Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Words I'm Looking Up


This was going to be a "Words that Should Get a Divorce" post about "walk" and "life," as in "walk of life." I'm a little bothered by the cliche -- or, I should say, by our dependence on the cliche -- but I honestly can't think of a better alternative for "They come from every walk of life."

From every realm of life? Every area of life? Every circuit of life? Every tour of life? Every peregrination of life?

See? I got nuthin'.

So, seeing as I'm clearly unqualified to depose this cliche, I figured I'd just look up its use of "walk" in Dictionary.com.

walk. n.
27. a department or branch of activity, or a particular line of work. They found every walk of life closed against them.

Maybe my dislike of this expression is a regional prejudice. After all, I'm in L.A. And nobody walks in L.A.

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Joel said...

Okay, yeah, but there's a sweet little pop number on Dire Straits' "Brothers in Arms" album called "Walk of Life." Don't be hatin' on that. It's a different sense, of course, more of a musical thing, the backbeat that captures the rhythm and wonder of love and existence and such:

He do the song about the sweet lovin' woman
He do the song about the knife
He do the walk, he do the walk of life . . .

"Be-bop-a-lua, baby what I say" and all that.

June Casagrande said...

I'm not a Dire Straits fan, but "He do the walk of life" is cool because it turns the cliche on its head. Makes the words real instead of mindless.

Sharone said...

Sad but true. The overuse of the cliche (without an acceptable substitute) part and the walking in LA part. Even gym rats circle the parking lot endlessly in their cars, looking for closer parking spaces. Which I think is one of my favorite LA ironies.

Also, I looked up "walk of life" in the OED (it's what I do for kicks--don't judge me). It's been around for almost 300 years, so this may be a losing battle for you.

June Casagrande said...

True! Definitely a losing battle. It's just that, as an editor, I'm always trying to find alternatives to overused and cliched expressions. So often the answer is that it's cliched for a reason. There's no better alternative!


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