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Stereotype & Cliche

A stereotype, in printing, also known as a stereoplate or simply a stereo, was originally a a solid plate or type-metal, cast from a papier-mâché or plaster mould taken from the surface of a forme of type used for printing instead of the original. The stereotype was invented by Firmin Didot. Over time, this became a metaphor for any set of ideas repeated identically, en bloc, with minor changes. In fact, cliché and stereotype were both originally printers' words, and in their literal printers' meanings were synonymous. Specifically, cliché was an onomatopoeic word for the sound that was made during the stereotyping process when the matrix hit molten metal. This was known as 'dabbing' in English. Precisely, the forme was placed on molten lead at the point of cooling to make the cast.

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