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 Unfortunately, the great Rick Reilly went overboard with lame anti-fitness cliche humor to marginalize an incredibly impressive and legitimate sport. Los Angeles Times, 14 May 2022 The cliche is that the storm is calmest at its center, and Kyiv had shown that, right up to the first day of the invasion. Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times, 5 Mar. 2022 The intersecting storylines hold enough interest to pull you through the odd cliche and the occasional thesis line. Michael Phillips,, 10 Apr. 2022 And there are some admittedly amusing verbal and sight gags, including a parody of the slow-motion-run-from-a-fireball cliche that is played for maximum awkwardness. Washington Post, 23 Mar. 2022 That by itself increases scrutiny of the official who is, as the cliche goes, a heartbeat away. W. James Antle Iii, The Week, 20 Nov. 2021 Just learning to just stay connected with myself, which might sound like a cliche but cliches are often right. Alva Claire, Vogue, 2 Mar. 2022 Wearing my heart on my sleeve might be a cliche, but wearing a cannoli on it? Bon Appétit, 2 Feb. 2022 That scene also displays how smartly Semans takes risks with genre elements, pushing them to the edge of cliche without crossing over. Caryn James, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 Jan. 2022 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

19 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cliché.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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