“Cliché” and “Stereotype”

Always something to learn about how the meaning of words has changed over time.

Lexie Kahn: Word Snooper

Much of printed literature is marked by clichés or stereotypes. I mean that literally. “Cliché” and “stereotype” are printing terms.

As mentioned in a previous post, it’s unknown whether the word “click” came from French cliquer or German klicken or was invented independently. We do know that English “borrowed” the word “cliché” from French (though I doubt we’ll give it back). As it happens, the Oxford English Dictionary informs us, “cliché” is the past participle of clicher, variant of cliquer to click, applied by die-sinkers to the striking of melted lead in order to obtain a proof or cast.

“Cliché” is the French word for a stereotype block, that is, ‘a relief printing plate cast in a mold made from composed type or an original plate.’ Since the letters in a stereotype block are fixed in place and the same phrases are printed again and again without…

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2 thoughts on ““Cliché” and “Stereotype”

    • If only we had the time to learn all these fascinating things!

      In the meantime, I’m thankful for those who are willing to share their knowledge – including ones like you, my friend.

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