The cartoon above plays on a statement by a famous pop artist. Writing for the catalogue of an exhibition of his art in Stockholm in 1968, Andy Warhol said, “In the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.”
His words are often misquoted or paraphrased, but what has remained in our collective consciousness is the phrase “15 minutes of fame.” It is somewhat of a cliché (cle SHAY), a phrase or saying that is overused.
A cliché, however, can come in handy. Because most of us recognize it, it becomes linguistic shorthand. We can blithely blaze from one cliché to another, confident that we’re making ourselves understood … just not in an imaginative way.
Cartoonists have been poking fun at clichés for quite some time. Consider the cartoon, “Our Three-Volume Novel at a Glance," by Priestman Atkinson. He produced it for the Punch Almanack for 1885, according to Wikipedia. Wikipedia further explains: “This is a jocular look at some clichéd expressions which were overused in the popular literature of the time. It contains absurd literalistic interpretations of a number of conventional metaphors, accompanied by some outrageous visual puns.”
Cartoon courtesy of Wikipedia
How many clichés do you know? I’ll list some that I either love or hate tomorrow.