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See also: Platitüde



From French platitude, from plat (flat), from Vulgar Latin *plattus, from Ancient Greek πλᾰτῠ́ς (platús).


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platitude (countable and uncountable, plural platitudes)

  1. (countable) An often-quoted saying that is supposed to be meaningful but has become unoriginal or hackneyed through overuse; a cliché.
    • 1918, Algernon Blackwood, chapter XI, in The Garden of Survival:
      Beauty, I suppose, opens the heart, extends the consciousness. It is a platitude, of course.
    • 1922, Michael Arlen, “2/1/2”, in “Piracy”: A Romantic Chronicle of These Days[1]:
      Semiramis was the first woman to invent eunuchs and women have had sympathy for them ever since; [] and women can tell them what they can't tell other men. And Ivor, suddenly cheered by laughing at his absurd platitudes, and finding himself by the door, was going from the room.
    • 2019 August 30, Jonathan Watts, “Amazon fires show world heading for point of no return, says UN”, in The Guardian[2]:
      For most of the past three decades, the natural world was treated almost as an afterthought by world leaders. If discussed at all, it was with platitudes about the need to save polar bears and tigers.
  2. (countable) A claim that is trivially true, to the point of being uninteresting.
    • 1963, James R. Kreuzer; Lee Cogan, Modern Writings on Major English Authors, Ardent Media, page 109:
      The synthesis which he helped to effect was so successful that this aspect of his work escaped notice in the last century: all that Britomart stands for was platitude to our fathers. It is platitude no longer.
    • 1993, Harold B. Segel, The Vienna Coffeehouse Wits, 1890-1938, Purdue University Press, →ISBN, page 210:
      After explaining myself sufficiently, I now offer my own platitude: I believe that the institution of the cabaret has the right to exist only so long as it bears the character of dilettantism and improvisation.
    • 2012 September 16, Mathias Risse, On Global Justice, Princeton University Press, →ISBN, page 149:
      Indeed, in the ownership scenario the idealization is supported in a much thinner manner: we start with a platitude that characterizes individuals as coowners (that they are de facto seen as either property holders themselves or otherwise as []
  3. (uncountable) Flatness; lack of change, activity, or deviation.
    • 1992, Ed Jewinski, ‎Andrew Stubbs, The Politics of Art: Eli Mandel's Poetry and Criticism, page 31:
      The former figures the typical prairie landscape-poet who who stops at the correction line (which itself literally denies the platitude of flatness) to notice the ever-present wind.
    • 2001, Elissa Marder, Dead Time: Temporal Disorders in the Wake of Modernity, page 87:
      With the photograph, we enter into flat death. One day, leaving one of my classes, someone said to me with disdain, "You talk about death very flatly." — As if the horror of Death were not precisely its platitude!
    • 2013, Ernest Lepore, ‎Kirk Ludwig, A Companion to Donald Davidson:
      Though we do not have a traditional correspondence theory, which sets up a structural similarity relation between statements and facts, we have the truth of sentences determined by word-to-world relations, in particular, relations between linguistic items and objects. This reflects the platitude behind correspondence, but the Tarskian appartatus gives the platitude more substance.
  4. (uncountable) Unoriginality; triteness.
    • 1978, Seven Cities of Australia, page 45:
      seemly platitude, flat-footed ordinariness, and well-enacted upper working class respectability cancel out any turpitude, exhilarating tension or satanic glamour a casino might be expected to have.
    • 1984, Library of America, ‎Edgar Allan Poe, ‎Gary Richard Thompson, Essays and Reviews, page 71:
      After a passage of what we feel to be true poetry, there follows, inevitably, a passage of platitude which no critical pre-judgment can force us to admire;
    • 2001, Daniel R. Davis, ‎Matthew Arnold, On the study of celtic literature, page 127:
      Of the true steady-going German nature the bane is, as I remarked, flat commonness; there seems no end to its capacity for platitude; it has neither the quick perception of the Celt to save it from platitude, nor the strenuousness of the Norman;
    • 2014, Hester du Plessis, ‎Jeffrey Sehume, ‎Leonard Martin, Concept and Application of Transdisciplinarity in Intellectual Discourse and Research, page 29:
      More damning, this 'flat-pack kit' causes us to decline into platitude and predictablity, denies us from real political intellectual purchase and, as result, standard theoretical ideas become our ideological comforters.



Related terms[edit]



  • platitude at OneLook Dictionary Search
  • platitude in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911



From French platitude.



platitude f (plural platitudes, diminutive platitudetje n)

  1. platitude, cliché



plat (flat) +‎ -itude



platitude f (uncountable)

  1. flatness
    • 1921, Henri-René Lenormand, Le Simoun[3]:
      La chebka. Une immense platitude de pierres. Une sorte de néant jaunâtre, sous un ciel sulfureux.
      The Sebkha. A vast expanse of rocks. A sort of yellowish nothingness under a sulfurous sky.
  2. (figuratively) blandness; lack of originality

Further reading[edit]



platitude f (plural platitudes)

  1. platitude (an overused saying)
    Synonym: clichê
  2. platitude; triteness; unoriginality
    Synonym: banalidade