialized one day while we were sitting across from one another at our stations working and chatting in a mid-afternoon slump. Our bantering became witty and it was obvious that we both needed an outlet for our excess mind energy. We played with ideas until we hit on combining two or more common cliche's into one workable phrases that made some (often amusing) sense.

To add insult to injury . . . leave no stone unturned!

This momentous occasion . . . leaves much to be desired!

You too can enjoy the Mixed-Up Cliche Game by yourself or with others. It makes a great playful brain-bending activity for meetings, the classroom, workshops, and just for plain creative fun. Prompt your imagination and bust your boredom in the boardroom!

Turn of phrase . . . is an interesting turn of events!

To get you started, I've compiled a list of over 100 cliches and common phrases below. On a piece of paper, or out-loud with others in turn, combine two or more cliches into one new mixed-up phrase. Have fun with this and be creative!

Take it a step further by using your new phrases to construct a whole mixed-up cliche story. More ideas: Create artwork and poetry with your re-engineered phrases! Feel free to add and use other cliches and phrases not found on this list. This list is not exhaustive, but it was exhausting compiling it!

Herald forth . . . to infinity and beyond!

A long, long, long list of common cliches:

A
a bad scene
add insult to injury
agree to disagree
all things considered
all too soon
along these lines
ample opportunity
armed to the teeth
as a matter of fact
at a loss for words
at one fell swoop
avoid it like the plague
awaiting further orders

B
back at the ranch
back to the drawing board
bated breath
beginning of the end
before you know it
benefit of the doubt
best-laid plans
better late than never
better left unsaid
beyond the shadow of a doubt
bite the bullet
bitter end
bone of contention
bottom line
budding genius
burning question
busy as a bee
by leaps and bounds
by the same token

C
calm before the storm
call of the wild
casual encounter
chain reaction
charged with emotion
checkered past
cherished belief
circumstances beyond my control
clear as crystal
come full circle
contents noted
cool as a cucumber
curiously enough
cut a long story short
cut down in his prime

D
days are numbered
dead as a doornail
deafening crash
depths of despair
diamond in the rough
dig in your heels
do not hesitate to
drastic action
due consideration

E
each and every
easier said than done
eat, drink, and be merry
eminently successful
engage in conversation
epic struggle
even tenor
exception that proves the rule
existing conditions
express one's appreciation

F
fall on bad times
fall on deaf ears
far and wide
far be it from me
fateful day
fate worse than death
feel free to
feel vulnerable
festive occasion
few and far between
final analysis
finishing touches
fit as a fiddle
food for thought
fools rush in
foregone conclusion
foul play
from the sublime to the ridiculous

G
generation gap
give the green light to
go down the drain
goes without saying
good team player
grave concern
green with envy
grim reaper
grind to a halt

H
hands across the sea
happy pair
hastily summoned
have the privilege
heartfelt thanks
heart of the matter
heart's desire
heated argument
heave a sigh of relief
herculean efforts
hook, line, and sinker
hook or crook
hope for the future
hot pursuit
hunker down

I
ignorance is bliss
ill-fated
immeasurably superior
in close proximity
infinite capacity
innocent bystander
in no uncertain terms
in our midst
in reference to
in short supply
in the limelight
in the nick of time
in the same boat with
in the twinkling of an eye
in this day and age
into full swing
irony of fate
irreplaceable loss
it dawned on me

J
just in time

K
keep options open

L
labor of love
lashed out at
last analysis
last but not least
last-ditch effort
leaps and bounds
leave no stone unturned

L (continued)
leaves much to be desired
leave up in the air
lend a helping hand
let well enough alone
line of least resistance
little woman
lit up like a Christmas tree
live and let live
lock, stock, and barrel
long arm of the law
look before you leap

M
marked contrast
matter of life and death
mecca for travelers
method to his madness
milk of human kindness
miraculous escape
moment of truth
momentous occasion
monumental traffic jam
moot point
more than meets the eye
more the merrier
motley crew

N
narrow escape
nearest and dearest
needs no introduction
never a dull moment
never before in the history of
nipped in the bud
no sooner said than done

O
one and the same
ongoing dialogue
on more than one occasion
open secret
order out of chaos
other things being equal
outer directed
overwhelming odds
own worst enemy

P
pales in comparison
paralyzed with fright
paramount importance
pay the piper
peer group
pet peeve
pick and choose
pie in the sky
pinpoint the cause
pipe dream
place in the sun
play hardball
play it by ear
poor but honest
powder keg
powers that be
pros and cons
proud heritage
proud possessor
pull one's weight

Q
question everything
quiet your mind

R
rack and ruin
ravishing beauty
red-letter day
regrettable incident
reigns supreme
reliable source
remedy the situation
rest on laurels
right on
ripe old age
round of applause

S
sadder but wiser
saw the light of day
scathing sarcasm
sea of faces
seat of learning
second to none
select few
selling like hotcakes
shattering effect
shift into high gear
shot in the arm
sigh of relief
silence broken only by
silhouetted against the sky
simple life
skeleton in the closet
snug as a bug in the rug
social amenities
spectacular event
spirited debate
stick out like a sore thumb
stick to one's guns
straight and narrow path
structure one's day
such is life
superhuman effort
supreme sacrifice
sweat of his brow
sweeping changes
sweet sixteen

T
take the bull by the horns
telling effect
terror stricken
thanking you in advance
there's the rub
this day and age
those present
throw a monkey wrench
throw a party
throw caution to the wind
tie that binds
time of one's life
tongue in cheek
too funny for words
too numerous to mention
tough it out
tower of strength
trials and tribulations
trust implicitly

U
uncharted seas
unprecedented situation
untimely end
untiring efforts

V
vale of tears
vanish into thin air

W
watery grave
wax eloquent/poetic
weaker sex
wear and tear
whirlwind tour
wide open spaces
words fail to express
word to the wise
wrought havoc

© 2005, 2011 Chris Dunmire. All rights reserved.

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