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Writing Tips > 51 Commonly Over-Used Adverbs, Nouns, and Clichés in Writing

51 Commonly Over-Used Adverbs, Nouns, and Clichés in Writing

Do you want your writing to get noticed – in a good way? Ditch these over-used adverbs, nouns, and cliches! Eliminating these clichés and over-used descriptors (adverbs, adjectives, nouns, etc) will improve your writing quickly and easily.

Before you scroll down, do you see the over-used, redundant phrase in the sentence above? You get an A if you recognized that “quickly and easily” is an all-too-common descriptor! And an A+ if you recognized the over-used adjective in the last sentence 🙂

A reader asked for more specific tips on how to write better after he read 5 Over-Used Words and Phrases for Writers to Avoid. It took me awhile to write this post, but better late than never.



What’s that you say? The phrase “better late than never” is a cliché? It belongs on my “over-used words and phrases in writing” list? If you caught that, you get a gold star. If you noticed two redundant words in the title of this article, you get TWO gold stars. At the end I’ll tell you what I think they are. Let me know if you agree.

Getting rid of bloated writing is easy if you are familiar with these 51 most commonly over-used words and phrases in writing. Even just recognizing them in other people’s writing will help you become a more successful, confident writer. Compiling this list has certainly opened my eyes to my own weak writing habits.

The following “over-used words in writing” aren’t necessarily on the “no-fly list.” In fact, writers can use them and get delicious results in many circumstances. These adjectives just need to be used creatively and carefully.

Over-Used Adjectives

A noun is a person, place, or thing – and an adjective should describe the noun in more detail (eg, “successful writers”). Some writing teachers say that adjectives are wholly unnecessary, while others advise writers to use sparingly. It’s up to you, fellow scribes…

  1. Many
  2. Pretty
  3. Nice
  4. Kind
  5. Pleasant
  6. Tall/short/fat/skinny
  7. Big/little
  8. Shimmering
  9. Absolutely
  10. Same exact
  11. Truly unique
  12. Quite
  13. Funny
  14. Many
  15. Incredible
  16. A lot
  17. Bad/good
  18. Roaring
  19. Interesting
  20. Amazing
  21. Any

“As to the adjective, when in doubt, strike it out.” ~ Mark Twain.

Writing tip: Replace your boring over-used tired limp adjectives with strong nouns (eg, instead of “successfully obtains”, use “wins”). Using too many adjectives is a common writing mistake for all writers – not just newbies.

Over-used Adverbs in Writing

A verb contains all the action: writing, editing, getting published, signing copies of your book for fans. An adverb helps describe the action, and can often be unnecessary (see? I used “often be”, which is totally unnecessary. So is “totally”! You see how difficult good writing is?!?!).

  1. Very
  2. So
  3. Kind of
  4. Really
  5. Totally
  6. Actually
  7. Seems
  8. Suddenly
  9. Probably
  10. Could have
  11. Hopefully
  12. Just
  13. Perfect
  14. Viciously
  15. Usually

Fellow scribes, remember that an over-used adverb can be delicious and even juicy when it’s used in a surprising way.

Are you one of those writers who has a hard time spotting their own over-used words when writing love scenes for romance novels? Read Writing About Love: 20 Words for Writers on Valentine’s Day.



Over-Used Adverbs, Nouns, and Clichés in Your Writing
51 Over-Used Adverbs, Nouns, and Clichés in Your Writing

Over-Used Clichés in Writing

“Any great truth can – and eventually will – be expressed as a cliché…and a cliché is a sure and certain way to dilute an idea.” ~ Solomon Short.

  1. Writing on the wall
  2. Cry over spilled milk
  3. Better late than never
  4. Think outside the box
  5. At the end of the day
  6. The bottom line
  7. It’s not rocket science
  8. Easy as pie
  9. Smart as a whip
  10. Taking candy from a baby
  11. Love makes the world go ‘round
  12. Selling like hotcakes
  13. In the nick of time
  14. Go get ‘em, tiger!
  15. When life gives you lemons…

Thank you, AussieExpat (one of my readers), for “keeping it real” and not letting me forget my promise to compile this list of over-used words and phrases in writing.

For more ways to avoid over-used words, read How to Write Good Sentences – 5 Tips for Making Your Words Flow.

What are the two redundant words in the title of this article? In the fourth paragraph of this post I said you get TWO gold stars if you spot them. I think the words “commonly” and “in writing” (technically two words) are redundant. Instead of “51 Commonly Over-Used Adverbs, Nouns, and Clichés in Writing”, a better title is simply “51 Over-Used Adverbs, Nouns, and Clichés.”

And yes, the word “simply” in the last sentence is also redundant.

Fellow scribes, if you have any over-used words in writing, adverbs, adjectives, clichés, or weak phrases to throw into the ring (excuse the cliché), I welcome you with open arms (excuse the cliché).

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