Artemy Lebedev

§ 123. Bromides

November 30, 2005

Cliché (French) is a printing plate. The word originally referred to letterpress printing (in which the ink is applied to the raised surface) but later came to signify any printing plate used for making prints.

Stereotype (Greek στερεός, solid, voluminous, spatial; τύπος, form, image) is the name of a printing plate cast from the original matrix (in contrast to a monotype that’s printed by pressing paper against the original matrix). The imprint of a book printed in Russia may sometimes contain the following note: “Second stereotype edition” (i.e. reprint edition).

Both words used to be exclusively printing terms. These days each of them is used as a synonym of the banal, commonplace, platitudinous, and trite in almost all European languages.

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