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.
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Recent Examples on the Web 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 Sure, settling in on your sofa with a pint of Ben & Jerry's is a bored-at-home cliche, but churning out your own custom recipe is an accomplishment. Country Living Staff, Country Living, "27 Fun & Useful Things to Do When You're Bored," 10 Apr. 2020 New characters are introduced this season that could illustrate a chapter in the TV-cliches-to-avoid handbook. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "How Christina Applegate saves season 2 of Netflix series 'Dead to Me,' returning May 8," 4 May 2020 Suddenly, the cliche ‘a pop of colour’ means something again, because these sweats burst out of the grid, making everything else around them seem gray in comparison. Connie Wang,, "How This Matching Sweatsuit Became The Unofficial Uniform Of Quarantine," 21 Apr. 2020 Dating from the early 1900s, Old Northeast is a historic residential district that actually lives up to the cliche about having something for everyone. Paul Abercrombie, Washington Post, "St. Petersburg, Fla.," 12 Feb. 2020 For in a world where music has become increasingly sanitized and unable to venture beneath the surface cliches of human emotion, Shane’s songs stand out in ever greater relief. Alex Ritman, Billboard, "Johnny Depp to Produce Documentary on The Pogues' Shane MacGowan," 5 Feb. 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.

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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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Time Traveler for cliché

Time Traveler

The first known use of cliché was in 1881

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Statistics for cliché

Last Updated

23 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cliché.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jul. 2020.

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on cliché

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cliché

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cliché

Spanish Central: Translation of cliché

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