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Literature Glossary

Don’t be an oxymoron. Know your literary terms.

Over 200 literary terms, Shmooped to perfection.

Cliché

Definition:

If we had a nickel for every time someone asked us to define cliché… we'd have a nickel.

According to the brightest literary minds, clichés should be avoided like the plague. So if you think clichés give you a way with words, abandon ship. At one time, every cliché was as fresh as a daisy and could take your breath away, but you know what they say: when there are too many cooks in the kitchen, these phrases just lose their cutting edge.

Sometimes a cliché's not just a cliché (and it's not always a phrase, either). Shakespeare used clichéd characters with the best of 'em, but he did it on purpose. Now that's poetry.

We dare you to write an entire paragraph entirely in clichés. But be warned: it's easier said than done. (Trust us.)