Most of us like to think of ourselves as originals. But when it comes to communicating with other human beings, we’re not quite as original as we think.
When we talk, and write, we not only use words; we use a wide assortment of stock phrases that we’ve picked up along the way. Some of these phrases are basic building blocks of language, more or less essential to communication; others are, as the expression goes, worn-out clichés. Some of these clichés are so burned into our brains that we almost can’t help using them — though we sometimes apologize for it afterwards (or even before).