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
  • unpack
  • 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.


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