consider the X

Ben Zimmer wrote this one up on Language Log a year ago. Here is my summary of that article.

It originated in Luke 12:24 of the Bible, X0 being both “consider the crows” and “consider the lilies”. “Consider” is translated from the Greek “observe fully”, so when using this snowclone, you’re instructing the reader to think carefully about X and compare some of its qualities to himself. X must be restricted to flora and fauna in order to evoke the original, and famous instances include daisies, cod, fish, termite, oyster, armadillo.

everyone loves Eskimo words for snow

Even Iron Man:

From Invincible Iron Man #28, Matt Fraction and Salvador LaRocca.

(Bonus “word for X” cliche action there too!)

I X therefore I am

This begins with I think, therefore I am, the translation of Descartes’ Je pense donc je suis (1637) or the more common cogito ergo sum (1644).

The Google Ngram Viewer reveals “I think therefore I am” taking off in (non-periodical) print around 1900.

The snowcloneification was surely not far behind, since so many people would already have been familiar enough with this cliche of philosophy. Something else will very occasionally occur in place of “am” (“I knit, therefore I blog“), but this generally weakens the tie to the original–unless the composer of the snowclone is very clever.

X is often single-syllable verbs, no doubt to help evoke the original, but longer words are possible: smell, skate, rez, tweet, drink*, fink*, shrink*, consume.

* Note the rhyming with the original think.

the first rule of X is, you don’t talk about X

This snowclone began with the 1999 film Fight Club, whose title is X0.

Note that the original phrase was “…you do not talk about fight club”, emphasis mine. This shifting to the less-formal contracted form is consistent with the reference to the film being a playful one, as snowclones in general so often are.

Many of the Xs are also clubs, including fat club, AppleClub, film club, Lego club. Other Xs include robots, the metro, Usenet. One unusual X, the quilting society, turns out to be in the title of an Onion article. These snowclones often serve as headlines to stories about X, in which it is interesting that participants in X do not talk about it.

Fritinancy writes up’s snowclone slogans

Her post can be found here, and includes “X is so Y”, “every time X, a Y Zs”, and “X happens”.

the snowclones database is not dead, long live the snowclones database

Here’s another quick-n-easy post to say, hello! I’m still here! And to point you to the delightful Laugh Out Loud Cats, which made a familiar reference yesterday:

in the wild: X do it like Y

T. Rex seems to have discovered a couple of snowclone-y jokes:

I’m not sure if all of them have actually reached snowclone status, but the well-worn bumper sticker slogan “X do it like Y”, particularly for any Y that is a pun on what Xes do, has certainly been in the queue for a while.