föstudagur, maí 11, 2007


In Webster's dictionary of 1828, stereotypes are only things used in printing: "a fixed metal type; hence, a plate of fixed or solid metallic types for printing books." Stereotype printing was that "done on fixed metallic plates." The verb meant to make such plates or to compose a book on such plates. The example sentence is: "certain societies have stereotyped the Bible."

By 1913 there is a figurative meaning as well: to fix, to make permanent. The citation is from 1887: "Powerful causes tending to stereotype and aggravate the poverty of old conditions" (Duke of Argyll).

Now the Oxford English tells us that a stereotype is "a preconceived and over-simplified idea of the characteristics which typify a person or thing."

This idea is not so fixed as one might have thought.

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