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A platitude is a trite, meaningless, or prosaic statement, generally directed at quelling social, emotional, or cognitive unease. Platitudes are geared towards presenting a shallow, unifying wisdom over a difficult topic. However, they are too overused and general to be anything more than undirected statements with ultimately little meaningful contribution towards a solution.
Examples could be statements such as "meet in the middle", "busy as a bee", "method to my madness", "better late than never", "just be yourself", "burning the midnight oil" and "nobody's perfect". Platitudes are generally a form of thought-terminating cliché.
The word is a borrowing from the French compound platitude, from plat 'flat' + -(i)tude '-ness', thus 'flatness'. The figurative sense is first attested in French in 1694 in the meaning 'the quality of banality' and in 1740 in the meaning 'a commonplace remark'. It is first attested in English in 1762.
Chapman, James A. Handbook of Grammar and Composition. Pensacola, FL: Beka Book Publications, 1985. Print.
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