cliché

noun
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

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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. There’s a reason steak and Napa Cab are a cliché pairing—together they’re the Jay-Z and Beyoncé of food and wine: bold, sleek, powerful. —“What to Pour at the Picnic Table” P. 19, WINE ENTHUSIAST MAGAZINE Vol. 26 No. 7, July, 2013 An elegant and scrupulous writer, Anna was often dismayed to look back at earlier pages of her journal and see notes about futuristic mind experiments involving implanted memories and telepathy, or the physics of a new sphere of reality. In college, she had romanticized madness, but this was insanity as cliché. It offered no revelation. —“Which Way Madness Lies” P. 46, Rachel Aviv, HARPER’S MAGAZINE Vol. 321 No. 1927, December, 2010 Admiring the Puritans, Morgan is naturally impatient with our national cliché about a sour, church-obsessed and sexually repressed people who, as H.L. Mencken put it, hated the thought that someone somewhere might be having a good time. Combat against error is clearly one of Morgan’s great pleasures, and those who speak with carefree indifference to fact risk being humiliated and routed by overwhelming barrages of antique official documents. —“A Heroic Historian on Heroes” P. 36, Russell Baker, THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS Vol. LVI No. 10, June 11, 2009 For the Magic Mojito, cotton candy balloons out of a flared martini glass before the waiter pours the excellent basil-infused rum-and-lime drink over it and it, in turn, dissolves into the libation. Floating atop an equally deftly made margarita, a salty froth identified on the menu as sea air may be the perfect use of flavored foam, which has become a culinary cliché. —“Dining Out” P. 19, Harvey Steiman, WINE SPECTATOR Vol. 34 No. 4, June 30, 2009 After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1993, Russian mail-order brides became a distressing cliché, but as Russia grew wealthy its women were less reliant on foreign husbands. —“Summer of So-Called Love” P. 30, Marina Kamenev, MS. MAGAZINE Vol. XIX No. 2, Spring, 2009 The director also split the screen—into two and sometimes three panels. Split screens were all the rage in feature films of the 1960s, so much so that they were close to becoming a cliché, but their use in “Woodstock” helped to accommodate the sheer star power on stage (Roger Daltry and Pete Townshend in simultaneous close-ups, not one or the other) and the staggering spectacle of all the faithful who’d made a pilgrimage to Max Yasgur’s farm. —“The Rise of the Concert Film” P. W5, Joe Morgenstern, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, August 14, 2009
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Recent Examples on the Web

While there’s certainly truth in some of them, the South is so much more interesting and complex than a cliche. al.com, "Reckon Women Q&A: Adair Rutledge," 12 July 2019 When a British peer is found dead with the paw prints of a gigantic hound beside his body, the hunt for genre cliche fun is elementary. BostonGlobe.com, "South Calendar: What’s happening this week," 10 July 2019 The song’s jam refracted colors suggesting a synthed-up, space-age form of psychedelic rock, without lapsing into the musical cliches of millennial-era jamtronica. Jeremy D. Goodwin, BostonGlobe.com, "At Fenway, Phish rallies after a tentative start," 6 July 2019 But these are new times and joining the Knicks and Lakers would have been cliche', no? oregonlive.com, "Canzano: Thanks Kawhi, you just blew the NBA wide open and Portland loves you for it," 6 July 2019 The pair’s ascent is rapid even by Silicon Valley standards, where dropping out of Stanford to launch a startup is almost a cliche. Bloomberg, The Mercury News, "How two Stanford dropouts built an $860 million fortune by age 23," 1 July 2019 Entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who has positioned himself as the tech candidate, leaned into the stylistic cliche of the tech world. Robin Givhan, Washington Post, "Kamala Harris wore black. That was both unremarkable and theatrically powerful.," 28 June 2019 The writer employs cliches and subverts them easily. Ephrat Livni, Quartzy, "In an arresting new thriller, no one is innocent, including readers," 7 July 2019 While the Loons’ dressing room had probably the loudest music of the season, most of the players turned down the volume on the game’s importance, going with cliches about how the next game is always the biggest. Andy Greder, Twin Cities, "In ‘biggest game’ yet, Minnesota United beats San Jose 3-1," 3 July 2019

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.

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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

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Dictionary Entries near cliché

CLI

clianthus

Cliburn

cliché

clichéd

Clichy

click

Statistics for cliché

Last Updated

11 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cliché

The first known use of cliché was in 1881

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More Definitions for cliché

cliché

noun

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on cliché

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cliché

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cliché

Spanish Central: Translation of cliché

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