Seth Godin, the maestro of idea generation, posted this musing this morning about using cliches to your advantage.
He starts with the wiki definition:
In printing, a cliché was a printing plate cast from movable type. This is also called a stereotype. When letters were set one at a time, it made sense to cast a phrase used repeatedly as a single slug of metal. “Cliché” came to mean such a ready-made phrase. The French word “cliché” comes from the sound made when the matrix is dropped into molten metal to make a printing plate.
To save time and money, then, printers took common phrases and re-used the type.
Along the way, they trained us to understand the image, the analogy, the story. Hear it often enough and you remember it. That training has a useful purpose….
The effective way to use a cliché is to point to it and then do precisely the opposite.