The cliché is one of the most hated phrases of language found in writing of all types, from the great American novel to the simplest marketing blog post. Editors, writers, and readers cringe at the sight of overused phrases. But even though writers shouldn't use trite phrases to meet their word count or make up for a creativity gap, we argue there is a time, place, and art to using clichés.
Well-known turns of phrase provide a familiarity and level of connection in marketing material that sometimes can't be achieved with original or inventive content. Understanding the balance of connecting with customers and sounding stereotyped helps establish a certain authority and innovation in your writing.
To use clichés effectively, you must not rely on them as a crutch. Integrate them wisely and exhibit creativity in all other areas of your content.
Origin of the Cliché
The word "cliché" has origins in the French newspaper business. Some of the first printing presses used moveable type, or a system of putting letters one by one into an iron cast. The French devised single slugs of metal with frequently used words and phrases to use rather than put words together individually every time. The word "cliché" is reminiscent of the sound those casts made when used. The most commonly used words and phrases came to be known as clichés.
The word "cliché" now holds a great deal of negative connotation. But how does a phrase end up with this unfortunate reputation?
Some people believe that a group of words becomes a cliché when it loses meaning or emotion. After so many appearances, an expression goes from inciting imagery and emotion to being glossed over and even scoffed at.
Clichés come naturally to every writer because they're an easy way to get a point across without any real work.