cliché

play
noun cli·ché \klē-ˈshā, ˈklē-ˌ, kli-ˈ\
variants: or less commonly

cliche

Definition of cliché

  1. 1 :  a trite phrase or expression; also :  the idea expressed by it

  2. 2 :  a hackneyed theme, characterization, or situation

  3. 3 :  something (such as a menu item) that has become overly familiar or commonplace

cliché

adjective

Examples of cliché in a Sentence

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. … 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

  6. a speech filled with clichés about finding your way and keeping the faith

  7. The macho cop of Hollywood movies has become a cliché.

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

Recent Examples of cliché from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of cliché

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


CLICHÉ Defined for English Language Learners

cliché

play
noun

Definition of cliché for English Language Learners

  • : 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


Learn More about cliché


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a severe test

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Emoji Quiz

  • emoji-the-quiz
  • What phase of the moon is this: 🌖 ?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!