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Platitude vs. Cliche: What's the Difference?

By Janet White || Published on November 23, 2023
A platitude is a trite, moralistic statement offering simplistic comfort; a cliché is an overused phrase or idea lacking originality.

Key Differences

A platitude is often a moralistic statement that’s intended to provide comfort or advice but is typically vague and lacks substance. For example, saying “Everything happens for a reason” in response to a difficult situation is a platitude. A cliché, however, is a phrase, expression, or idea that has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, like the phrase “love at first sight.”
Platitudes are commonly used in social situations to offer sympathy or encouragement but often come across as insincere due to their overgeneralization, such as “Time heals all wounds.” Clichés can be found in various forms of communication, including literature and speech, and are often criticized for lacking creativity, as in the use of “as busy as a bee” to describe someone very active.
In literature, platitudes may be employed to reflect a character's personality or lack of depth. They often indicate a superficial understanding of a complex issue. Clichés in literature or movies, such as the “damsel in distress,” are seen as predictable and unimaginative, detracting from the originality of the work.
The use of platitudes can sometimes be well-intentioned, aiming to offer solace, but they may not always be well-received. They tend to oversimplify situations, diminishing the recipient's feelings or experiences. Clichés, while they can be comforting in their familiarity, are generally seen as a sign of lazy thinking or writing, lacking in effort and thoughtfulness.
Platitudes are often associated with moral or philosophical statements that are broadly applicable but offer little practical value. Clichés, on the other hand, are not limited to moral or philosophical contexts and can encompass any overused expression, idea, or element in a story or art.

Comparison Chart


Trite, moralistic statement often used for comfort
Overused phrase or idea that lacks originality


Used to offer sympathy or encouragement
Found in various forms of communication


Suggests a superficial understanding
Indicates lack of creativity or effort


Can be seen as insincere or oversimplifying
Often viewed as predictable and unoriginal


Mostly moral or philosophical statements
Any overused expression or idea

Platitude and Cliche Definitions


General enough to apply in many situations.
The platitude “Life goes on” is used in various contexts.


Comforting but uninspired.
Describing someone as “as old as the hills” is a cliché.


Implies a shallow grasp of complex issues.
“Time heals all wounds” is a platitude that simplifies emotional healing.


Lacks freshness and originality.
“At the end of the day” has become a cliché in conversation.


Often offers oversimplified advice.
“Patience is a virtue” is a common platitude.


Indicates a lack of creativity.
Using “avoid it like the plague” is seen as a cliché.


Intended to comfort, yet lacks depth.
“Better days are coming” is a reassuring platitude.


Common in literature and movies.
The “happily ever after” ending is a storytelling cliché.


Offers little in terms of practical advice.
“Everything happens for a reason” is a platitude with little actionable advice.


Not limited to moral or philosophical statements.
The phrase “love at first sight” is a clichéd concept.


A trite or banal remark or statement, especially one expressed as if it were original or significant.


A trite or overused expression or idea
"Even while the phrase was degenerating to cliché in ordinary public use ... scholars were giving it increasing attention" (Anthony Brandt).


Lack of originality; triteness
"a passage of platitude which no critical prejudgment can force us to admire" (Edgar Allan Poe).


A person or character whose behavior is predictable or superficial
"There is a young explorer ... who turns out not to be quite the cliche expected" (John Crowley).


(countable) An often-quoted saying that is supposed to be meaningful but has become unoriginal or hackneyed through overuse; a cliché.


Usage Problem Clichéd.


(countable) A claim that is trivially true, to the point of being uninteresting.


Alternative form of cliché


(uncountable) Flatness; lack of change, activity, or deviation.


Alternative form of cliché


(uncountable) Unoriginality; triteness.


A stereotype plate or any similar reproduction of ornament, or lettering, in relief.


The quality or state of being flat, thin, or insipid; flat commonness; triteness; staleness of ideas of language.
To hammer one golden grain of wit into a sheet of infinite platitude.


A trite or obvious remark.


A thought or remark which is flat, dull, trite, or weak; a truism; a commonplace.


A trite or obvious remark


A trite or obvious remark


What is a platitude?

A simplistic, moralistic statement used to offer comfort.

What is a cliché?

An overused phrase or idea that lacks freshness.

How do platitudes function in conversation?

They’re often used to provide comfort or generic advice.

Can platitudes be harmful?

Sometimes, as they can oversimplify complex emotions or situations.

Why do writers use clichés?

Often for ease or because of a lack of more original expression.

What makes a statement a platitude?

Being a moralistic, often repeated, and oversimplified statement.

What is an example of a platitude in a difficult situation?

Saying “This too shall pass” during tough times.

Is it possible to reinvent a cliché?

Yes, by giving it a unique or unexpected twist.

Why are clichés frowned upon in writing?

Because they suggest a lack of originality and creativity.

Do platitudes have any positive aspects?

They can offer a sense of shared wisdom, despite being simplistic.

Are platitudes always obvious?

They can be, especially when they offer well-known generic advice.

How do clichés impact storytelling?

They can make a story predictable and less engaging.

Where are clichés commonly found?

In everyday language, literature, movies, and various media.

Can clichés ever be effective?

Yes, when used sparingly or for a specific intentional effect.

How can platitudes affect emotional support?

They might undermine genuine empathy by being too generic.

Can a platitude be well-received?

Yes, especially if it aligns well with the listener's beliefs.

Why might someone rely on platitudes?

For ease of conversation or when unsure of what else to say.

How can one avoid using clichés?

By striving for originality and creativity in expression.

Do all cultures have clichés?

Yes, clichés are a common aspect of language in all cultures.

What's a common cliché in romantic stories?

The notion of “love conquers all” is a frequent cliché.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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