Mechanically reproduced thought: how handy! Such must have been the musings of the French typesetters who coined cliché in the early 19th century, initially as a word to describe the cast plates that printers used to more quickly reproduce common images and phrases. What’s done is done, and there’s no use crying over spilled milk, but perhaps they should have given the word a more grating, fingernail-on-chalkboard quality—which clichés often deliver. “An intellectual disgrace, ” James Parker of The Boston Globe calls them, reserving his full contempt for the politicians who are “almost obliged to speak in cliché for fear they will stray into that zone most terrifying to the electorate—the heady unpredictable zone of original thought.” Other experts slew the blame This story is from Kinfolk Issue Twenty-Nine Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 19 Going Incognito We all secretly wonder what mischief we’d make if invisible: When our identity is hidden, everything seems possible. Arts & Culture Issue 19 The Best Policy Sometimes we talk to each other without feeling heard. Honesty—a most intimate interaction—can be just as thrilling as its more devious inverse. Arts & Culture Issue 19 A Sense of Suspense With unhinged imaginations and mountains of cliff-hangers, the filmmakers behind the sci-fi podcast Limetown have all the makings of a scary story. Arts & Culture Issue 19 Like Clockwork In this new column about time, we learn how slipping off our watches makes us feel like deadline-damning renegades. Arts & Culture Music Issue 19 On a Grander Scale Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna now may live on the opposite side of the globe, but she’s determined to evolve while staying true to her roots. Arts & Culture Issue 19 Neighborhood: Fire Stations The firefighting profession has evolved over time from Ancient Rome’s rudimentary bucket brigades to today’s sleek life-saving departments.