Diction Exercise (348)

The following sentences contain clichéd expressions that would be more clearly expressed in other words. Choose the answer that best indicates the expression's meaning in the context.

  • Back in the day, children who misbehaved in school were punished by their parents.

  • You will miss your meeting because traffic is backed up; it is what it is.

  • At the end of the day, consumers decide which products will sell.

  • That color looks hideous on you. I’m just saying.

  • Clearly, you don’t know where I’m coming from.

Answers and Explanations

1. Back in the day, children who misbehaved in school were punished by their parents.

Correct: In previous years
"Back in the day" is a cliché popular on television, usually spoken by a character who disapproves of changes that have been made in the way a particular line of work is being conducted in the present.

2. You will miss your meeting because traffic is backed up; it is what it is.

Correct: some things cannot be altered
"It is what it is" is an especially vapid cliché that is supposed to be expressive of a deep understanding of the way things are; it is essentially meaningless.

3. At the end of the day, consumers decide which products will sell.

Correct: When all the facts are in
"At the end of the day" used to mean "in the evening." Now it’s just another empty cliché popularized via the media.

4. That color looks hideous on you. I’m just saying.

Correct: Don’t get mad; it’s not my fault you reacted that way
Like the expression "with all due respect," the cliché "I’m just saying" has become common as an attempt to deny responsibility for a vulgar or hateful remark.

5. Clearly, you don’t know where I’m coming from.

Correct: you don’t understand me.
This expression is 1960s slang that is still common with some speakers.

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