Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


something that has been said so often that it is no longer interesting and shows a lack of imagination

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun platitude was borrowed from French. It was first used in English in the mid 18th century.


Platitude comes from a French word that is derived from the adjective ‘plat’ meaning ‘flat’. Platitude was originally used to refer to a quality of dullness, especially in writing, and only in the early 19th century came to be used to refer to a dull thing that someone says or writes. Writing or speech of this kind can be described as platitudinous, a term that was first used in the mid 19th century. Platitude has some pretty colourful collocates. Among the verbs, people are said to mouth, spout, parrot, spew and regurgitate platitudes, as well as mumbling, murmuring and muttering them. They are described meanwhile as variously pious, trite, bland, banal, mealy-mouthed, vacuous and vague. The message is pretty clear: avoid platitudes at all costs.


“What is all wisdom save a collection of platitudes?”
(Norman Douglas)

Related words

axiom, catchphrase, cliché, dictum

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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