A vogue expression, often media-inspired and usually short-lived. Contrast with adage.
Examples and Observations:
- "The ultra-high-powered-to-the-point-of-insanity network executive, played by show-stealing Alec Baldwin, has a simple scriptwriting method: start with the catchphrases ('Nuts to you, McGullicuty!', 'Who ordered the wieners?') and work backwards."
(Pete Cashmore, "30 Reasons Why 30 Rock Rocks!" The Guardian, Feb. 14, 2009)
- "Wise Latina"
(catchphrase introduced by Sonia Sotomayor, first Hispanic Supreme Court justice)
- "Are you 'avin' a laugh?"
(Andy Millman's catchphrase in Extras)
- "'Let me be clear.'
"In the first six months of Obama’s presidency, this simple sentence has gone from political pet phrase to full-on rhetorical signature, appearing (along with its variants 'let’s be clear' and 'I want to be clear') scores of times in the commander in chief’s pre-written and extemporaneous remarks."
(Andie Coller, "Obama's Favorite Phrase." Politico.com, Aug. 1, 2009)
- "I know nothing."
(Manuel's catchphrase in Fawlty Towers)
- "'A catch phrase is a phrase that has caught on, and pleases the populace.' I'll go along with that, provided these substitutions be accepted: 'saying' for 'phrase'; and 'public' for the tendentious 'populace.'"
(Eric Partridge, A Dictionary of Catch Phrases. Routledge, 1986)
- "Catch phrases can come from a variety of media sources. During the 1984 presidential campaign, Walter Mondale asked his Democratic rival Gary Hart, 'Where's the beef?' when he wanted to question his opponent's political experience. Although the expression has since died, at the time there was widespread use of this phrase, which originated from a Wendy's hamburger chain television commercial.
"Other examples of catch phrases include Homer Simpson's 'D'oh'; 'Bringing sexy back,' from Justin Timberlake's hit single; 'I'm kind of a big deal,' a famous line from the 2004 comedy Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy."
(Joseph Turow, Media Today. Taylor & Francis, 2008)
- "A catchphrase often wears itself out through overuse. A faux pas among those in the know is to date oneself by the use of an out-of-date catchphrase. As we examined catchphrases . . ., we noted that the older catchphrases (e.g., the journalistic If in doubt, strike it out, from 1894) seem more fresh than the more recent ones (Are we having fun yet? from 1984)."
(Dale D. Johnson et al., "Logology: Word and Language Play" in Vocabulary Instruction, eds. J. F. Baumann and E. J. Kameenui. Guilford, 2003)
- "Man is a creature who lives not upon bread alone, but principally by catchwords."
(Robert Louis Stevenson, "Virginibus Puerisque ii." Virginibus Puerisque, and Other Papers, 1881)