Cliché – What’s the original meaning of that word?

It wasn’t until I read my own first line in a review of The Portrait of Doreene Gray that I realized I’d used one of the oldest writing tropes in the book.

Outside the darkened windows of Doreene Gray’s second floor bedroom, a squall buffeted the house and whistled across the gingerbread trimming.

Yup. I’d essentially written, “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Then I thought about the word “cliché,” and then I wondered what the heck it meant in the original French.

Wikipedia to the rescue.

The word is borrowed from French. In printing, a cliché was a printing plate cast from movable type. This is also called a stereotype.[6] When letters were set one at a time, it made sense to cast a phrase used repeatedly as a single slug of metal. “Cliché” came to mean such a ready-made phrase. Many authorities say that the French word “cliché” comes from the sound made when the molten stereotyping metal is poured onto the matrix to make a printing plate,[7][8][9] including the statement that it is a variant of cliquer, “to click”,[10] though some express doubt.[11][12]

Pretty interesting, non? Anyway, this is all by way of pointing out that there’s a new review for Portrait. Bonus points for her use of “inveigling.” Haven’t heard that word in ages

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About Esri Allbritten

Esri Allbritten lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband, Angel Joe, her cat, Musette La Plume, and her Chihuahua puppy, Josie O. In addition to sushi, bowling and marimba, Esri enjoys discovering quirky, real-life towns and wreaking fictional havoc in them. She is the author of Chihuahua of the Baskervilles and The Portrait of Doreene Gray (Tripping Magazine mystery series), Jokers & Fools, and (as Esri Rose) Bound to Love Her and Stolen Magic.

Posted on July 26, 2012, in Books, Portrait of Doreene Gray, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Now that’ s what I call a good review by someone who actually read the book. Loved how she explained the halo around the Chihuahua…although the facial hair on the little critter hardly qualifies as a “Gigi”.

  2. Esri, congrats on that great review! You can tell the writer was genuinely enthusiastic! Good going!

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