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The Penguin Book of Cliches (Penguin Reference Books) Paperback – 17 Apr 2000

3.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; First Edition edition (17 April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140514279
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140514278
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 662,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

It's hard to realise just how much of our language, both spoken and written, is taken up by clichés--until confronted with a book like this. It's only natural that this form of verbal shorthand is so ubiquitous; after all, people have been thinking and writing much the same thing since the Mesopotamians first put stylus to wet clay. Unless your name happens to be St. Paul, Shakespeare or Milton, whatever the emotion or concept you're seeking to convey to the listener or reader, the chances are that someone's already put it better than you can.

Clichés are so prevalent, in fact, that a comprehensive listing is probably impossible, but in The Penguin Dictionary of Clichés, Julia Cresswell gives it her best shot (pardon the, er, cliché). The 320-page dictionary is an alphabetical listing of more than 1,500 clichés in both British and American English, across a chronological range from 800 or so AD ("hither and yon") to the turn of the 21st century ("bad hair day"). Each cliché is accompanied by a note on meaning and origin, including citations of appearance in print.

Just as the joy of perusing the Oxford English Dictionary (a resource Creswell pays tribute to in her introduction) is in the citations, the fun of The Penguin Dictionary of Clichés comes from checking out when and how familiar clichés infiltrated English. How many of us know, for example, that "kicking against the pricks" dates back to the Authorised or "King James" version of the Bible (Acts 9:5), or that the phrase "lie back and think of England" actually appears in the diary of an Edwardian lady?

Compact, comprehensive, well-researched and written, The Penguin Dictionary of Clichés will be enjoyed by anyone interested in the evolution of the informal words and phrases that give the English language much of its colour and vigour. --C A Wills


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By A Customer on 6 Mar. 2001
Format: Paperback
From 'ace in the hole' to 'you always hurt the one you love'
Great for song titles.Alphabetical cross reference with examples in context.There are only 1500 cliches so dont expect to find everything
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Format: Paperback
Since time immemorial I'd been looking high and low for a reference to the term 'deep six'. I thought any book that answered my query kicked butt so I bought this. It didn't fail to impress. The author spends four pages or so convincing her readers that she can cut the mustard - and she succeeded.
How to read such a book to get a flavour of the style and content? Try a 'hypertext' route. Start at a random entry; continue reading until you come to a cross reference; jump to that reference. Serendipity rules! O.k. it's hard to avoid the cliché habit.
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Format: Paperback
I looked at this book and the first very common cliche that came to mind was 'leg pulling'. There was not a mention of it nor of any of its alternatives, so I put it back on the shelf and now wait to find another publication. Did I miss it?
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