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J R Soc Med. 2006 February; 99(2): 55.
PMCID: PMC1360486

Death to some clichés

I agree with Dr Forgacs (December 2005 JRSM1) that referring to a patient as being `haemodynamically stable' is unacceptable and the offending practitioner should be requested to return to basics and provide actual values.

However, I admit to being fond of `common things occur commonly' and the similar `when you hear the sound of hooves, don't look for zebras', both of which, in the thinking individual, do not exclude the uncommon diagnosis. I also believe that `irregular irregularity' is perfectly acceptable when describing a pulse or a magnified abnormal volar skin appearance.

What about clichés in general? `See you later' annoys when, as is often the case, the speaker is unlikely to see you again. The simile cliché `bald as a coot' may sometimes be accurate but it is a rude expression ready for burial. `Quality of life' is expanding its meaning as it becomes overused, and its use should be restricted.

Other clichés are no doubt `in the pipeline'. Unoriginal and trite they may be, but many still deserve `tender loving care' (Henry VI Part ii Act 3 Sc.2).


1. Forgacs I. Death to all clichés. J R Soc Med 2005;98: 554. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

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