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SAT vocabulary: hackneyed

What does hackneyed mean? You’re about to find out!

Quick Vocab Quiz for the word hackneyed

First, before you read the explanation, definition, and discussion of the word hackneyed, try this quick vocab quiz:

hackneyed most nearly means

(A) trite (B) worrisome (C) noxious (D) inane (E) picayune

(Answer is below.)

Part of Speech: ADJECTIVE

Pronunciations: IPA: /ˈhæk.nid/ Glossary-style: [HAHK-need]

Definition: lacking freshness because of overuse; overused, unoriginal; clichéd (Ex: hackneyed words).

Give it to me straight: If a word, expression, slogan, or phrase is hackneyed, then it lacks originality. It’s not fresh or new because you’ve heard it a thousand times. For example, if you see a pizza parlor touting “The best pizza in town!”, do you really believe that? (What local pizza place doesn’t call itself the best in town?) Chances are you’ve seen the message dozens or hundreds of times before and therefore, the message has lost its force.

People also resort to hackneyed phrases in social situations, such as greetings and leave-takings or in expressions of sympathy or solidarity. For example, if you’re sick, people might say “Get well soon!”, “I hope you feel better!” or the like. And because we’ve heard these expressions many, many times in the past, we tend to take them less seriously than we would had we never heard the expression.

Example: The ineffective advertisement was full of hackneyed phrases and promises (“You’ve tried the rest, now try the best!”) that didn’t convince me to try the product.

Answer to the quick quiz above:

Answer Click Here to Show the Answer!

By Erin Billy

Founder of TestMagic, Inc. in San Francisco, USA.

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