Difference Between Language and Cliche

Main difference

The main difference between Idiom and Cliché is that Idiom gives a positive impression while Cliché gives a negative impression.

Modism vs. Cliche

An idiom is a fixed phrase, while a cliché is a mutative phrase. The expression that has a symbolic meaning different from its precise meaning is called an idiom, while an overused opinion that shows the absence of the original thought is called a cliché.

The language has a figurative or abstract meaning; has no factual meaning. On the other hand, the cliché has both symbolic and precise meaning. The use of idioms is considered positive, while the use of clichés is considered negative.

Idioms are used as they are created, while clichés have become boring and repetitive due to overuse. Idioms cannot be changed to another language, while clichés can be transformed into any language based on your hunches.

A language can also be presented as the unique and peculiar characteristics of each language, culture and society. On the other hand, clichés are terminologies or phrases that were previously considered novel but are now considered tiresome and exhausting due to the extreme use of them.

The idiom “I don’t take the skin off my nose” means that it doesn’t affect me at all. It cannot be interpreted as being related to the skin or the nose. This example implies that the idioms have hidden figurative meanings in them, but no literal meaning at all. On the contrary, in cliché, the phrase “Last but not least” is a very nice saying, but due to its excessive misuse in the grunge of everyday life, it has lost its novelty and freshness.

Comparison chart

Idiom Cliche
A fixed phrase or saying with its figurative meaning different from its apparent meaning is called an idiom. An overused statement that lacks the original meaning is called a cliché.
full sense
Convey full meaning Does not convey a complete meaning
used with need excessive misuse
figurative meaning
It has a figurative meaning It has a figurative meaning
literal meaning
no literal meaning has a literal meaning
original meaning
Express original meaning No original meaning at all
irritation factor
Does not exist Exists

What is Language?

Fixed expressions that have an abstract meaning, but not an exact meaning, are called idioms. Idioms describe things in a distinctive way that makes them interesting. The meaning of a language cannot be inferred from its constituent words.

An idiom does not mean the way its words are described. The hidden meaning behind them is abstract and literal. that is, “Ali was teasing her brother.” This idiom doesn’t mean that Ali was kidding; it means Ali was cheating on his brother.


  • In the blink of an eye, it means fast
  • Crying over spilled milk – means good luck
  • Break a leg – means good luck
  • Hold your horse – means wait
  • Running cats and dogs: it means to rain a lot
  • Piece of cake – means an easy way
  • It costs an arm and a leg, it means very expensive
  • Bite your tongue – means confusion


  • Opaque Idiom: Idioms whose literal meaning is not linked to the actual meaning are called opaque idioms. A person cannot understand the real meaning of opaque idioms with her words. that is, “smelling a rat” means something is wrong.
  • Transparent idioms: Idioms that are somewhat understandable and their apparent meaning can be related to their real meaning are called transparent idioms. that is, “laying the cards on the table” means making everything reveal, which makes sense with the literal meaning.

What is cliche?

A cliché is a very typical and common expression that originated in the changing times and has a meaning related to the situation. Over time, frequent use of these phrases makes them lose their novelty and uniqueness.

Some clichés refer to thoughts that are somehow true. Some clichés refer to ideas that are stereotyped and unreasonable. Some clichés may point towards facts and figures, but the thing is, whatever the type of them, they are still used in our daily lives.

Clichés are considered to convey mostly negative intellect. Clichés can be easily understood compared to the idioms that are commonly used.

Examples are; As fit as a violin, It’s about time, Mom is the word, Beauty is only skin deep, Scared to death, Read between the lines, Falling headfirst, As brave as a lion, etc. All these examples are easily understandable as they are commonly used.


  • Figurative cliches: Cliches that do not have a literal meaning are called figurative cliches. These kinds of clichés don’t make any sense, even if they are translated into another language. that is, “it is raining cats and dogs”. The meaning of heavy rain is not clear with this cliché, so it is a figurative cliché.
  • Literal cliches: Cliches that have a literal meaning are called literal cliches. If these clichés are translated into any other language, they can convey their meaning. that is, “All’s well that ends well.”

Key differences

  1. An idiom can be taken as a constant phrase, while a cliché can be considered as a variable phrase.
  2. An idiom is defined as an expression that has its apparent idea different from its real idea, while a cliché is defined as an expression that has its apparent idea closely related to its real idea.
  3. An idiom cannot be assumed because they have strong logic behind them, but a cliché can be understood relatively easier as it is commonly used in daily routine.
  4. A language maintains its freshness and novelty all the time. On the other hand, clichés have become boring and scary due to their extensive and extreme use in everyday language.
  5. A language is not without original thought. On the contrary, a cliché lacks common sense and meaningful notions.
  6. Idioms take on a figurative meaning but not a literal meaning, while the cliché has both a figurative and a literal meaning.
  7. The use of the language gives positive vibrations; on the other hand, the use of clichés gives off negative vibes.
  8. Idiom types include transparent and opaque idioms, while cliché types include figurative and literal clichés.
  9. The use of idioms in writing is reflected as a sign of good writing quality. On the contrary, the use of clichés in writing is considered a sign of poor quality of writing.
  10. Some idioms may be deliberated as figurative clichés, but no cliché can be considered an idiom.

Final Thought

Phrases that need vocabulary skills to understand and are not commonly used in the language are called idioms. Instead, phrases that have lost their innovation and peculiarity due to the extreme practice of common language are called clichés.

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