Word of the day

I recently complained about something being a tired snowclone without explaining what a snowclone is.

You can think of a snowclone as a templatized version of a cliche. It’s a popular turn of phrase, aphorism, or idiom where you pop out some words and replace them with your own.

A classic example is X is the new Y.

Other snowclone examples include:

The concept originates from discussions on Language Log back in 2004. Geoffrey K. Pullum, a linguist, was looking to name the “adaptable cliché frame” used by lazy journalists. The canonical example bothering Pullum was:

If Eskimos have N words for snow, X surely have Y words for Z.

We get the name “snowclone” from the first talked about example, similar to Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, eggcorns, and gaslighting.

(Personally, I’m craving a term that describes “phenomena named after the first, or canonical, example.” If it doesn’t already exist, I propose protolog, a portmanteau of proto and logos (Greek for “first” and “word” respectively).)

There are even graphic design snowclones. Remember when “Keep calm and X on” was all the rage?

A snowclone in a snowcloneA snowclone in a snowclone

I was particularly obsessed with the snowclone “I (graphic design element) (thing)” based on “I ❤️ NY” the logo designed by Milton Glaser in the 1970s. I created a whole damn website devoted to it, but that was a long time ago.

The previous word of the day is Trivia
Somewhat related to mumpsimus