What goes around comes around: Use this phrase to show you’ve lived life to the fullest and pretty much seen it all. Reporters think "what goes around comes around" even when they don’t speak it aloud. These savvy folks can interpret any news event or political dispute without a pause because in their minds everything has come around many times before.
It’s the first day of the rest of your life. Oprah left her show because after years of pitching this transformative idea, she came to believe it herself. Use this phrase to console your friends who’ve taken to drink or who’ve just been dumped by a lover. It comforts them to know that everything before this new first day doesn’t count. Of course, it’s a lie, but who cares. It’s the first day of the rest of your life.
Spot on. This Anglicism was perfect for a British duffer whose caddy helped him select just the right club on the fourth tee. “Spot on, old chap.” About 50 years after it ceased to be widely used in the U.K., this expression has popped up on American television. A local TV weather anchor recently praised NOAA forecasters for being “spot on” with a prediction. It was unclear whether this referred to the accuracy of the report or the intensity of the rain. Use this expression if you want to sound slightly fusty or harmlessly demented.
Not so much. This phrase tells everyone you’ve got an ironic, or perhaps jaded, view of the world. It now shows up frequently in cable news commentaries, as in: “Have Republicans eased off in their criticism of President Obama’s health care plan? Not so much.” The phrase doesn’t answer a specific question about what Republicans are thinking. Rather, it tells the audience that you cannily see through Republican tactics and know they’re still being obstructionist bastards. Will this expression help when you’re lying to your spouse or partner about what you did last night? Not so much.
Back in the day. This phrase is shorthand for once upon a time. Back in the day when this expression hadn’t been discovered or widely used (about three years ago), people didn’t have a quick way to communicate their ability to talk about history without seeming elderly. You can use it over and over again to suggest your reflective nature. However, never use it to say, “back in the day, what went around came around.” That would be pathetic.
Look.... Always follow this expression with a professorial pronouncement such as: “Look. If you take the surface street, you’ll arrive about an hour later than if you take the freeway.” It conveys to your listener that you’re simply smarter and have better command of the facts. This manner of speaking was used by President Obama when he first came into office. He stopped when a member of his staff told him: “Look. You’re sounding like an arrogant prick.” However, nearly every White House correspondent now uses the expression to let the audience in on the latest exclusive story revealed in the daily White House news briefing. As in: “Look. The president has his hands full deciding whether to drink Guinness Stout or Harp Lager when he stops at his great great grandfather’s hometown in Ireland. However, he's made a firm decision to add an apostrophe to O’bama.”
Y'know what I’m saying? Use this phrase when you don’t know what you mean and you want your listener to explain it to you.
Good luck. Your next lesson in the art of the cliché will start as soon as it goes around and comes around.