A hit list of words and phrases to beware

Ace in the hole: Arnold Palmer, anyone seen Arnold Palmer, hello, Arnold? Oh, there you are . . . in the hole!

Actually: Actually is a word not actually needed to actually make a point by the people who actually use the word. (George Wayne Shelor, My Clearwater)

Area man: A terrific place readers can identify with.. . if your community has a town named Area or Areaville.

At this point in time: A favourite of politicians. Right now is shorter and to the point. (Barrie Eggleston, Australia)

Ballpark figure: . . . and you thought there was only a pear-shape figure

Batten down the hatches: If you’re writing for Submarine Weekly, this is great. Otherwise sink it.

Behind the eight ball: Snooker this one

Better half: Relax Johnny! It has just as many pecans as the other half!

Best foot forward: Now do the hokey pokey

Black ice: Does that mean if it’s on a concrete sidewalk, it’s white ice? Or if it’s covering the grass it’s green ice? Ice is ice . . . clear! (Karen Smith Hupp, College of Southern Maryland)

Bull in a China shop: When was the last time you saw a bull in a China shop?

Completely engulfed: Go ahead, completely destroy this phrase.

Details are sketchy: Let’s give the details that are known, without making reference to artwork.

Ear to the ground: Look out! Here come the ants!

Everything I’ve been through: This phrase seems to have spawned from reality TV stars who’ve mostly been through bar fights, keg parties and several tons of ramen noodles. Ban it unless the speaker has been through something worth noting. (Janelle A. Skrinjar, Farm and Dairy Reporter, Ohio)

Facts of life: Yeah, I remember that TV show . . . wasn’t Tootie one of the stars?

Full steam ahead: All aboard for the Railway Writers Society of America! Unless you’re writing about trains, derail this phrase.

Fur flies: Don’t tell the folks at PETA!

Hidden agenda: Stop! Nobody leaves until we check all your pockets!

Hit the bricks: Masonry 101. Enrol today!

Hold the fort: Never write that someone or some group will hold the fort. Nobody holds the fort. OK, some people try. Davy Crockett tried to hold the fort. He died. The outlook is not good for people who try to hold the fort.

Hold the line: Someone tried to hold a line in Poseidon Adventure. They died.

In-camera: When officials meet secretly, they don’t climb inside a camera . . . they meet behind closed doors

Invest (as in spend): A great favourite of politicians, bureaucrats and those who write press releases for them. It’s a political weasel word.(submitted by Timothy Jaques, The Tribune, Cambellton, New Brunswick)

It was a dark and stormy night: And all through the house nobody could think of anything original

Laughing all the way to the bank: Have you checked out all those fees lately? Nobody’s laughing

Light at the end of the tunnel: Choo Choo, Mr. Flashlight is that you?

Like a sore thumb: Ouch!

At loggerheads: Just one minute, my chainsaw will fix that

Lounge lizard: Better call Geico

Needless to say: Then don’t say it

Party pooper: That’s it… I’m never hosting a party for one-year-olds ever again!

Pay through the nose: Ouch! Those quarters aren’t getting any easier 

Poster child: That writer is a poster child for cliche addiction (submitted by Becky Gregory, Waco Tribune Herald)

Proactive: Thank goodness they’re not being anti-active! (submitted by David Dore, Village Newspapers, Putnam, Conn.)

Problematic: It sounds like an automatic problem (submitted by J.P. Skelly, KORN Radio)

Rank and file: Do I have to get this all done in one day?

Set the record straight: Whew, thank you. I thought the heat had permanently warped my Barry Manilow album

Shake things up: Calling all bartenders!

Slap with a lawsuit: I don’t believe the justice system can function in North America without this constant slapping of defendants. It is bad enough to be served with legal process without being whacked across the face too. (submitted by Timothy Jaques, The Tribune, Cambellton, New Brunswick)

Start from scratch: I don’t see . . . wait! . . . now I see the scratch. OK, begin! 

Stick in the mud: Ready, set pull!

Take the plunge: Sorry, diving isn’t one of my favourite sports 

‘Tis the season: or any head that tries to play on the I’ll Be Home for Christmas, I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas, you get the . . . (Susan Crowell, editor, Farm & Dairy, Salem, OH)

Tongue-in-cheek: I’m telling you Doctor Welby, I’ve never seen anything like it before

Tough as nails: Now that’s a compliment. Isn’t it nice to be compared to a metal nail that occassionally bends upon hammering?

Up his sleeve: When was the last time you put anything up your sleeve?

Touched base: Great, if you’re writing about baseball

Wildly popular: More like wildly unoriginal (submitted by Flo Conner)