cli·​ché | \ klē-ˈshā How to pronounce cliché (audio) , ˈklē-ˌshā, kli-ˈshā \
variants: or less commonly cliche

Definition of cliché

1 : a trite phrase or expression also : the idea expressed by it
2 : a hackneyed theme, characterization, or situation
3 : something (such as a menu item) that has become overly familiar or commonplace

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from cliché

cliché adjective

What is the Difference Between cliché and stereotype?

The words cliché and stereotype have a good deal in common. Both come from French, both were originally printers’ terms, and both have come to take on somewhat negative meanings in modern use.

Their original meanings are essentially synonymous, referring to printing blocks from which numerous prints could be made. In fact, cliché means stereotype in French. Their modern meanings, however, are quite distinct. Cliché is today overwhelmingly encountered in reference to something hackneyed, such as an overly familiar or commonplace phrase, theme, or expression. Stereotype is most frequently now employed to refer to an often unfair and untrue belief that many people have about all people or things with a particular characteristic.

Examples of cliché in a Sentence

Non-Amateur writers avoid industriously the word Orwellian, because even years ago it became an overused and underdefined cliché. — William F. Buckley, Jr., National Review, 1 May 2000 FILM "I Like It Like That": It has every cliché of the 'hood genre, elevated by a strong woman protagonist and a few comic moments. — Bell Hooks, Ms., September/October 1994 I'd never been out with a model before, so I hadn't even bargained on the cliché of the rock star and the model as being part of my life. — David Bowie, quoted in Rolling Stone, 10 June 1993 Time has been the best healer for the pain of loss, just as the old cliché says, but letting go is still difficult. — Lynn McAndrews, My Father Forgets, 1990 … don't seek the ultimate, general solution; find a corner that can be defined precisely and, as our new cliché proclaims, go for it. — Stephen Jay Gould, Natural History, July 1987 a speech filled with clichés about “finding your way” and “keeping the faith” The macho cop of Hollywood movies has become a cliché.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Americans vowing to move to Canada after the presidential election is almost a cliche. Ben Sales,, "Ahead of election, growing number of U.S. Jews consider leaving," 1 Oct. 2020 With many people adopting new work-from-home routines and houses packed with remote-learning kids or bored roommates, COVID-19 has potentially turned all of us into that hapless adolescent cliche. Flora Tsapovsky,, "Amid pandemic isolation, audio erotica is having a moment," 11 Sep. 2020 After his brother — played by a fresh-faced Chris Brown — is murdered (another cliche of the genre) at a dance crew battle gone wrong, Short’s character, DJ, goes away to college to get out of trouble. Washington Post, "Not all dance movies are created equal, but these 12 bad ones are still pretty great," 17 Aug. 2020 Johnson delivered on the promise of those subtitles, revealing how currently overlooked historical episodes were, in fact, momentous inflection points (to use a trendy cliche). Howard Schneider, National Review, "When Piracy Threatened to Destroy the East India Company," 15 Aug. 2020 But the notion that simply making an image black and white can imbue it with an inherent sense of import has also become something of a cliche, especially when used by amateur Instagram shutterbugs. Cait Munro,, "Grey Area: How Black & White Photography Became A Complicated Symbol Of Female Empowerment," 31 July 2020 There's a reason that socks are a cliche—but 100 percent terrific—Father's Day gift. Amanda Tarlton, USA TODAY, "14 last-minute Father’s Day gifts that will arrive by Sunday," 16 June 2020 The challenge for Cole and his skilled collaborators is to capture this painful reality, to evoke an ongoing history of psychological and systemic bondage, without reducing those hard truths to deterministic cliches. Los Angeles Times, "Review: Netflix’s ‘All Day and a Night’ is a bruising, empathetic gangland drama," 1 May 2020 Nothing here is a cliche, especially the ark aerie. oregonlive, "Ark treehouse, Airstream and ADUs: Portland architect designs compact, comfy homes on his Cully property," 25 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cliché.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of cliché

1881, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cliché

French, literally, printer's stereotype, from past participle of clicher to stereotype, of imitative origin

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about cliché

Time Traveler for cliché

Time Traveler

The first known use of cliché was in 1881

See more words from the same year

Statistics for cliché

Last Updated

9 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cliché.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for cliché


How to pronounce cliché (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of cliché

: a phrase or expression that has been used so often that it is no longer original or interesting
: something that is so commonly used in books, stories, etc., that it is no longer effective

More from Merriam-Webster on cliché

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cliché

Comments on cliché

What made you want to look up cliché? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Namesakes Word Quiz

  • a citrus fruit possibly named after a person
  • Which of the following is a fruit named after a Moroccan seaport?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!