Before computers, printing involved carving letters out of wooden blocks, then dropping the blocks into metal to create a ‘stereotype’ from which to print. The French word for this was ‘clicher’, a variant of ‘cliquer’ meaning ‘to click’.
Some phrases or groups of words commonly go together, so instead of laboriously grouping single letters or words a single ‘stereotype’ could be used. It is from this that we get the word ‘cliché’ meaning a commonly or overused phrase.
Clichés abound in sporting commentary, in politics and workshops:
- a grinding game
- free-flowing play
- drill down
- walk the talk
- it’s not over until it’s over
- bottom line is….
- inherited from previous administrations
- it is going to take time and a whole raft of measures
- let me be absolutely open and honest
Help your child or students to listen and read actively for clichés and make a cliché wall or book.
Although idioms can also be overused, they are different in that they do not have a literal meaning. The figurative meaning of idioms is different from their literal meaning, which may often sound absurd or silly.
Compare clichés with idioms.
For videos on idioms