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When I am Copyeditor General ...: Cliché will always be a noun


Cliché will always be a noun

You know that scene at the end of The Usual Suspects, where Agent Kujan pieces together fragments of Verbal Kint's story and realizes he's Keyser Söze? (No spoiler alert; if you haven't seen it yet, you deserve to have the twist revealed to you.)

Back in the early '90s, I found an incorrect use of the word cliché in Entertainment Weekly. And suddenly I realized I'd been seeing this over and over in print. It was beyond editorial understanding.

Examples? How about the 13,000 that appear in a Google search for "it was cliche"?

Or the 99,000 that show up for "so cliche"--one of which, on the first SERP, appears to have been written by a university librarian?

Compare these to the paltry 42,000 results for "such a cliche" and the 10,000 for "what a cliche" and it becomes clear that the majority of people writing online don't understand the simple fact that cliché is a frickin' noun.

The adjective is clichéd. With a frickin' d at the end.

Maybe part of the problem is that cliché itself has become something of a cliché.

Copyeditor General's ruling: If you can't use platitude, truism, bromide, stereotype, chestnut, or buzzword, and if you don't want to describe something as hackneyed, inane, vapid or trite, please don't say anything at all.

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