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Extract from a cartoon by Priestman Atkinson, from the Punch Almanack for 1885, mocking clichéd expressions in the popular literature of the time
A cliché or cliche ( or ) is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has become overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, even to the point of being trite or irritating, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel.
Most phrases now considered clichéd originally were regarded as striking, but have lost their force through overuse. The French poet Gérard de Nerval once said, "The first man who compared woman to a rose was a poet, the second, an imbecile."
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, it may succeed, but the use of a cliché in writing, speech, or argument is generally considered a mark of inexperience or a lack of originality.
The word cliché is borrowed from French, where it is a past passive participle of "clicher" 'to click', used a noun; cliché is attested from 1825 and originated in the printing trades. The term "cliché" was adopted as printers' jargon to refer to a stereotype, electrotype, cast plate or block print that could reproduce type or images repeatedly. It has been suggested that the word originated from the clicking sound in "dabbed" printing (a particular form of stereotyping in which the block was impressed into a bath of molten type-metal to form a matrix). Through this onomatopoeia, "cliché" came to mean a ready-made, oft-repeated phrase.
Using a feature such as an overhanging branch to frame a nature scene may be described as a visual cliché even though it also supplies scale.
Various dictionaries recognize a derived adjective clichéd, with the same meaning.Cliché is sometimes used as an adjective, although some dictionaries do not recognize it as such, listing the word only as a noun and clichéd as the adjective.
Thought-terminating clichés, also known as thought-stoppers, or semantic stopsigns, are words or phrases that discourage critical thought and meaningful discussion about a given topic. They are typically short, generic truisms that offer seemingly simple answers to complex questions or that distract attention away from other lines of thought. They are often sayings that have been embedded in a culture's folk wisdom and are tempting to say because they sound true or good or like the right thing to say. Some examples are: "Stop thinking so much", "here we go again", and "what effect do my actions have?"
Anton C. Zijderveld (1979). On Clichés: The Supersedure of Meaning by Function in Modernity. Routledge. ISBN9780710001863.
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. ISBN9780195041538.
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. JSTOR358494.
Ruth Amossy; Lyons (1982). Trans. Terese Lyons. "The Cliché in the Reading Process. Trans. Terese Lyons". SubStance. University of Wisconsin Press. 11 (2.35): 34-45. doi:10.2307/3684023. JSTOR3684023.
Sullivan, Frank (1947) . "The Cliche Expert Testifies as a Roosevelt Hater". In Crane, Milton (ed.). The Roosevelt Era. New York: Boni and Gaer. pp. 237-242. OCLC275967. 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 ...