Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cliche - Etymology

'cliche' - in the days of movable type it meant a set of letters/words that were used together so frequently that the printer didn't bother dismantling them.

The resulting plate was of course a solid chunk covered with the type, called a stereotype.

'cliche' was the sound made when the set was inserted into the print block and used by the French to describe such a block.

The terms cliche and stereotype became interchangeable in the printing industry.

stereotype block; stereotyped phrase, literary tag.

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