Posted by: Jack Henry | May 17, 2022

Editor’s Corner: It’s warm out–are you ready for a snowclone?

Good morning, everyone! Today’s topic is another “word about words” from snowclone. A snowclone is a “cliché or templated phrase that can have different words filled in” to describe new situations. For example, the slogan for the movie Alien (1979) was “In space, no one can hear you scream”; the template for these Alien snowclones is: In space, no one can hear you X. Some resulting snowclones are:

  • In space, no one can hear you belch.
  • In space, no one can hear you complain.
  • In space, no one can hear you DJ.
  • In space, no one can hear you dream.

The following snowclones are from Wikipedia and others are from pop culture.

X is the new Y

  • Orange Is the New Black (Netflix℠ series)
  • gray is the new black
  • 50 is the new 40
  • Quiet Is the New Loud (album name)

The mother of all X

(From Wikipedia) The phrase entered American popular culture in September 1990 at the outset of the Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein’s Revolutionary Command Council warned the U.S.-led Coalition against military action in Kuwait with the statement "Let everyone understand that this battle is going to become the mother of all battles."

To X or not to X

Well, without the X, most of us would know this as “To be or not to be,” a famous line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. But as a template, it seems to be used for a lot of things besides just “being.” When I Googled “X or not to X,” one article in says that there are “13 million plus hits for it…with over 700 different variations on X, including rent, file, cut, drink, teach, speak, grow, herd, cheat, certify, etc.”

Have X, Will Travel

This snowclone holds a soft spot in my heart. I used to love listening to the Have Gun – Will Travel radios shows when driving the road from Seattle to San Francisco and back. Here are some other snowclones from this phrase:

  • Have Tux, Will Travel (memoir of Bob Hope, 1954)
  • Have Gun – Will Travel (1957 Western series)
  • Have Guitar Will Travel (1960 Bo Diddley album)
  • Have Rocket, Will Travel (1959, The Three Stooges film)

There are other snowclones out there, but some of them aren’t pleasant. I like to keep this a happy place, so I hope you have a good day!

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her

Technical Editor, Advisory

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