There are some phrases that everybody knows, and are said in a humorous/mocking way like:

  • Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell
  • Dear diary...

Or Russian have this phrase about their failed attempts of learning English, this being the only thing they remember:

  • "London is the capital of Great Britain"

Eddie Izzard in one of his comedy shows shares his French learning experiences, remembering this line. Google seems to agree that it is a popular phrase.

  • "Le chat est sur la chaise"

So is there a name of this type of common "knowledge" phrases that are so overused that they are somewhat funny, but not just called "memes"?

  • 1
    I'm having problems trying to equate "Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell" with "Le chat est sur la chaise" as commonly used phrases indicating the only thing some people remember from long-forgotten language lessons. – Cascabel Dec 14 '20 at 16:28
  • 1
    Those which are statements of obvious facts are truisms / banalities / clichés / commonplaces. Those which give obvious advice are platitudes / bromides. These have been covered before. Only words actually addressing the 'stock phrases learned by early-learners' requirement would be on-topic. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 14 '20 at 16:54
  • I regret I am distracted from this discussion because my postillion has been struck by lightning. – Anton Dec 14 '20 at 23:08

After a couple of weeks it has come to me that old chestnut may often meet your specification.

= a subject, idea, or joke that has been discussed or repeated so often that it is not funny any more

Cambridge dictionary

= A stale joke, story, or saying, as in Dad keeps on telling that old chestnut about how many psychiatrists it takes to change a light bulb. This expression comes from William Dimond's play, The Broken Sword (1816), in which one character keeps repeating the same stories, one of them about a cork tree, and is interrupted each time by another character who says “Chestnut, you mean . . . I have heard you tell the joke twenty-seven times and I am sure it was a chestnut.”


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