What makes a catchphrase?
The dictionary definition is: 1) a phrase that attracts or is meant to attract attention. 2) a phrase, as a slogan, that comes to be widely and repeatedly used, often with little of the original meaning remaining.
I came across a list of “TV’s 60 Greatest Catchphrases” and looking at them out of context, how on earth did they become so engrained in our popular culture? I think the answer is the “context.” We attach significance to programs we watch that we enjoy, usually more than one time.
When we write, we try to make every word count, but I’m sure our readers like some passages/scenes more than others. It’s what makes writing challenging. Reaching out to readers and making their experience enjoyable. I hope they would read my books more than once.
Below are a few of my personal favorites. Click on the link above for all of those on the list.
1. “Heeeere’s…Johnny!” Ed McMahon hailed the arrival of Johnny Carson from behind the Tonight Show curtain for 30 years and it never got old. Just ask Jack Nicholson.
2. “Yada, yada, yada.” The ultimate show about nothing gave us more than its fair share of catchphrases, but this Seinfeld signature uttered by Elaine to gloss over a bad date and favored by George’s felonious girlfriend is still really something.
3. “And that’s the way it is.” Long before the advent of cable news, revered newsman Walter Cronkite closed his nightly broadcast with these iconic words. And we understood we’d just seen and heard everything we needed to know.
4. “It’s gonna be legen — wait for it — dary.” He’s a one-man one-liner machine, but our favorite Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) quote on How I Met Your Mother brilliantly captures his bro-vado.
Other favorites of mine (by older decades)
“Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman!” — Adventures of Superman
“The thrill of victory and the agony of ¬defeat.” — Jim McKay, Wide World of Sports
“Ruh-roh!” — Astro, The Jetsons
“This tape will self-destruct in five seconds.” — Mission: Impossible
“Live long and prosper.” — Spock, Star Trek
“Who loves ya, baby?” — Kojak, Kojak
“Let’s be careful out there.” — Esterhaus, Hill Street Blues
“Make it so.” — Picard, Star Trek: The Next Generation
“Resistance is futile.” — The Borg, Star Trek: The Next Generation
And then there’s is the movies…
“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” — Rhett in Gone With The Wind
“I’ll be back.” — Terminator
And, so on.
Check out the list and see if your favorites are in the list and let us know which ones. Or, if there is a catchphrase you didn’t find but love, share it with us.