Gunnar Jauch wrote:

>>I'd like to hear from you what a cliche is.  I can find it only
>>as a French term for stereotype.
>Peter is right: A cliché has a double meaning. It is not only a hackneyed
>phrase or expression.
>In pre-computer printing so-called metal clichés, thin galvanized metal
>plate negatives, were used to print images. The white areas of the image
>were etched out by acid. It was a stereotype in the literal sense of the
When I used "stereotype" I meant the printing term Peter had paired
cliche with. Your description fits the first sentence in the following
OED definition of cliche.

    1. The French name for a stereotype block; a cast or ‘dab’; applied
    esp. to a metal stereotype of a wood-engraving used to print from.
    Originally, a cast obtained by letting a matrix fall face downward
    upon a surface of molten metal on the point of cooling, called in
    English type-foundries ‘dabbing’.

But what about matrix? Like many technical terms (cliche) for one, it
has several meanings. First a digression. There is a series of objects
that alternate relief and intaglio that culminate in the object that
gets inked and set to paper. A matrix can be the intaglio form (not
forme) that is a mould (the British spelling is used) for casting a
piece of type; it is also a paper-mould made from the relief object to
be stereotyped -- the forme of a page, for instance, or a relief image.

Thanks for the details, Mr. G.

By now I'm sure I'm the only one interested. But I'm going to summarize
the discussion since it consisted tearing down rather than building up
and I really want to get back to the beginning.

Peter wrote

> Standarised spelling came about because of the needs of the print
> medium for consistency, to reduce the work needed for the production
> of the printed page on a mass scale (the printer was the first mass
> production machine). Instead of assembling pages letter by letter,
> compositors could assemble them word by word.

I challenged the word-by-word. He brought forth stereotypes and cliches.
But these are not "assemblies word by word." He claims type was set-up
and stored for common words. But even in the unsubstantiated account,
printers still are setting this store letter-by-letter. So, what could
have been a very simple matter of stating various sorts of elements used
in printing became a search for the truth among the claims.

Printing indeed played a part in standardized spelling, but over time
--you can find variant spellings on a given page of books in the 17th
century still.

Again Gunnar, thank you for the clarity. It is a great pleasure.