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 44 Make Lemonade A motto and a method. Arts & Culture Issue 41 We’ll Always Have Paris The clichéd capital of comparison. Arts & Culture Issue 29 Notes to Self On the origins—and therapeutic properties—of the notebook. Arts & Culture Issue 28 The New Democrats In Canada, brothers Jagmeet and Gurratan Singh are redressing the stereotype of “image-conscious” politicians. Arts & Culture Issue 44 Hannah Traore The art world's next big thing is a gallerist. Arts & Culture Issue 44 The False Mirror Compositions inspired by the iconic clouds—and surrealist sensibilities—of René Magritte.