The Power of Clichés, Sayings, and Idioms

Every culture manages to make a strong imprint on whatever language it is that they use, and sharp copywriters will take advantage of this.  Leaving these tools behind because they feel so overused or inflexible is a big mistake; the ability to say so much with only a few words should be the goal of any writer, whether they are writing copy or not.  All copywriters should actively be looking for ways to add idioms and phrases to their skill set as well as learn how to write copy around those new acquisitions.

Building a Repertoire

The key to learning how to add new idioms and sayings to one’s repertoire is to read.  Read everything and anything, but especially content that is likely to be rich in expressions worth delving into.  The most concentrated sources will by books and/or sites dedicated to phrases, expressions, idioms, and even clichés.  There are books and sites that focus on Zen-phrases that might take longer for readers to understand, but such phrases do often allow a copywriter to lay out the explanation for them.  This explanation will link that phrase/idea to a product or service, and make the copy seem that much more ‘sharp’ or ‘on top of things.’

Remember that a cliché is not a bad thing in all cases, but it can be if it is overused.  To this end, it would be wise to avoid using the same phrase more than once in a given text.  Luckily, there are plenty of phrases that have similar meanings and thus avoiding duplication of phrases should not be a substantial challenge.

The Power of Idioms

Idioms are phrases that have a meaning which is not entirely clear based on the text itself.  Only knowledge of the idiom and/or cultural exposure renders an idiom understandable, and this is why idioms from other cultures often work so well for copywriters; they create a situation in which the explanation must be given and as previously mentioned, that builds trust and authority as well as a permanent link.  Guess which idiom is likely to be used at the water coolers of the readership tomorrow?

Do Not Force a Phrase

There may be times when a phrase or expression is perfect for a given text’s meaning or thrust, but is not actually perfect for the way that the copy has been executed.  In these cases, consider scrapping the text and re-writing a few times until a happy compromise has been found.  A happy compromise will get the point across without making the expression seem contrived or forced in any way, but will also not make that expression seem to be the centerpiece of a text.

Written by

Chad Weirick is a global traveler, ghostwriter, teacher, and father. His hobbies include reading, languages, mixed martial arts, photography, digital media, blogging, and spending time with his family.