Pronounced: ERV-ruh, noun (the UK pronunciation has this as a one-syllable word)

Notes: I think I’ve heard this word, but wasn’t clear on the spelling or meaning

Yesterday’s word

The word snowclone refers to a cliche adapted to a new use

First usage

Our word came into English in the first decade of the 2000s

Background / Comments

The word was coined by Glen Whitman, an economics professor, in 2004. It originally referred to statements about Eskimos having many words for snow, which is expanded into forms like “If Eskimos have 20 words for snow, Texas have 40 words for heat.” Another example is the original Star Trek line: “I’m a doctor, not a bricklayer!” (from The Devil in the Dark, which first aired in 1967). A snowclone of this would be anything of the order “I’m a X, not a Y”; for example, “I’m an accountant, not a magician!”. There are a lot of phrases that have become snowclones, ranging from Shakespeare (‘my kingdom for a horse’ ==> ‘my kingdom for a[n] X’) to famous letters to the editor (‘Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus’ ==> ‘Yes, Virginia, there is a X’) to movies (‘You’re gonna need a bigger boat’ ==> ‘We’re gonna need a bigger X’).

Published by Richard

Christian, lover-of-knowledge, Texan, and other things.

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