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Cliches starting with C

ClicheMeaning
call as pade a spadeCall a spade a spade is a common cliche which means to speak honestly and directly about any given topic. Call a spade a spade is typically used specifically in topics that other people usually avoid speaking about because of their sensitivity or embarrassing subjects. Commonly it is in a sentence like Lets just call a spade a spade spoken by someone who simply wants to end the discussion (sometimes an argument) in order to talk about it further.
cant beat that with a stickCant beat that with a stick is a figurative cliche that is referring to something that cant get any better or cannot be improved upon. Rather than taking this phrase literal as in beating something with a stick, the phrase is figurative so beating in this cliche means to win or improve. Most commonly, cant beat that with a stick is simply a way to say they have found the best way possible to do something or the best product available which cannot be improved upon.
cant blame him for tryingCant blame him for trying is an idiom used by someone who wants to make a point that even though their friend or colleague has tried something and failed, at least they made an effort and tried their best. It typically is referring to the fact that this person is getting criticism for failing, but the person speaking is not surprised that they tried and feels they should not get negative gossip about them since they at least made an effort.
cant cut the mustardCant cut the mustard is an old saying that is referring to the inability to deal with problems or other types of difficulties. Cant cut the mustard hasnt been used in popular and modern day language in a decade or so but it is sometimes used as a way to explain that someone is not able to keep up with others when things get difficult or doing things that require a lot of hard work and persistence.
cant see the forest for the treesCant see the forest for the trees is a phrase which is referring to seeing the big picture, or broader, more general situation. By saying that you cant see the forest for the trees, the meaning is that you cant go to the forest just for the trees as there is so much more to a forest than the trees. You must see the broader picture, in this case the forest, including the animals, insects, plants, flowers and everything else you can see in the forest aside from the trees.
carpe diem (means seize the day in Latin)Carpe diem means seize the day in Latin and is a very common and well-known cliche. Carpe diem is one of the cliches which people have heard of and can use correctly in a sentence but are not entirely sure of the definition. Carpe diem, otherwise known as seizing the day, means to make the most out of life and the time you are given because your time is short and therefore you should take advantage of it.
cat got your tongue?Cat got your tongue is an idiom which is most often said by adults to children who are not responding or saying anything, though it can be said from one person to another regardless of their relationship to each other or their age. Cat got your tongue is a way of responding to someone who seems to be speechless, most commonly after asking them a question or making a comment that has them startled.
catching some ZZZsCatching some ZZZs is a cliche which is referring to the act of sleep. Someone who is going to catch some ZZZs is talking about going to sleep or taking a nap. The idiom of catching some ZZZs comes from comic strips and cartoons in which ZZZ is the symbol of the cartoon character being asleep and dreaming. Therefore, catching some ZZZs, means to fall asleep as well as dream in many cases.
caught between Scylla and CharybdisCaught between Scylla and Charybdis is an idiom which comes from Greek Mythology and is relative to the phrases between a rock and a hard place and between the devil and the deep blue sea. It is simply another way to say that you are stuck between two very difficult choices and have to choose between two evils. Scylla and Charybdis were both evil in Greek mythology, so being stuck between them means each choice is difficult.
caught in the crossfireCaught in the crossfire is a cliche which refers to being caught in the middle of two people or groups of people. If you are caught in the crossfire, you are right in the middle of a fight so figuratively, it transfers to being caught in the middle of an argument or fight between two people, typically those which you are familiar with. Caught in the crossfire can also be a more broad generalization of being caught between to larger groups in which it is difficult remaining neutral.
caught me off guardCaught me off guard is a phrase that is referring to being surprised by someone that has done or said something you were not expecting. Caught me off guard is commonly used when someone you know and whose behaviors seem predictable will suddenly do something you couldnt possibly expect, therefore you were surprised and caught off guard by these actions.
caught red-handedBeing caught red handed means to be caught in the midst of an act of committing a misdemeanor. Typically when you are caught red handed, you are caught doing something illegal such as stealing something, and the evidence is out in the open for everyone to see such as on a video camera or in a public store where everyone can see your face and see that you are stealing something.
caught with his hands in the tillCaught with his hands in the till is a cliche which is most commonly used a way to explain that someone was caught stealing. A till was a sort of money box or drawer with money and valuables in it, which was common in the 15th century. If someone was caught with their hands in the till, they were caught stealing. The phrase is similar to being caught red handed, but it relates primarily to stealing something.
caught with his pants downCaught with his pants down is another way of saying that someone is in a situation which is embarrassing and open to the public. If you say you are caught with your pants down and think of literally, you are in a highly embarrassing situation where you are exposed for everyone to see. Figuratively, it can be used for any type of situation in which you are embarrassed from people seeing you in the vulnerable state.
changing his tuneChanging his tune is an idiom which has become a cliche due to how common it is used in modern day language. Changing his tune means that he has changed his opinion completely to the point where it is the opposite from what it was before. This is especially true in the case where the changing of his opinion brought someone else to an advantage. Changing his tune is primarily a positive phrase, but can also have negative connotations.
chapter and verseChapter and verse is the figurative phrase in which is referring to something that is extremely and specifically detailed, in reference to sources of information. Chapter and verse is commonly a cliche used in reference to the method of referring to biblical text because text in the bible is often following a very specific and detailed method of referencing different sources of information. While it is more common in biblical text, this cliche can be used for other writing works as well.
check it outCheck it out is a slang term which has since become a cliche due to how often it is used. Check it out is a way of asking someone to look at something they have been discussing and to think about it. It can also be used when responding to someone else in the way that you will check it out. In other words, you might say Ill check it out as a way to tell them you will look at it or read it and consider what you see.
children should be seen and not heardChildren should be seen and not heard is a cliche that should be taken in the literal sense. Children should be seen and not heard began as a biblical verse which used children and women in this phrase where they should be present but do not have a right to say anything, primarily to give an opinion. In modern day language, children should be seen and not heard is most commonly used as a sarcastic quip about the fact that children should not argue with their parents.
chomping at the bitChomping at the bit is a phrase that is referring to showing impatience or frustration when delayed. This is most commonly used when an individual is waiting for something to happen or someone to arrive, and they are becoming increasingly more agitated and having to wait. Someone who is usually impatient will use this phrase more often and say are chomping at the bit (biting their teeth or lips in frustration).
clam upTo clam up means you refuse to talk or you are unwilling to respond to someone who is asking you question. In the literal sense, a clam closing would be unable to make a sound should it be able to when the clam is open, so when thinking about it figuratively and as a cliche, it means to remain quiet with your mouth closed. To clam up is often used as a way to describe someone suddenly becoming quiet and refusing to answer a question.
clash of the titansClash of the Titans is used in many types of media including a popular movie, television series and book series. When used as a figurative term, Clash of the Titans means to clash together in war, such as being in a big argument and clashing together. Historically, the Titans clashed together in war which is how this cliche first came about. It is not most often used to describe two groups of the same type of people or beliefs who are at war with each other.
cleanliness is next to GodlinessCleanliness is next to Godliness is an ancient proverb that comes straight from a bible verse. The phrase is now considered a cliche as it is often used in everyday conversation as a way to describe the important of being clean. Cleanliness is next to Godliness means that aside from the importance of believing and praying to God, keeping yourself clean is the next most important thing you should focus on in your life.
clear as a bellClear as a bell is an idiom which is referring to a sound that is extremely clear and easy to hear. As bells in the literal sense are extremely easy to hear both due to their volume and the way your ears hear the sounds of a bell ringing, the phrase is often used when referring to other types of sounds which are vivid, clear and easy for you to hear.
close but no cigarClose but no cigar is a cliche that means you have fallen just short of having a successful outcome and will receive nothing for your efforts. It is commonly used when you attempt to complete something that you would have gotten rewarded (such as a cigar) for if you succeeded, but you didnt succeed. Furthermore, you came extremely close to succeeding and receiving your reward, but not quite there.
Close only counts in horseshoes and hand-grenadesClose only counts in horseshoes and hand-grenades is an old phrase which is talking about being close to succeeding but that being close isnt good enough. You might also hear it as almost only counts in horseshoes and hand-grenades. The cliche means that you cant just be close to completing something such as scoring, making decisions or being correct about something; you must get there all the way, not almost there.
cold feetCold feet is an idiot which means to become disheartened or timid where you lose your enthusiasm about something or your courage to do something. Nowadays, having cold feet has been a cliched term in talking about someone who is about to get married but suddenly gets scared and wants to back out of the marriage. It doesnt mean they dont want to marry their significant other, but they get a moment of lacking courage.
cold shoulderCold shoulder is an idiom used to show someone is displaying a coldness about themselves and is indifferent to other people and situations. Having a cold shoulder is often a purposeful act with the intention of wounding another person or hurting their feelings, often because they hurt theirs first. Other times, having a cold shoulder is simply talking about someone who is generally a cold and indifferent person.
come again?Come again is usually asked as a question in which they are asking someone to repeat what they just said. While come again is a cliched term used to ask someone what they said because they spoke at a low volume and could not hear them clearly, it is very commonly said because what they thought they heard was negative. Asking come again is often asked as a way to be sure they really heard something negative.
come hell or high waterCome hell or high water means that what they are talking about is going to happen, no matter what the circumstances might be. For instance, if someone is speaking about an upcoming hardship or long journey they need to complete, they will say it will happen come hell or high water because they are going to complete the journey no matter what comes in the way of their path.
come up shortCome up short is an idiom which refers to being defeated by a small margin or missing the indented target. If you are coming up short, you arent necessarily being defeated by a large margin, but you just barely got defeated. When speaking of coming up short, you have come nearly as close as possible to defeating your enemy target but did not quite hit the target.
coming apart at the seamsComing apart at the seams is a cliche referring to being in a very bad condition and that you are likely to fail. When someone says they are coming apart at the seams it can be a physical or psychological ailment where they are either going through a bad time psychologically or physically they have a large number of ailments which lead to more serious health conditions. Coming apart at the seams is an offshoot from the literal term of an item ripping at the seams and quickly coming apart.
coming out of the closetComing out of the closet means to talk in public about something that you have been keeping secret because you were embarrassed to have this secret known. The idiom known as coming out of the closet can be related to any type of secret you dont want told, but coming out of the closet has become a cliche for someone who is homosexual and is now opening up to others and letting it be known.
comparing apples to orangesComparing apples and oranges is the cliched term which describes how inaccurate the comparison of two different groups of things is. Apples and oranges, while both fruit, have no similarities whatsoever; not color, taste, or type of fruit. Comparing apples and oranges is often used when showing why comparing two completely opposite things is an invalid comparison because they are two different to compare.
cool as a cucumberCool as a cucumber is a phrase which is used to explain that someone is extremely calm and in control of their emotions. Cucumbers are cool in the literal sense in that they are a neutral vegetable, with a calming taste and a cool-like temperature. Figuratively, to be cool as a cucumber means to be a person who is often very simple and calm, and in control of your emotions without becoming moody or exaggerating your negative emotions.
cool your jetsCool your jets is a common cliche that indicates the importance of calming down, slowing down and controlling your excitement. It is often spoken from someone on the outside of a conversation that is calm, and notices someone in the middle of a stressful conversation or situation and sees that person becoming agitated or angry. Cool your jets is often spoken to ask someone to calm down and relax.
could care less/couldnt care lessCouldnt care less is the expression that individuals use when they dont care about something or lack the interest in the conversation or situation in question. The cliche is often worded incorrectly as could care less but in fact, if you could care less, than you care a great deal. The correct way to use this idiom is to say you couldnt care less, in that you care the least amount possible, usually not at all.
couldnt hit the broad side of a barnCouldnt hit the broad side of the barn is an older idiom which is used to explain that someone has very poor aim. It is a hyperbolic term typically worded to show that someone has poor aim and marksmanship, typically in sports or physical activity with involve throwing something and aiming it at something such as with throwing a football or basketball, or kicking a soccer ball into the goal.
couldnt make heads or tails of itCouldnt make heads or tails of it is an idiom used to show that you are not able to understand something. It is usually meant as a general term for being confused about something, but is also typically used in reference to something you absolutely and positively do not understand, meaning not one aspect of the equation seems logical to you. Heads and tails is in reference to each side of a coin, in that you dont understand any side of something.
count your blessingsCount your blessings is a phrase which is commonly used to show the importance of optimism and appreciating the good things your life. It is often spoken to people who tend to see the negative side of their life and of specific situations and encourages them to see the positive. The phrase insists that no matter how bad things seem to be overall, they always have something to be grateful for.
countless hoursCountless hours is the phrase which depicts hours that cannot possible be counted or accounted for. It is typically used in reference to doing something for a large amount of hours; not that they can literally not be counted, but it seems to have taken so long, the hours spent seem innumerable. Saying you have done something for countless hours is a way to exaggerate the length of time spent on that project.
crammed in like sardinesCrammed in like sardines is a figurative way of saying a large number of people are placed in a very small space in comparison to how many people are there. Literally speaking, sardines in a can are so tightly packed, they are often hard to remove; there are dozens of sardines in one tiny can. As in the figurative sense, saying you are crammed in like sardines means so many people are in one space you can hardly move.
creature comfortCreature comfort is the short phrase used for showing that something contributes to some sort of physical comfort and is often used as a plural explanation. Some creature comforts which are often used include food, water, shelter and warmth among many others. The cliche creature comfort typically appears in conversations which are centered on things that make a person feel safe, secure and comfortable.
creme de la cremeCr
crime in the streetCrime in the street is an idiom which is most commonly used in its literal sense and is speaking mostly about juvenile delinquency. When someone talks about crime in the street, they literally mean the level of crime in the street, most commonly in urban and metro type neighborhoods. The crime in the street is usually talking about juvenile delinquency and other minor crimes committed by juveniles.
crossing the RubbikonCrossing the Rubicon is an idiom which means to pass a point of no return. The cliche is referring to Julius Caesar and his army crossing the river in 49 BC which at the time was considered an act of insurrection. It is now impossible to confirm where the Rubicon flowed when his legion crossed it, therefore Crossing the Rubicon means to pass something which you may never return from.
cruisin for a bruisinCruisin for a bruisin is a very common and well-known cliche which is referring to doing something purposefully and quite stupid that may result in negative consequences and bodily harm. The bruisin part of this cliche is referring to receiving a beating, thus being bruised from this type of bodily harm. Cruisin for a bruisin shows that someone seems intent on receiving a beating for their idiotic behavior.
cry me a riverCry me a river is a phrase often told to people in a sarcastic way which means to tell them to stop crying, complaining or whining. It is another way of telling people you dont care what they are saying, and that they should stop whining or complaining about whatever it is. It is often said in a negative way due to the incessant crying or complaints from the other person, thus telling them to cry me a river.
cry uncleCry uncle is an idiom which refers to indicating a willingness to give up a fight and to show that they are willing to surrender. The term uncle, as opposed to being your parents brother, is also the word associated with a kindly counselor or someone who is older and wiser. When you cry uncle, you are asking this kindly counselor for help, thus willing to surrender in order to give up the fight.
crying crocodile tearsCrying crocodile tears is the figurative phrase for shedding false tears or pretending to be crying. Crocodiles do not have tear ducts and therefore are unable to cry actual tears. The cliche crying crocodile tears is therefore directly associated with fake crying, shedding false tears or just trying to appear like you are crying with an obvious weeping sound that includes no real tears.
curiosity killed the catCuriosity killed the cat is an ancient proverb which means to be very curious; so curious it can get you into trouble. Curiosity killed the cat is often given to someone as a warning that if they keep prying into other peoples business, there will be negative consequences. It can also be used as more of a generalization that being overly curious and nosy about other peoples affairs will get you into trouble.
curry favorCurry favor is the idiom used to try to make someone have the same opinion as you or support you by doing and saying things to please them. Curry favor isnt often used in modern day language, but is occasionally referred to as being a different way to butter someone up. You want to say and do things to please them and make them happy so that they will turn around and see things your way and support you.
curse a blue streakurse a blue streak is the idiom for a constant stream of curse words that are said extremely fast. A blue streak is often referred to as something which moves extremely fast and cursing is added into this cliched term in relation to a long, constant stream of curse words. Curse a blue stream is an idiom that has become a cliche due to the regularity of using it to explain all of the cursing someone has done.
cut a fine figureCut a fine figure is an idiom often used to describe someone that looks attractive and elegant in a female, or a male that is attractive with a very muscular body. Cut a fine figure is talking about the cut or the shape of a persons body as is the fine figure portion of this idiom. Cut a fine figure is a way to describe the attractiveness and good body of a male or a female.
cut and driedCut and dried, as in It is cut and dried, is referring to a subject, situation or idea that is very clear and easy to understand. Something that is cut and dried involves a simple, clear and cohesive process or preparing it. Cut and dried as a cliche is typically used in the negative such as It isnt so cut and dried which is explaining that the idea, situation or subject is not so clear, simple and easy to understand; that it is more complex.
cut off your nose to spite your faceCut off your nose to spite your face, or cutting off your nose to spite the face, is an expression often used to describe a needlessly self-destructive reaction (typically an overreaction) to a problem or situation. Cut off your nose to spite your face is usually a warning against pursuing revenge in a way that will damage yourself more than the person you are angry at. If you cut off your nose because you dont like your face, you are making it less attractive than it was before.
cut the cheeseTo cut the cheese is an extremely common and well-known slang term used for passing gas. The modern slang term for passing gas, is farting, which is essentially what cutting the cheese is to mean. This idiom is said to come from the fact that many good cheeses have a very strong odor while they are being cut if they are fresh, therefore cutting the cheese will cause an unpleasant odor such as passing gas.
cut through the red tapeCut through the red tape is the figurative saying for eliminating or neutralizing something that is very complicated and has many rules or procedures. Cutting through the red tape is commonly used in government where to get something done or get your voice heard; you must go through a variety of difficult procedures and bureaucratic rules in order to succeed with your endeavor.
cut to the chaseCut to the chase is an idiom which means to get to the point quickly without wasting time. Cut to the chase is often spoken to someone who seems to be mumbling and avoiding the topic at hand. This person is often going off on a tangent and avoiding the subject they meant to discuss where you will tell them to cut to the chase and just hurry up and get to their point without wasting more time.
cut to the quickCut to the quick is an idiom used for describing someone who is injured emotionally. Cut to the quick is a phrase not often used nowadays, but will occasionally be spoken about someone who intentionally injured someone else on an emotional level such as with hurtful words, insults and blaming them which will effect them negatively and emotionally. Cutting to the quick means to go straight to the emotions in order to injure them psychologically.
cute as a buttonCute as a button is a common phrase which is talking about someone who is very attractive. While the slang word cute which ultimately means attractive is used in this phrase, there can be a variety of definitions for being cute as a button which generally depends on the person speaking. Someone who is cute as a button is usually attractive, happy, energetic and full of life in most circumstances.