Cover image for The Facts on File dictionary of clichés
The Facts on File dictionary of clichés
Ammer, Christine.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Checkmark Books, [2001]

Physical Description:
viii, 488 pages ; 23 cm.
General Note:
Rev. ed. of: Have a nice day--no problem! c1992.

Includes index.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PE1689 .A48 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



Whether cliches make you happy as a clam or set your teeth on edge, it goes without saying that our language would be pretty dull without them. With more than 3,500 entries, The Facts On File Dictionary of Cliches is the largest, most comprehensive, and entertaining reference of its kind. This edition contains more than 500 new entries from basket case to where's the beef? Fully indexed and cross-referenced, this is an essential resource for students, writers, and anyone seeking a gift of gab. Book jacket.

Author Notes

Christine Ammer is the author of more than two dozen popular reference books on subjects ranging from classical music to women's health. For the past 15 years she has concentrated on language, especially the sources of colloquial expressions. She also writes a column on terms from military history for Military History Quarterly. She lives in Lexington, Massachusetts

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Lexicographer Ammer (American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms) here offers a revised edition of her Have a Nice Day No Problem: A Dictionary of Cliches (LJ 1/92). The update, which includes about 500 more entries, offers the meanings and origins of some 3500 expressions along with sources, histories of usage over time, and levels of use today. The volume includes such recent additions as "get a life," "been there, done that," and "push the envelope" as well as old favorites like the recently resurrected "united we stand," which the author traces back to Chaucer. The index is helpful in locating entries for expressions subsumed under similar sayings, and cross references are found in the text as well. While several resources on cliches are currently available (e.g., Nigel Rees's Cassell's Dictionary of Cliches, LJ 5/15/97), this one stands apart for the large number of citations. Given the speed with which language develops, newer publications of this sort are always welcome. Recommended for academic and public libraries. Denise J. Stankovics, Rockville P.L., Vernon, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Like the 1999 edition (Have a Nice Day--No Problem!), this edition identifies some 3,500 of the most commonly used cliches. Listed alphabetically, each entry provides a definition, a description of origin, and an illustration of usage. The index is detailed and necessary, since the first word of a cliche is often not the headword in the principal list (e.g., "to make a clean breast of something" is entered under "make a clean breast of something, to"). Cross-references are provided in both the principal list and the index and point to like cliches (e.g., "storm in a cream bowl/hand wash basin" has a see reference to "tempest in [a teapot]"). For expressions not yet cliches, Elizabeth McLaren Kirkpatrick's Cliches: Over 1500 Phrases Explored and Explained (1997), which offers still-evolving terms/phrases such as "over the moon" and "we must have lunch sometime" should be consulted. Doris Craig's Catch Phrases, Cliches and Idioms (1990) helps find a phrase from only a keyword and provides information to distinguish like phrases from one another--"to set one's heart on" versus "to set one's sights on." For cliches distinctly British, consider Nigel Rees's Cassell Dictionary of Cliches (1996). For concise definitions and illustrations of American cliches, Arthur H. Bell's A Pocket Guide to Cliches (1999) is useful, although it has neither index nor initial usage information. Scholarly works on cliches include Eric Partridge's Dictionary of Cliches (5th ed., 1978) and F.G. Cassidy's Dictionary of American Regional English (1985- ). Recommended for public and academic collections. M. S. Lary North Georgia College & State University



While dictionaries define cliches as trite phrases or expressions that convey popular or common ideas, these words and phrases offer interesting insights into changes in culture, language, and history. Designed for students, language lovers, writers, and browsers alike, The Facts On File Dictionary of Cliches is the most comprehensive reference available, offering explanations and information on the meanings and origins of more than 3,000 cliches and common expressions. Drawing from a wide variety of sources, including the Bible, Shakespeare, and other works of literature, each entry details the meaning of the cliche or expression, its source, early uses, and the history of the phrase over time. The cliches level of use in contemporary English is also noted. Entries include: Been there, done that Best/worst-case scenario Cast/written in stone Couch potato Get a life In your face. Excerpted from The Facts on File Dictionary of Cliches: Meanings and Origins of More Than 3,500 Terms and Expressions by Christine Ammer All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Author's Notep. vii
Entries A-Zp. 1
Indexp. 455