Blend of snow cone + clone, after the popular idea that the Inuit have a large number of words for different types of snow; coined by Glen Whitman in response to Geoffrey Pullum on the blog Language Log.
snowclone (plural snowclones)
- A type of cliché which uses an old idiom formulaically placed in a new context.
- "To fry or not to fry" is a snowclone of the famous quotation from Shakespeare's Hamlet, "To die or not to die".
- 2005 Nov 5, auuV, "Some articles that I like. They are about language," alt.running.out.of.newsgroup.names, Usenet
- I stumbled upon the site the other day, when I was looking up the origins of the "Im not an X, but I play one on TV" snowclone.
- 2005 December 3, David Rowan, "Trendsurfing: 'Snowclone' journalism" , The Times
- Suddenly snowclone hunters were documenting media usages suggesting that, in space, no one can hear you belch, bitch, blog, speak, squeak or suck.
- 2006 Jun 20, Michael Erard, "Analyzing Eggcorns and Snowclones, and Challenging Strunk and White", in The New York Times, page F4
- Regular readers learned there first about snowclones, the basic building blocks of cliches, like "X is the new Y" or "you don't need a degree in A to do B."
- 2006 Jul, Mark Peters, "Not Your Father's Cliché", in Columbia Journalism Review 45(2), page 14
- If so, you're being snowed under by snowclones — a category of fill-in-the-blank cliché identified by linguists.
- 2006 Nov 18, unknown author, "Snowclone", in New Scientist 192(2578), page 80
- When you read phrases like these in a newspaper, you've stumbled across a particular type of cliché: the snowclone.
a type of cliché