Cliché

A cliché (pronounced "clee-shay") is an expression or idea that has been used over and over again. It was once clever, but now it's been used so many times that now it doesn't seem interesting or intelligent any more.

Clichés are easy for people to understand because they're so familiar. But when you're trying to be creative or sound really intelligent, it's good to avoid clichés. If someone tells you that your ideas or expressions are "clichés", it's a bad thing. It means that your ideas are dumb.

Here are some examples of clichés in English language and culture:

Clichéd English expressions:

    • When someone gives you a gift, you say:

      Oh, you shouldn't have!

    • When someone treats another person meanly or unfairly:

      What goes around comes around.

    • Something bad or annoying happens, but you can't change it or fix it:

      It is what it is.

    • When someone looks down on a person because of their appearance, you say:

      You can't judge a book by its cover.

    • When a man comes home after work, he calls out to his wife:

      Honey, I'm home!

Other examples of clichés:

  • In English-speaking culture, there's a cliché that blonde women aren't smart. So there are a lot of clichéd jokes about "dumb blondes".
  • A common cliché in action movies is for bad guys to wear all-black clothes, have slicked-back hair and sunglasses, and carry lots of money around in a briefcase.
  • Comparing a beautiful woman to a flower is very clichéd metaphor.

Using the word "cliché":

When you think an idea is too old and predictable, you can say:

That's such a cliché!

There's also an adjective form of "cliché":

That's so clichéd.

However, there's some confusion about the adjective form. Some people use "cliché" instead of "clichéd":

That's so cliché!

In fact, this form is probably more common in spoken English than "clichéd", which is the more formally correct adjective.


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