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Avoid Them Like the Plague

Extent: 192pages

Size: 198x129mm

Publication Date: 25/06/2015

Price: £6.99

ISBN: 9781782434283

Categories: Language

About the Book

With all the bells and whistles, this intriguing guide to all those everyday phrases really is the bees knees for anyone with a love of the English language.

Let’s cut to the chase: clichés are a familiar part of the English language, but to be honest, many have been so over-used that they have become trite, meaningless and rather irritating.

With this informative and humorous book, you are in a safe pair of hands as you learn about the origins and meanings of some of the most hackneyed phrases still used today.

Avoid Them Like the Plague will keep you up to speed with clichés in their many forms – once useful but now overworked catchphrases (‘move the goal posts’), worn-out sayings (‘all hands on deck’), pointless phrases used to conceal a weak argument (‘to be perfectly honest’), technical terms used out of context (‘collateral damage’) and many others.

This fun and witty book aims to expose the self-importance or laziness that frequently lie behind the worst examples of these phrases and sheds light on why it’s best to avoid them.

Employing a combination of erudition, humour and occasional derision, Avoid Them Like the Plague thinks outside the box and really is the best thing since sliced bread for anyone who values good English and clear communication.

About the Author

Nigel Fountain is a writer, broadcaster and journalist who has written for many publications, including The Guardian (for which he was commissioning obituaries editor for many years), The Observer, The Sunday Times, The New Statesman, The Oldie, the London Evening Standard, the New York Soho Weekly News, History Today, New Society, Oz magazine and Time Out. His documentary work for Radio 4 and BBC2 has ranged from style magazines and the history of thrillers to dance halls and the events of 1968. His books include the award-winning WWII: The People's Story.


  • 'They're the everyday phrases that we all love to hate – and all love to use. Author Nigel Fountain cuts to the chase and tells us what they really mean', Mail on Sunday
  • 'Guides the reader through the origins, histories and meanings of clichés in every form', The Oldie