"Our Three-Volume Novel at a Glance", a cartoon by Priestman Atkinson, from the Punch Almanack for 1885 (which would have been published in late 1884). This is a jocular look at some clichéd expressions in the popular literature of the time.

A cliché or cliche (pronounced UK: /ˈkliːʃeɪ/, US: /klɪˈʃeɪ/) is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, rendering it a stereotype, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel. In phraseology, the term has taken on a more technical meaning, referring to any expression imposed by conventionalized linguistic usage. The term is frequently used in modern culture for an action or idea which is expected or predictable, based on a prior event. Typically a pejorative, "clichés" are not always false or inaccurate;[1] a cliché may or may not be true.[2] Some are stereotypes, but some are simply truisms and facts.[3] Clichés are often employed for comic effect, typically in fiction.

Most phrases now considered clichéd were originally regarded as striking, but lost their force through overuse.[4] In this connection, David Mason and John Frederick Nims cite a particularly harsh judgement by Salvador Dalí: "The first man to compare the cheeks of a young woman to a rose was obviously a poet; the first to repeat it was possibly an idiot."[5]

A cliché is often a vivid depiction of an abstraction that relies upon analogy or exaggeration for effect, often drawn from everyday experience. Used sparingly, they may succeed. However, cliché in writing or speech is generally considered a mark of inexperience or unoriginality.



The word is borrowed from French. In printing, a cliché was a printing plate cast from movable type. This is also called a stereotype.[6] When letters were set one at a time, it made sense to cast a phrase used repeatedly as a single slug of metal. "Cliché" came to mean such a ready-made phrase. The French word “cliché” is said to come from the sound made when the matrix is dropped into molten metal to make a printing plate,[7] though some authorities express doubt.[8][9]


Using a feature such as an overhanging branch to frame a nature scene can be a visual cliché.[10]

Cliché is a noun that is also used as an adjective,[8][11] although some dictionaries do not recognize the adjective sense.[7][12] All dictionaries consulted recognize a derived adjective with the same meaning, clichéd[7][8][11][12] or cliché'd.[12]

See also


  1. ^ Ten Cliches That Actually Ring True - 09/16/2008 - by DearSugar
  2. ^ Short Story Library Thick skin and writing, cliché, but true - Published By Casey Quinn • May 10th, 2009 • Category: Casey's Corner
  3. ^ The Free Dictionary - Cliche
  4. ^ Mason, David; Nims, John Frederick (1999). Western Wind: An Introduction to Poetry. McGraw-Hill. pp. 126–127. ISBN 0-07-303180-1. 
  5. ^ Dalí, Salvador (1968). "Preface". In Pierre Cabanne. Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp (1987 ed.). Da Capo Press. p. 13. ISBN 0306803038. 
  6. ^ "The Museum of Printing: Collection". The Museum of Printing. Retrieved 13 March 2009. 
  7. ^ a b c "cliche". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. n.d. Retrieved 2010-10-21. 
  8. ^ a b c "cliché". Unabridged. n.d. Retrieved 2010-21-2. 
  9. ^ Harper, Douglas. "cliche". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2010-10-21. 
  10. ^ Freeman, Michael (2004). Nature and Landscape Photography. Lark Books. p. 36. ISBN 1-57990-545-5. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  11. ^ a b "cliché". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2010. Retrieved 2010-21-2. 
  12. ^ a b c Brown, Lesley, editor (1993). "cliché". New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-861271-0. 

Further reading

  • Anton C. Zijderveld (1979). On Clichés: The Supersedure of Meaning by Function in Modernity. Routledge. ISBN 071000186X. 
  • Margery Sabin (1987). "The Life of English Idiom, the Laws of French Cliché". The Dialect of the Tribe. Oxford University Press US. pp. 10–25. ISBN 0195041534. 
  • Veronique Traverso and Denise Pessah (Summer 2000). "Stereotypes et cliches: Langue, discours, societe". Poetics Today (Duke University Press) 21 (3): 463–465. doi:10.1215/03335372-21-2-463. 
  • Skorczewski, Dawn (December 2000). ""Everybody Has Their Own Ideas": Responding to Cliche in Student Writing". College Composition and Communication 52 (2): 220–239. doi:10.2307/358494. JSTOR 358494. 
  • Ruth Amossy and Chutiya Terese Lyons (1982). "The Cliché in the Reading Process". SubStance (University of Wisconsin Press) 11 (2.35): 34–45. doi:10.2307/3684023. JSTOR 3684023. 
  • Sullivan, Frank (1947) [1938]. "The Cliche Expert Testifies as a Roosevelt Hater". In Crane. The Roosevelt Era. New York: Boni and Gaer. pp. 237–242. OCLC 275967. "Mr. Arbuthnot: No sir! Nobody is going to tell me how to run my business. Q: Mr. Arbuthnot, you sound like a Roosevelt hater. A: I certainly am. Q: In that case, perhaps you could give us an idea of some of the cliches your set is in the habit of using in speaking of Mr. Roosevelt ..." 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • cliché — [ kliʃe ] n. m. • 1809; p. p. de clicher 1 ♦ Typogr. Plaque portant en relief la reproduction d une page de composition (gravure ou image), et permettant le tirage de nombreux exemplaires. Reproduction avec un mastic formant cliché. ⇒ polycopie.… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • cliché — sustantivo masculino 1. Plancha o grabado para imprimir varias copias: cliché de plomo, cliché de cinc, cliché de caucho, cliché de fotograbados. Sinónimo: clisé. 2. Negativo de una fotografía: sacar copias de un cliché. Guardo los clichés; así… …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • cliché — Voz tomada del francés cliché, ‘plancha que se utiliza para reproducir múltiples copias de los textos o imágenes grabados en ella’, ‘negativo fotográfico’ y ‘estereotipo o lugar común’: «No le importa [...] utilizar procedimientos más modernos e… …   Diccionario panhispánico de dudas

  • Cliché — (Сан Лючидо,Италия) Категория отеля: 3 звездочный отель Адрес: Località Deuda 70, 87038 Сан Л …   Каталог отелей

  • cliché — see CLICHE (Cf. cliche) …   Etymology dictionary

  • clichê — s. m. 1.  [Fotografia] Chapa fotográfica de negativo. 2. Folha estereotipada. 3. Matriz reprodutora de estampas. 4.  [Figurado] Molde ou vulgaridade que a cada passo se repete com as mesmas palavras. = CHAVÃO, LUGAR COMUM • Sinônimo geral: CLICHÉ …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • cliché — (also cliche) ► NOUN 1) a hackneyed or overused phrase or opinion. 2) a very predictable or unoriginal thing or person. DERIVATIVES clichéd (also cliché d) adjective. ORIGIN French, from clicher to stereotype …   English terms dictionary

  • cliché'd — cliché (also cliche) ► NOUN 1) a hackneyed or overused phrase or opinion. 2) a very predictable or unoriginal thing or person. DERIVATIVES clichéd (also cliché d) adjective. ORIGIN French, from clicher to stereotype …   English terms dictionary

  • cliche — 1832, from Fr. cliché, a technical word in printer s jargon for stereotype, supposedly echoic of the sound of a mold striking molten metal, thus pp. of clicher to click (18c.). Figurative extension to worn out expression is first attested 1888,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • cliché — s. m. O mesmo que clichê.   ‣ Etimologia: palavra francesa …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • cliché — (Del fr. cliché). 1. m. clisé (ǁ de imprenta). 2. Tira de película fotográfica revelada, con imágenes negativas. 3. Lugar común, idea o expresión demasiado repetida o formularia …   Diccionario de la lengua española

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”