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

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 Netflix El is being bullied by a walking cliche of a Mean Girl (Elodie Grace Orkin). Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 17 July 2022 Even as Paul’s life changes mid-novel, Wayne patronizes his protagonist, reducing him to a cultural cliche which, while rooted in truth, stays flat on the page. Hamilton Cain, Washington Post, 12 July 2022 Embracing foreign policy as an attempt to jumpstart a presidency mired in domestic discord is practically a cliche at this point—Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump have all done it. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 21 July 2022 New Jersey politics are so rough and tumble that jokes about its crooked politicians are a cliche. Mark Shanahan,, 22 June 2022 So what was your favorite L.A. cliche during the time here that inspired the song? Steve Baltin, Forbes, 28 June 2022 The box was like this cliche of what prom is supposed to look like in the catalogues and movies. Janay Kingsberry, Washington Post, 21 May 2022 Every ending is a new beginning, as the consoling cliche goes; but in this book, every mention of new beginnings is immediately qualified and drained of any potential for hope. Washington Post, 4 Nov. 2021 But as the old cliche goes, fan is just short for fanatic. Jerry Beach, Forbes, 30 Aug. 2021 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for cliché

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The first known use of cliché was in 1881

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Last Updated

11 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cliché.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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