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.
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈsnəʊ.kləʊn/
- (US) IPA(key): /ˈsnoʊ.kloʊn/
Audio (US) (file) Audio (AU) (file)
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 be or not to be".
- 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, “Archived copy”, in (Please provide the book title or journal name), archived from the original on 6 September 2006, retrieved 30 June 2021:
- Suddenly snowclone hunters were documenting media usages suggesting that, in space, no one can hear you belch, bitch, blog, speak, squeak or suck.
- 2006 June 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 July, Mark Peters, “Not Your Father's Cliché”, in Columbia Journalism Review, volume 45, number 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
- 2004 January 16, Geoffrey Pullum, “Snowclones: lexicographical dating to the second”, Language Log