Is there a single word or short phrase that roughly means: "super general advice"

Advice that is so general and obvious that it is not really useful. To give some background I am a new hire at a very large company. This morning the company hosted a meeting with the CEO where he gave some steps to success. These steps included things like: "work hard" and "try to learn".

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • 5
    – WS2
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 19:41
  • 1
    I would refer to it as "invaluable guidance for the simpleminded"—but not to the CEO. "Fatuous truisms" also springs to mind.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 20:39
  • 1
    Oh—and I hope that your CEO didn't forget to say "Don't fall." That's always good advice.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 21:09
  • Bromides?
    – MT_Head
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 21:09
  • in general: generalization, over-generalization
    – pazzo
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 0:44

4 Answers 4


As I noted in a comment above, I think "fatuous truisms" fits the bill quite well, except that it's a two-word phrase. According to Webster's Dictionary of Synonyms (1942):

Fatuous does not necessarily or even often imply a pathological lack of intelligence, but it always implies the appearance of it and suggests a combination of foolishness, stupidity, and inanity.

A truism, according to Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003), has a similar sense of pointlessness:

truism (1708) an undoubted or self-evident truth; esp. : one too obvious for mention.

One-word options include banalities and bromides.

Webster's Dictionary of Synonyms does a nice job of distinguishing among various nouns of the commonplace family:

A commonplace is a stock idea or expression which is frequently little more than the obvious, conventional, and easy thing to think or say on a given subject. ... Platitude adds to commonplace the idea of flatness or triteness and often, utterance with an air of importance or novelty. ... A truism is a self-evident truth; it differs from an axiom ... in frequently implying a somewhat superfluous insistence upon the obvious; as, Pope's palpable truism "The proper study of mankind is man." Bromide (a slang term) applies to any commonplace, platitude, or truism that strikes the listener or reader as especially dull or hackneyed and often, as evidence of its maker's low-grade mentality...

The remark about bromide being "a slang term " shows the age of this reference work; but otherwise, the distinctions it makes remain current, I believe.


The obvious choices are (all definitions from the online Merriam Webster)

  • platitude : a phrase or expression that has been used so often that it is no longer original or interesting
  • cliché : a phrase or expression that has been used so often that it is no longer original or interesting

You could also use

  • self-evident : clearly true and requiring no proof or explanation

You might describe this type of advice as "common sense advice".


Though two words, I would term it : Unvaluable counsel

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