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Described by Webster as "trite", clichés exploit familiarity to perpetuate points of view that might fail when analyzed along more reasonable guidelines. Familiar clichés can hide changes in events, they can direct listeners toward seemingly sympathetic characteristics of an event, they can direct listeners away from matters a speaker might want to avoid, they can reinforce a statement with meaningless assertions, or they can simply help a person identify themself with a familiar idea. Like alliterations, clichés use familiar sounding phrases to infer facts that might be wrong or misleading.

In a review of election-time reports on British politicians, journalist John Hardy Clarke found "the fact of the matter is" was the most popular cliche, uttered 740 times, followed by "and again, if I can just make this point", 430 times, and "there is no instant solution", 412. [1]


  • "popular wartime president" applied to a president who really is no longer popular
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, "the slain civil rights leader"; this appelation denies other, and more specific characteristics.
  • "The fact of the matter is..."; the proffered "fact" may or may not be relevant to the matter, or even factual.

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