Back in 1938, Guardian writer Ivor Brown got his knickers in a twist about hijacked adjectives.
‘Prime’, he complained had been appropriated by butchers. ‘Quaint’ was an estate agent’s euphemism for a rickety house that was ‘a bandage-maker’s fortune, a bone-setter’s paradise’.
But he reserved his most poisonous venom for the word ‘dainty’.
This word has actually been so overworked as to become a deterrent: were I, thirsting for tea, to arrive in a village which offered “Dainty teas” on one side of the road and “Teas” on the other, the latter would have my shillling.
I agree. And I agree with his subsequent advice:
The best announcement for tea vendors in walking country would be “Teas for Tired People,” a simple, direct and encouraging phrase. Who that has just tottered down from some Bleakshaw Pike or Starveacre Rigg after twelve or twenty miles of peat-hags and downpour wants a dainty tea?
But he got me thinking.
If ‘dainty teas’ was one of the clichés of 1938, what are the clichés of 2011 – or at least the last few years?
There’s only one that springs to my mind.
But first tell me yours…