First of all, don't expect the little squiggle above the 'e' in 'cliche' that is in the title of this post, as I don't know where special characters are, and 'copy and paste' plays havoc with the font size, so we will just have live without it. Get over it. You know what I mean.
'Knowing what I mean' is the essence of this post too, because - as words are essentially to do with communication, and if you can efficiently communicate a meaning or feeling in one, fun-sized phrase or saying, surely it is worth the mild irritation caused by the employment of an over-used and tired old cliche, in order to save the listener or reader the effort of unravelling a well thought out and - usually - irritating new slant on an old theme, never mind the current green concerns about wasting paper?
Some writer on the radio this morning, said that something 'didn't cut the mustard' for her, and I remembered that I once knew the origin of that cliche, but have long since forgotten it. Did it matter that I no longer related the meaning that it now conveys to the original usage? Would it have been better if she had said, 'didn't do it for me' or an even longer winded version of the same message?
We are taught to avoid cliches like the plague by people like Martin Amis, who has been waging his own war against them since graduating from his creative writing course all those years ago, but - at the end of the day - you have to admit that they save a lot of time and effort for those who may not possess the same skill with the language as him.
Is it the sheer laziness that we find so irritating? The jury's out on this one.