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Books  >   Reference : Dictionaries and Thesauruses : English (All) : 

Barron's a Pocket Guide to Cliches: "Hit the Road" (Barron's Pocket Guides)

Bell, Arthur

Barron's Educational Series
Published:February 1, 1999

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This is an entertaining little volume, and oddly addictive to folks who love a good, tired turn of phrase. Open to the M's, for instance, and you'll find "mad as a hatter," which is significantly different from "mad as a hornet," plus a variety of "make" phrases, including "make a clean breast," "make a killing," "make a long story short," "make a monkey out of," and "make hay while the sun shines," as well as "make one tick," "make one's mark," and the simple yet evocative "make waves." Fun as it is, however, to read through the well-worn bromides and homilies, one might wonder about the Pocket Guide's practical applications.

For the foreign-born student of English, the applications are clear. These are the phrases that drive students crazy, the ones that can't be looked up in a standard dictionary and whose meanings can't be intuited by looking up each word and piecing it all together. Try deciphering "coin a phrase" or "dressed to the nines" if English isn't your first tongue. It's also handy for native speakers for understanding the clichés of other generations and regions. And it's especially worthwhile for writers learning to recognize the trite chestnuts they might want to avoid. When a phrase is so tried and true that it flows from your pen as easy as 1, 2, 3, you can look it up in the Pocket Guide and see if perhaps you might want to find a more original way to express yourself. --Stephanie Gold

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