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An anti-cliché is a literary device or figure of speech that twists the meaning or phrasing of a known cliché. Although not named as such by literary critics, many writers, comedians, and poets have made use of the anti-cliché to provide a memorable and often ironic phrase, line, or passage.

Another concept of the anti-cliché relates to the relative merit of any particular news story. A report that will likely garner interest in the target readership must be considered newsworthy; reporting similar trivial events does not generate a sufficient level of interest. The most prominent example of this is the Man Bites Dog paradigm. A daily newspaper would become increasingly stale if there were constant reports of dogs biting men, as the phrase suggests. However, the reverse concept of a man biting the dog is unusual, perhaps novel and hence particularly newsworthy purely due to the inherent irony of such an event.

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Man bites dog

The "Man bites dog" trope is an anti-cliché that consists of varying the meaning of a cliché by exchanging the position of the two main nouns, inverting their role. This trope has some similarities with anastrophe; however, anastrophes, being schemes, don't change the meaning of the sentence and just operate on the syntax.[1] Since the man bites dog trope overturns the meaning of the original sentence, it is often used in satire and comedy, as illustrated by Woody Allen:

Years ago, my mother gave me a bullet...a bullet, and I put it in my breast pocket. Two years after that, I was walking down the street, when a berserk evangelist heaved a Gideon bible out a hotel room window, hitting me in the chest. Bible would have gone through my heart if it wasn't for the bullet.[2]

Notable examples of anti-cliché

References

  1. ^ Barney R. Quinn and Arthur Quinn (1993). Figures of speech: 60 ways to turn a phrase. pp. 39–48. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=naa20iNBtzEC.  
  2. ^ Woody Allen Bullet In My Breast Pocket from album Standup Comic

See also

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