Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Snowclones

I learned a new word today:  snowclone.  When I first heard it, I immediately pictured a snowcone.  But that's not correct. 

A snowclone is actually is a neologism for a type of cliche and phrasal template originally defined as "a multi-use, customizable, instantly recognizable, time-worn, quoted or misquoted phrase or sentence that can be used in an entirely open array of different variants".

An example of a snowclone is "Tupperware is the Cadillac of Food Storage", giving rise to the template "X is the Cadillac of Y".  X and Y may be replaced with different words or phrases—for example, "Behr is the Cadillac of paint."  And if you were a fan of the WKRP in Cincinnati: "Red wigglers, the Cadillac of worms!"

Orange Is the New Black is not only a great series on Netflix, it's also a snowclone.  There are hundreds of them, but here are other examples are:
  • A few X short of a Y.
  • Yes, Virginia, there is an X.
  • This is your brain on X.
  • My kingdom for a(n) X.
  • There's no crying in X.
  • X?  We don't need no stinking X.
  • We're going to need a bigger X.
  • Whatever Xs your Y.
     
The term snowclone has only been around for about 10 years.