How to Properly Use the Word “Cliché” in a Sentence


how to properly use the word cliche

“That is such a cliché” is a sentence/statement used commonly in writing and speech. The word is basically used to denote an oft-repeated phrase or expression. There are several hundred phrases that could be referred to as cliché in a sentence.

To properly use the word “cliché” in a sentence, make sure the phrase being used in the sentence is oft-repeated. Also, the word “cliche” should be referring to something hackneyed – which could be an overly commonplace or familiar phrase, expression, or theme.

Keep reading to learn the meaning and origin of the word “cliché”, sentences using the word, phrases that are commonly referred to as cliche, etc.

cliche word in wooden letters

Cliché: Definition 

The word “cliché” denotes a phrase or expression that has been overemphasized in literature or used to the extent of diluting its effect. The terms, ideas, or phrases now considered cliché could have been thought-provoking and striking at the time of their inception. The cliche term or phrase could also lead to feelings of irritation or annoyance in the reader.

In modern culture, the term “cliché” is invariably used to denote a predictable or expected occurrence. It can be used both as a noun or as an adjective. When used as an adjective, the word may end with the letter “d”, as in “cliched”. However, there are multiple discussions and debates online over whether cliché should end with “d” as it is a French word. 

French words don’t end with “-ed”. It’s, therefore, assumed “cliché” can also be used as an adjective. Not to mention, there’s little to no difference in the actual meaning of the word when it’s used either way.

The Origin of the Word 

As mentioned above, “cliché” has French roots, which explains why there is an accent above the letter “e”. The word could also be written without the accent.

During the age of the printing presses, the cast iron used to reproduce the words, images, or phrases was referred to as a stereotype. The noise the casting plate made was called “clicher”, which means “to click” in French. The word eventually became the jargon to denote the stereotype.

Phrases Considered to Be “Cliches”

A cliché could be a saying; or something that denotes or describes a time, people, life, emotions, love, etc. The following are some extremely popular cliches:

  • All that glitters is not gold
  • His tail is between his legs
  • They lived happily together  
  • Reading between the lines
  • Only time would tell
  • Lasted an eternity
  • An utter waste of time
  • In a jiffy
  • At lightning speed
  • Had steel nerves
  • Ugly as sin
  • Opposites attract
  • There is a silver lining to every cloud
  • The calm prior to the storm
  • Frightened to death
  • Haste makes waste
  • Time is the best healer
  • Gut-wrenching pain

Kindly note, not every cliché is true or applies to everybody. Some could be subject to interpretation. For example, “With experience comes wisdom” is a cliché that may not be applicable to all. Also, not everyone agrees with this cliché, “It’s better to love and lose than having never loved at all.”

golden glitter lights

How to Properly Use “Cliché” in a Sentence 

Not all overused words or phrases are “cliché”. It’s imperative to be wary of this rule before referring to any phrase in a sentence as “cliché”. At the same time, just because a phrase or term is considered cliché, it doesn’t indicate it’s false. The word can be used in sentences spanning varied contexts and references.

Most cliche phrases have obvious meanings. However, there could be several other oft-repeated phrases (included or not included in the list above) whose meanings become clear only if the context is known. The phrase “made of money”, for instance, could mean completely different things based on the sentence it is a part of. 

In this sentence, “Do you think I am made of money?”, the “made of money” phrase denotes the speaker has no money at all. In this sentence, however, “It feels like I am made of money”, the words imply the subject has money by the boatloads. 

Long story short, to fully understand the usage of the word “cliché” in a sentence or what it directs at, you should read the sentence with the cliché word or phrase, or be conversing with the speaker directly. Not to mention, all of these aspects have to be considered before incorporating a phrase in a sentence and referring to it as “cliché” in the same sentence. 

Do Not Overuse Cliches

For a cliché phrase or the word “cliché” to produce its desired effect, it’s imperative to use it sparingly. The immediate impression the reader has when they come across far too many cliché words or phrases or the repeated usage of the word “cliché” in subsequent sentences or even the same sentence is the author’s unoriginal thought-process. 

If a popular cliché pops up in your mind during writing, but you don’t want to risk coming across as trite, give the phrase your own twist or come up with something fresh altogether. That would bring down the need to openly refer to the phrase as “cliché”.

Bulleted List of Examples of the Word “Cliché” Used in Sentences 

Here is a list of sentences that use the word “cliché”:

  • I know it sounds cliche, but I feel secure in your arms.
  • Whether you like it or otherwise, this cliché is true: You do not get another chance to create the right first impression.
  • The three-tiered white wedding cake is common to the point of being considered cliché.
  • Soon-to-wed couples should opt for a costume design that goes with the theme of their wedding and doesn’t add any unnecessary cliché.
  • While it’s a cliché to say to be born with silver spoons, the kid truly was that rich.
  • The “love is blind” cliché truly applies to certain relationships.
  • Generally, people think of cliché styles such as birthstones when shopping for grandmother or mother jewelry designs.
  • While the immediate family of the deceased doesn’t find cliché lines such as “God loved him more than you and, therefore, took him away from you” comforting, such religious poetry is typically received well by mourners.
  • Ice cream and pickles are cliché food cravings for invariably every pregnant woman.
  • As cliché as it may sound, girls get attracted to bad boys more than the good ones.
  • To make your Valentine’s Day celebrations truly memorable, make sure you avoid cliché gifts and celebrations as that could lack individuality and spontaneity.
  • Some people view the commercialization of weddings and engagements as propagating a cliché lifestyle and living up to societal expectations and not a truly romantic event.
  • If you want to catch her off guard, do anything but the cliché dinner table proposal.
  • Most engagement proposal tips revolve around cliché accessories, such as a candlelit dinner, red roses, or a bottle of champagne.
  • Though it could seem slightly cliché now, tattoos of ships were once commonly sported by many sailors on their backs and chests.
  • Teenagers could be finicky; however, a clever theme could bring together buddies for some fun that isn’t cliché or too structured.
  • Some of the characters and dialogues in the movie are cliché.
  • That is such a cliché.

Difference Between Cliches and Idioms 

Cliches and idioms may seem or read the same, but there are certain differences between them. 

Idioms basically are figurative phrases with implied meanings; the phrases mustn’t be taken literally. For example, the phrase “bite the bullet” means to accept a thing because it’s inevitable. It doesn’t mean to actually bite a bullet with your teeth. Cliches are invariably idioms, which makes translating cliches into another language difficult as people from varied cultures may not be able to get the correct meaning. 

metal letters avoid cliche

Idioms can be transparent or opaque. When an opaque idiom is translated into another language, they usually do not make any sense as the literal meaning of the phrase has little to no link with the meaning intended. For example, “bag of bones” is an opaque idiom that means someone is extremely underweight. The implied meaning has nothing to do with bags or bones. 

A transparent idiom, on the other hand, exhibits a similarity between the intended and literal meaning. For instance, the expression, “beating around the bush” originated from game hunting in the UK. It could be applied in scenarios where someone is circling a point and not clearly saying what really happened. 

If a certain idiom gets used too often, it risks turning into a cliché. The phrases “raining cats and dogs”, “beauty is skin-deep”, etc. are idioms that have become cliché. Having said that, not every cliché is an idiom, and not every idiom is a cliché.

Perhaps, the biggest difference between a cliché and an idiom is that the word “cliché” gets used in a sentence a lot more often than “idiom”.

Conclusion 

Cliches could be dry and on point or open to interpretation. Using the word “cliché” in the same sentence helps ascertain whether a sentence has a cliché phrase to start with. It otherwise becomes open to finding out if a sentence has employed cliché phrases. Also, over a period, you could interpret certain cliches differently, reject their meanings or come to accept them, and/or maybe even make cliché phrases or statements of your own.

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.

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