It often happens that a political or other figure makes a remark on to which the media fasten. That remark then goes on to become part of the language. Examples were Poindexter's 'plausible deniability', and Armstrong's 'economical with the truth', discussed elsewhere. I hear the latter expression used frequently as a euphemism for a lie.

Another classic example was when Mandy Rice Davies was told in court (1963) that Lord Astor denied having sex with her, she replied 'Well, he would wouldn't he?' Nowadays the expression is often used, sometimes by people who do not know its origin.

Is there a name for these coinages?

  • Does this also include phrases, expressions from the world of cinema and TV? E.g. "To boldly go where no man has gone before"? – Mari-Lou A Oct 24 '13 at 6:28
  • @Mari-Lou By all means. but that particular one I always use an example of how 'to not split infinitives'. – WS2 Oct 24 '13 at 6:39
  • You must mean: "to boldly split infinitives that no man had split before."! – Mari-Lou A Oct 24 '13 at 6:42

Coining a new phrasal expression which catches on in popularity can be referred to as a snowclone.

The oft imitated and mocked statement by President Bill Clinton, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" is another example of a snowclone.

Wikipedia has this to say:

Snowclone is a neologism for a type of cliché and phrasal template originally defined as "a multi-use, customizable, instantly recognizable, time-worn, quoted or misquoted phrase or sentence that can be used in an entirely open array of different variants".

An example of a snowclone is "grey is the new black", giving rise to the template "X is the new Y". X and Y may be replaced with different words or phrases – for example, "comedy is the new rock 'n' roll". The term "snowclone" can be applied to both the original phrase and to any new phrase that uses its formula. [...] A well-used twist on this is "black is the new black". An audience that has never heard the phrase "comedy is the new rock 'n' roll" can still recognize the structure and understand...[its meaning].

  • Well done! Have marked yours as the 'correct' answer. You are bound to be right. To paraphrase MRD, I should have known shouldn't I?Though I note it has not made the OED yet. – WS2 Oct 24 '13 at 9:03
  • @WS2 Well thank you, but experience tells me that there are probably other terms which are equally if not more so valid. But thanks all the same! If someone does post a answer which you agree with more, feel free to transfer your award. I really don't mind. – Mari-Lou A Oct 24 '13 at 9:10

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