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

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. 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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Heynderickx has a knack for hitting folksy cliches dead-on for true believers, then sliding off of them just enough to keep others interested. Noah Berlatsky, Chicago Reader, "Folk musician Haley Heynderickx cultivates a different garden," 5 July 2018 Sweni’s recent pristine overhaul by Cécile & Boyd avoids all safari cliches, and is instead taking its cues, art and textiles from the vibrant surrounding communities and nature itself. Pilar Guzmán, Condé Nast Traveler, "South Africa’s Other Big Five," 20 Dec. 2018 Still, the play holds up well, thanks in part to Kaufman and Hart’s witty dialogue, their cliche-free characters, and a plot that, by the standards of the time, isn’t too creaky or drawn out. Jack Helbig, Chicago Reader, "Oak Park Festival Theatre uncovers hidden depths in You Can’t Take It With You," 21 June 2018 This is just the kind of thing that led to the cliche about watching paint dry. Chronicle Staff Report, San Francisco Chronicle, "Capsule movie reviews for April 8," 5 Apr. 2018 Not because of the tired cliche that curling isn’t a real sport (and therefore, why would a curler need to dope?) But because doping goes against the very essence of what curling is all about. Washington Post, "Olympic curling world stunned by Russian doping scandal," 19 Feb. 2018 Schaffhausen keeps the fresh plot of The Vanishing Season churning without resorting to cliches. Olin H. Cogdill, Philly.com, "'Vanishing Season': The making of a survivor," 28 Jan. 2018 The cliche that internet companies are in the business of changing the world is demonstratively true. Tracey Lien, latimes.com, "Silicon Valley played by a different set of rules. Facebook’s crisis could put an end to that," 23 Mar. 2018 Though undeniably gorgeous, beach homes tend to stick to a few design cliches. Brie Dyas, House Beautiful, "This Dutch Beach House Has an Unexpected Look," 24 July 2015

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

Dictionary Entries near cliché

CLI

clianthus

Cliburn

cliché

clichéd

Clichy

click

Statistics for cliché

Last Updated

19 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cliché

The first known use of cliché was in 1881

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

one that collects or salvages junk

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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