Talk:Catchphrase/archive 1

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Differences and distinguishing

About "There are four lights!!":

First of all i am a Star Trek fan but live outside the US so i never encountered this as a catch phrase; of course it makes perfect sense and i'll probably start using it myself! (um... among fellow fans, that is ;)

However: Isn't the whole brainwashing situation and therefore the phrase itself directly based on 1984 (book and film) which is also a household name? In that case the original phrase would be the one about 2+2=5 (dont remember exactly), unless the 4 lights phrase was really popular in mainstream culture. And then what about Room 101, could it be a catch phrase? Or maybe a meme?

It sure sounds like it. Did they keep giving the guy-who-says-4 more pain? Dysprosia 06:32, 8 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Well, they kept trying to break him down, yes. I just noticed there is an article on Room 101 as well.--Black Phoenix 06:42, 8 Mar 2004 (UTC)

"Cult Phrases"

The status of a quote as a "catch phrase" often varies along with social groups/cultures (for lack of a better definition). For example, "Khaaaaaan!!!", might be considered a catch phrase among Star Trek or science fiction fans, but is properly not well known among those unfamiliar with the genre . On the other hand, "Beam me up, Scotty" or "May the Force be with you" are rather universal and deeply rooted in pop culture.

Should phrases such as "Khaaaaaan!!!" be classified as catch phrases? What about calling them "cult phrases"? I am thinking of writing a new article under that title if nobody thinks it unreasonable and would welcome any suggestions.

To clarify, i define "cult phrases" as a subgenre of catch phrases when a phrase is a prominent catch phrase but only among a particular group of people, sometimes outside the mainstream culture.

Proposed examples:

"It can't rain all the time" From The Crow -> Applies to fans of the comic and film and by extrapolation to people who follow the (modern) goth lifestyle because The Crow is very popular among them.

"Thank you for your cooperation" From Robocop -> Robocop and Paul Verhoeven fans, makes sense as satire of police and large corporation marketing/beaurocracy/hypocrisy.

"Khaaaaaan!!!" From Star Trek -> Very popular and jokingly used by Trek fans but not really anybody else, AFAIK.

Quotes from the Street Fighter and Monkey Island games, anime, science fiction, RPGs, rock bands, all sciences and fields, sports etc that have risen above the status of mere quotes and are readily used in everyday life situations but are virtually unknown in the mainstream.

All suggestions and comments welcome. --Black Phoenix 18:20, 8 Mar 2004 (UTC)

"Khaaan!" would not be a catchphrase because it doesn't identify Kirk, it's not a trademark of Kirk, it's just an infamous quote. Philwelch 00:27, 30 Mar 2004 (UTC)

My point exactly; but among a certain, well-defined group of people it is much more. This is why i propose this subcategory. --Black Phoenix 13:17, 30 Mar 2004 (UTC)

"Finest kind"?? What on earth is that?? I've never heard Hawkeye say that, and it doesn't even make any sense. Please explain. Moncrief, 9 Mar 2004 (UTC)

It's from the book by Richard Hooker; it isn't very prominent in the film or TV series. It's a pseudo-Maineism that Hawkeye used frequently to mean, well... just about anything, I think. -FZ 16:38, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)

"Say Goodnight Gracie" I think this is Goerge Burns, and predates Laugh-in, doesn't it? DJ Clayworth 22:40, 9 Mar 2004 (UTC)

That's an entirely separate catch phrase - add if you wish. The "Laugh-In" example is still valid, and is as separate from George Burns's phrase as the "Laugh-In" example is from "The Waltons"'s"Good night, John Boy," for example. Moncrief, 9 Mar 2004 (UTC)

"Don't mention the war" was quite a popular 'catch phrase' prior to Basil Fawlty saying it in Fawlty Towers.
SimonMayer 22:14, 11 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I totally don't understand why "I didn't inhale" is not a catch phrase. It becomes so popular and got repeated so frequently that many people use it as an equivalence for a humorous denial. Everyone remembers who said it and it is a trade mark!!! Kowloonese 23:24, 15 Mar 2004 (UTC)

You said it exactly. People use it as an equivalence for a humorous denial. They DON'T use it as a means of identifying Bill Clinton. As opposed to say, Tattoo's "The plane! The plane!" which really can't isn't used metaphorically elsewhere. Philwelch 00:27, 30 Mar 2004 (UTC)

There are many more that I am not sure about the source.

  • "'s Johny!"
  • "Waynes' world, Wayne's world" SNL?
  • "Don't touch my monkey" a character in SNL.
  • "Zoom zoom zoom" Mazda?
  • "That the rest of the story" Paul Harvey?
  • "To infinity and beyond" ??? Buzz Lightyear in Toy story?
  • Who's you gonna call? - ghostbusters
  • Beep Beep! Road Runner.
  • "Is it safe?" - the bad guy in a Dustin Hoffman movie.

Kowloonese 23:55, 15 Mar 2004 (UTC)

How is a catch phrase different from a slogan? Kowloonese 00:20, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)

There's quite a bit of overlap, but I think you can intuitively grasp the difference between an advertising slogan (such as, for Volkswagen, "Drivers wanted") as opposed to Tattoo's "Ze plaane! Ze plaane!".Philwelch 00:27, 30 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Should Darth Vader's "I am your father" be here? I know it's hard to imagine, but it's possible that there may still be some folks out there who would be spoiled by this.Mole 18:19, 21 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Oh, heavens, people had over two decades to see it. Mike H 18:57, Oct 8, 2004 (UTC)


As this list grows larger and larger perhaps it could/should be split into catchphrases from individuals and catchphrases from TV shows and film. Any thoughts? violet/riga (t)06:09, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I think this should just go in List of catch phrases instead of actually having it in the catch phrase article, really. Mike H 07:30, Oct 15, 2004 (UTC)
I've taken the liberty of moving them to their separate article. If anyone has objections, please raise them. I didn't think the move was controversial enough to really need discussion or anything...correct me if I'm wrong about that. Mike H 07:34, Oct 15, 2004 (UTC)
A list this long really does deserve its own "List of catch phrases" article. The real question is whether there's enough material for the main "Catch phrase" article to leave it in place. It should be more than a definition, which otherwise should be in Wiktionary. The list, too, should probably include or refer to much of the current introductory text in order to clarify what does and doesn't belong, which might make a separate "Catch phrase" article redundant. However, since there's plenty of discussion of the fine points of inclusion and exclusion in the main article and this Talk page, I would suggest the following:
  • Retain the main article, sans list, but including a thorough discussion about comparisons and contrasts to slogans, "cult phrases", famous (or infamous) quotations, and the like.
  • Replace the redundant introductory text line of the current List of catch phrases article with a briefintroduction (perhaps 2 or 3 succinct sentences) and include a link to Catch phrases for further information.
I highly recommend making definitive changes swiftly. With the list now in two places at once, people are likely to start adding and modifying both copies of the list irregularly, rapidly desynchronizing them. —Jeff Q 20:13, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)
The list is in two places at once? Where? Mike H 22:08, Oct 15, 2004 (UTC)
Apparently nowhere. When I wrote the observation above, nearly 13 hours after you, Mike H (AKATheCustomOfLife), created the List of catch phrases, I saw a Catch phrases page that included the list. I'm not sure how that happened. I see from the two pages' histories that you appear to have created the List of page from the main page, then removed the list from the latter just a minute later. I must have been looking at a cached copy of Catch phrases. Sorry about the confusion. — Jeff Q06:17, 16 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Catchphrase or not?

If "all your base are belong to us" is NOT a catchphrase, then why is it in the list of catchphrases? Plus, "don't mention the war!" has been removed from this same list! It goes against the definition in this page, don't you think?? Purple Rose 05:41, 9 May 2005 (UTC)

Bogus definition?

The article currently defines a "catch phrase" as such:

However, in order to be a catch phrase, a quote generally has to be more than a famous (or infamous) statement. It also usually serves two additional functions: first, to identify the speaker; and secondly, to serve primarily as that character's "trademark."

Says who? Certainly not several online dictionaries I consulted, which say simply that a catchphrase is "an expression that has caught on and is used repeatedly", and nothing about a character's "trademark" phrase.

This article cites no sources, which undermines confidence in its accuracy. Unless someone can come up with a reliable published source that supports the definition given in this article, I will change it. Thanks.--Kevin Myers 03:18, Jun 9, 2005 (UTC)

If a catchphrase must necessarily be successful...

Advertisers (and television content creators) often attempt to come up with catch phrases; what are the resulting phrases called when they fail to 'catch' on? [They are referred to as catchphrases during inception]

I think it's also worth noting that while some catch phrases spontaneously "catch-on" (such as Bill Clinton's "I didn't inhale"), many are intentionally promoted with the hopes that they get adopted by society at large. Most advertisement-derived phrases are examples of this (although "I've fallen and I can't get up" is a notable exception), as well as many movie and TV phrases (especially wrestling). Pimlottc 05:52, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

Flagging "facts" and inviting discussion

I was very disappointed with this article. Very strong assertions are made about what a catch phrase is and what it is not, and although I think most people can recognize (or believe they recognize) one when they see one, some of the assertions made are questionable at best, not backed up, and not helpful.

This article did not enlighten me or teach me anything, rather it confused me and just, well, muddled everything. The talk page was not any better. I suggest a thorough rewrite.

Many cultural anthropologists and pop-culture scholars study such things and write at great length about them. Surely they have come to enough of a consensus, and have more eloquently and intelligently expressed their ideas, than we have seen here. Perhaps we should invite some of them among us to help.

I do recognize that this subject is inherently subjective, but having said that, shouldn't we be all the more careful about stating something as a fact?

I hope nobody gets pissed off, but I am going to flag portions of this article, because I believe they are warranted. Please don't take it personally. I reviewed its lenghty edit history and am well aware that it has been around a while and a lot of hands have touched it. Hopefully someone with ideas better than those proposed previously will notice and stop on by.


-- Paul Klenk 06:11, 31 August 2005 (UTC)

As threatened here and at list of catch phrases, I removed some of the bogus statements from the article, including the absurd assertion that All your base are belong to us is not a catch phrase. I think the article is now ready to move forward on a more factual basis. --Kevin Myers 04:24, September 1, 2005 (UTC)
Oh, and more examples are needed in the text, especially since the list of catch phrases is so long, without context, and many of them are not actually popular catch phrases, since the list sprang from a bogus definition. I put several examples in the article, but they're all from the U.S. Some British and Canadian catch phrases should be added, at least. --Kevin Myers 04:28, September 1, 2005 (UTC)
Kevin, nice work on the clean up. Some thoughts:
I think Manifest Destiny's endurance as a phrase is valid, but I'm not sure I would it a catch phrase any longer. It caught on, yes, but then it sort of made it into the lexicon of political/nat'l policy terms in history. Also, some of my research indicates a slight difference in meaning of catch word and catch phrase. It's hard to put my finger on it, but catch phrase seems more frivolous, while catch word seems to be adopted by serious groups talking about polict matters (see bartleby's encyclopedia).
This article will be a challenge because of it's ephemeral, subjective nature. Plus, there are frankly a lot of boobs who wander in from pop-culture chat throwing in whatever they're hearing on TV. Refactoring that stuff was a real chore. I appreciate your help. Paul Klenk 07:14, 1 September 2005 (UTC)
Yes, I'll try to make it clear that "Manifest Destiny" was a catch phrase of the 1840s, but it's no longer one -- it's a historical term. I found this article while working on that one -- I felt I couldn't link the term "catch phrase" over there until this article gave an accurate definition of the term. You're right: an article like this is a challenge. It's tough to find definitive references, and thus easy to wander into original interpretation, which is exactly what some previous editor did, in the process inadvertently concocting a dubious definition of "catch phrase." I probably won't do much more work here, so keep up the good work and best of luck. --Kevin Myers 16:41, September 1, 2005 (UTC)

Kevin, we should also explore the previous claim that CPs are mostly spread through speech, not writing. I do think there's something to this, but I think we need to make our observations with precision. Also: some phrases, like "Yada yada yada," become used in the same way the character used them -- in context of the conversation. Others just seem to be repeated as non sequiturs. klenk 23:54, 1 September 2005 (UTC)

This makes me think of another interesting point: how TV can turn an old expression into a brand new catch phrase. I'm sure there are many people who think "Don't have a cow" originated on The Simpsons and that "yada yada yada" was coined on Seinfeld, but both phrases predate the TV shows by many years: they didn't become catch phrases until they were used memorably on TV and repeated all over the place.
As for how catch phrases are actually spread, I imagine that it's a combination of all media as well as conversation around the proverbial water cooler. Certainly technology has a huge effect: before TV & the Internet, catch phrases were probably spread by radio and (before that) in print. It'd be nice to have a source that has explored this.--Kevin Myers 15:24, September 4, 2005 (UTC)
Origin or "coining" has nothing to do with it. What makes a catch phrase a catch phrase is not that it's new, but that it becomes so widespread so quickly.
How they are spread is not the same thing as how they got started, or who started them. Your point is well taken, however. And I'm sure that cultural anthropologists have written a plethera about this topic and could write an amazing article here. paul klenk


Just a comment, rather than a criticism, but most of the examples on the main entry will only really make sense to a US audience, The Simpsons, with it's massive international syndication are an exception.

2007-02-1 Automated pywikipediabot message

--CopyToWiktionaryBot 02:30, 1 February 2007 (UTC)


  • On 11 November 2007 Flyer22said: "I can expand this article, but it won't be immediate that I do."
  • I think that it needs to be clear that a catch phrase does not have to be identified with a specific individual. A catch phrase can point to a joke, a period of time, a profession, etc. --Bejnar (talk) 03:33, 27 November 2007 (UTC)
Sorry that it's taken so long for me to get back to this article. I've been busy with so many things. Yes, I'll expand this article soon. Flyer22 (talk) 06:33, 15 February 2008 (UTC)
And two years later, I've started the expansion. Flyer22 (talk) 15:13, 15 December 2010 (UTC)
Agent 86 removed my addition three days after I added it, saying "remove what is more an academic analysis that is somewhat removed from specific subject of article."
That removal makes no sense to me. How is it "somewhat removed"? It has to do with the topic at hand. The source says "Film quotes," but it is most definitely about catchphrases. It being about one aspect of catchphrases -- widely repeated film quotes -- makes it no more removed from the topic. Other aspects of the topic can and should of course be added as well, as long as they are reliably sourced. Furthermore, the fact that it is an "academic analysis" is all the more reason it should be in this article. This article should have scholarly and academic analyses/references explaining what a catchphrase is, why it is used, its effects on society, etc., etc., etc. That is what good articles on terms are. It's as if Agent 86 is saying, "Why catchphrases are used and their effects on society should not be in this article." Which I find silly, and is why I restored it. If this article is not supposed to be expanded that way, then what way is this article supposed to be expanded? Is it supposed to remain a stub forever? Agent 86's removal put the article right back into its WP:DICTIONARY state, which has caused this article to be in so much trouble time and time again and even transported to wikitionary instead. Just now finding out about this revert has angered me, but I will not be getting into some huge revert war at this article. I will simply take this matter toWP:RfC or some other dispute resolution if need be. Flyer22 (talk) 02:12, 26 February 2011 (UTC)
Update: This seems to not be a significant dispute, as Agent 86 respondedthis way (saying it's an overreaction in his edit summary without even responding), and I responded this way. Flyer22 (talk) 16:15, 26 February 2011 (UTC)
  • I'd say "getting angry" (over a minor paragraph in a minor article), writing a windy paragraph about it, and immediately threatening to go to some sort of dispute resolution over your edit before there was even a "dispute" was pretty much an over-reaction, making me think you have some sort of ownership of the article. As this is really not an important article in the scheme of things, I really don't feel any need to get any further into your edits. Knock yourself out, have fun.Agent 86 (talk) 21:40, 26 February 2011 (UTC)
    • Saying that this was/is bait and that I am a troll pretty much proves that you are unfamiliar with how Wikipedia works on this front. Wikipedia editors become frustrated or angry (or both) over reverts all the time, even minor ones. See WP:EDIT WAR, for the most extreme example. Your revert, however, was not minor. I became angry over your revert, yes, because I only recently found out about it and you reverted me for some silly reason that actually goes against what Wikipedia is about. Wikipedia editors often also take reverts that are disputed to the talk page, or cite some sort of dispute resolution while there. It is a dispute when you revert me and I revert you; we disputed each other's edits. I had know way of knowing whether or not you were going to keep reverting me. And I certainly had no desire to get into an edit war over this, so I cited dispute resolution. Funny that you call it a threat. If you have done nothing wrong, then it should not be a threat. And nice try, saying that I have WP:OWNership issues with this article, when that actually reflects you better than it reflects me, and is what I thought of you with that revert and seeing your past interaction with this article; I have hardly edited this article. You, on the other hand, as reflected in the edit history, have been all over this article, reverting this or that. If I had ownership issues with this article, I would be a lot more active with it and it certainly would not have taken me months to discover your silly revert. The fact that you won't even try and justify why you reverted and have instead tried to turn this around on me as an overreaction and WP:TROLLing just proves my points. Flyer22 (talk) 19:56, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Look, I initially tried to ignore your petulant and thin-skinned response since you posted your original rant, merely removing the link you put to it on my talk page. If you had left well enough alone, I could have kept on ignoring you, yet you had to come back here and complain about my response. I stand by my original assessment that you over-reacted. You could have simply made the changes you wanted and put your reasons for doing so on the talk page. Instead, you added all sorts of of emotional responses and immediately threatened some sort of dispute process. Stick to the facts and leave your emotions out of it. React to this how you want, because I see no need to waste any more time with your hurt feelings.Agent 86 (talk) 01:19, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
    • Sigh. You appear to be completely unprofessional. Ignoring instead of discussing, attacking instead of discussing. Your definition of "overreaction" includes most experienced Wikipedia editors' reactions -- as most do what I do and take the matter to the talk page, as well as often alert the editor they are in a dispute with as to the discussion. I did not come back here and complain about the "over-reaction" edit summary response on your talk page; I added your response, by saying "This seems to not be a significant dispute." And "all sorts of emotional responses"? I stated that your revert angered me and why, mostly based on Wikipedia article standards. But there you go again with the "threatened" talk. Another sigh. I did stick to the facts. You ignored those facts, by your own admission. My feelings were not hurt; I was angered. There's a difference. And I had every right to be. Flyer22 (talk) 02:25, 28 February 2011 (UTC)

where does this one come from?

"Put your money where your mouth is"? Did it form during the early mobster controlled chicago period? 15:50, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

thats been around as long as i can remeber( albit thats not so long) but it seems alot of old tv shows or movies have had it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:36, 18 May 2010 (UTC)

Requested move

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was move per request.--Fuhghettaboutit (talk) 13:04, 23 February 2011 (UTC)

Catch phraseCatchphrase — To suit the entries in dictionaries such as Merriam-Webster, Oxford, Cambridge, etc. none of which use a space (Follow-up to User talk: advantage of catch phrase over catchphrase?). Redrose64 (talk) 12:43, 16 February 2011 (UTC)


Feel free to state your position on the renaming proposal by beginning a new line in this section with*'''Support''' or *'''Oppose''', then sign your comment with ~~~~. Since polling is not a substitute for discussion, please explain your reasons, taking into accountWikipedia's policy on article titles.
  • Support.  According to Merriam-Webster (US),catch phrase as two words is incorrect. It should only be spelled as catchphrase. TheCambridge dictionary (UK) agrees.

    As Wiktionary is a dictionary edited by anyone, and not of the stature of either Webster or Cambridge, Wiktionary’s use of catch phrase as the primary form and catchphrase as an alternative form (similarly, this Wikipedia article) would seem to be incorrect.

    Personally, I think that this article should be changed from Catch phrase toCatchphrase in keeping with both American and British authorities. Then, an editor should use AWB to globally change the spelling throughout Wikipedia from catch phrase to catchphrase, except within direct quotations. That’s my 2¢ worth! — SpikeToronto20:08, 16 February 2011 (UTC)

  • Support. My usage has always been "catchphrase", so I was a bit surprised when it was changed with reference to this article. But the dictionary entries are in line with what I already knew. Elizium23(talk) 20:22, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Support per Spike; the one word form seems normative. oknazevad (talk) 12:44, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Support Let's stick with reliable source dictionaries on this. First Light (talk) 02:47, 18 February 2011 (UTC)


Any additional comments:
  • Those ngrams are interesting: [1][2]. What happened in 1980 that made the word "catchphrase" a catchphrase? Note also that "catch phrase" was the more frequent American English spelling before then. walk victor falk talk03:50, 19 February 2011 (UTC)
Pictogram voting comment.svg COMMENT  Truly fascinating! Do you have any theories as to the change? I have been reading a bunch of books recently that were published in the 1920s and I notice that a lot of words that today are one word, were then two words. I also have a vague recollection of one of William Safire’s “On Language” columns in The New York Times Magazine dealing with this issue of how words migrate from two to one. Thanks for the nGrams! — SpikeToronto07:15, 19 February 2011 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.