Another week flown by. How does that happen? Each week I realize it is time for more clichés. Thank goodness there is an endless supply, as our culture just loves to pick a phrase and use it ad nauseam, until one day it just isn’t cool anymore. Who decides that anyway? Why can’t I say “talk to the hand” anymore? Maybe today we will do some clichés from more recent pop culture? Starting with, of course:
talk to the hand (cuz the face ain’t listening): meaning, don’t bother, I will not be listening to you. And don’t forget the gesture of raising the hand to block the information. An American phrase, it was first heard in the late 90s. Media is much to blame for the spread of this cliché, as shown below:
A contemporary favourite, if you don’t like what somebody is saying (a traffic warden, say) is to turn a palm forward and yell: ‘Talk to the hand.
–from Oliver Bennett in The Times, May 1998. In this he recounts a trip to San Francisco and explains some local idioms*
so sue me: a challenge to escalate a dispute. Originally used as a reply when someone was doing something slightly illegal and was called on it, knowing that other person would not want to actually go to the police. It became common to use whenever someone disagreed with you. It may have come from a Guys and Dolls song, Sue Me, Sue Me:
Detroit: Serve a paper and sue me, sue me, what can you do me? I love you. Give a holler and hate me, hate me, go ahead, hate me. I love you.
Adelaide: When you wind up in jail, don’t come to me to bail you out.
Detroit: Allright already, so call a policeman. Allright already, it’s true, you knew, so sue me, sue me, what can you do me. I love you.
In the late 90s it became popular, and by 2004 it had spread across the English-speaking world. It was even so popular that a hot chile sauce was called “So Sue Me,” and a board game was marketed by New York Game Factory, called “So $ue Me.”
get over it: the event is in the past, so move forward and don’t let it affect you anymore. Who hasn’t been told this? Or used it?! This one has been around much longer than you might have thought, it was used as early in as 1839 in print:
Such was his state, that no one supposed he ever could get over it.
Thirtysix Years of Seafaring Life
In the early 90s, it was used by media about differing political situations. It caught fire with the public and became one of the most over-used phrases we know today.
sound bite: a short, pithy phrase meant to be catchy and used for media repetition. These phrases gained popularity during the 1980s in American media circles (or circuses!).
Remember that any editor watching needs a concise, 30-second sound bite. Anything more than that, you’re losing them.
Washington Post, June 1980
bad hair day: literally a day when your hair is unmanageable but also meaning a day where nothing else goes right either. There is a possibility that the phrase originated in California, on the beaches. However, many of us remember it from the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, where Kristy Swanson told a vampiric Paul Ruebens that he “was obviously having a bad hair day.” The popularity of the movie brought the phrase into the forefront of the 90s.
and, finally, the bane of any retail worker–
the customer is always right: a policy where stores/companies put the needs of the customer before their own. Made popular by Marshall Fields stores, it encouraged people to shop where they were considered special. While this phrase was introduced in the early 1900s, it came into its own in the early 2000s. In the fight for customers, many companies inculcated their staff with the disposition to behave as if the customer was right, even when they weren’t.* It was also a favorite phrase hauled out by customers when denied by retail workers.