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A cliché is a previously innovative idea, idiom, a work of art or a stylistic device that now appears out of date, worn or overused. The cliché exists as something mentally or linguistically template-like. It is characteristic that the property that the cliché means is not one of the properties that make the individual elements of the same type a class that can be named, but rather an additional property that is independent of it.

The term is derived from the French cliché , which means imitation . The French word originally referred to the printing form of the same name , the German word Abklatsch the proof made with it. In the German dictionary , the word cliché is not listed, but the copy as "quick deduction from a form, abusz."


In the subject dictionary of literature, clichés are defined as follows:

"[Clichés are] preconceived expressions, well-worn images, modes of expression, patterns of speech and thought that are worn out and worn out by overly frequent use, which are simply taken over without individual conviction."

- Gero von Wilpert: Specialized dictionary of literature. Stuttgart 1970.

An example of a positive cliché related to a group of people: “Germans are very punctual”. This characteristic is rationally independent of the characteristic of the crowd of Germans being German, although it cannot be determined whether this general classification applies or not. It's a cliché.

If someone uses a cliché, it does not necessarily represent the convictions of the person - it can also have been assumed carelessly. The quality that defines the cliché is not necessarily, but often, negative in nature. If the property is negatively proven, the cliché can become a prejudice . It is not uncommon for clichés to be included in the colloquial language in the form of idioms. Many, but not all, of the clichés can therefore be understood as well-worn idioms that represent entrenched prejudices. An example of a clichéd phrase: "on time like the bricklayers".

MH Abrams expressly points out that not every frequently used linguistic expression is in principle suitable for a cliché and therefore the cliché cannot be defined by the frequency of a phrase, he cites “I beg your pardon” as an example .

"For the most part we do not first see, and then define, we define first and then see."

"Most of the time we don't look first and then define, we define first and then look."

- Walter Lippmann : Public opinion (Public Opinion) 1922nd

In the handbook of phraseology , clichés are divided into language clichés and thought clichés. There clichés are referred to as "time, society and person-dependent", so they are not constant but are subject to change. From most definitions it can be concluded that clichés can only last as long as they are needed, are not inherent in things.

Differentiation from the stereotype

The word cliché is often used interchangeably with prejudice and stereotype . Prejudices express a general attitude, stereotypes a cognitive assignment. According to Quasthoff, the stereotype is exclusively related to people (groups), but not a cliché (Wilpert). In the media context, reference is also made to wear and tear. Rudi Holzberger sees the cliché as the successor to stereotypical ideas. A clear assignment and operationalization to the linguistic or behavioral level is not possible with clichés and stereotypes.

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: cliché  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Gary Blake, Robert W. Bly: The Elements of Technical Writing. Macmillan Publishers, New York 1993, ISBN 0-02-013085-6 , p. 85.
  2. clap. In: Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm (Hrsg.): German dictionary . tape 1 : A - Beer whey - (I). S. Hirzel, Leipzig 1854, Sp. 61 ( ).
  3. ^ MH Abrams: A Glossary of Literary Terms.
  4. ^ Walter Lippmann: Public Opinion. 1922; Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann (ed.): The public opinion. Brockmeyer, Bochum 1990, ISBN 3-88339-786-5 ( ).
  5. Rudi Holzberger: The so-called forest dying. On the career of a cliché: The forest topic in journalistic discourse. Eppe, Bergatreute 1995, ISBN 3-89089-750-9 ( series of publications of the Weingarten Media Academy. Volume 1; also dissertation at the University of Konstanz 1993).