What happens when a cliche outlasts the technology that inspired it?

The movie "License to Wed" has critics writing that Robin Williams' character puts the bride and groom "through the ringer." Anyone remember the original clothes wringers that inspired this cliche?

The new movie License to Wed has elicited an amazing amount of consensus from movie critics. They seem to agree that the movie stinks, and many wrote that the Reverend played by Robin Williams puts the bride and groom "through the ringer" with his obnoxious premarital counseling course.

I didn't worry about this cliche too much until I saw the same phrase turn up in more than a handful of reviews. For those of you scratching your heads wondering what "through the ringer" means (Something about ring tones? A ringer entered in a contest? A dead ringer?), the original phrase is actually put someone "through the wringer," as in squeezing something through an old-fashioned clothes wringer.

What happens when a cliche outlasts the source that inspired it? We can teach everyone what "wringer" means, throw out the saying, or adapt it. I would be curious to see what people who write "through the ringer" think it means. I bet they would come up with answers that make sense given our modern times. This saying has a chance of evolving.

 

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