tried » trite

Chiefly in:   trite and true

Classification: English – /t/-flapping – idiom-related

Spotted in the wild:

  • There’s a strong incentive to go for the trite and true, to aim for a niche of the market — like 18-to-25-year-old men — and program only sure-fire material to reach them. (Beat Radio, February 9, 1999)
  • This self-published 133-page book is easy-to-read, and is no re-tread of the trite-and-true. (
  • Forget the trite-and-true rhetoric of the past, folks, because Spurrier is anything but hackneyed. (ESPN)
  • When it comes to football styles, the preference is for low-tech, for the trite and true. For most Steelers fans, “finesse” is about as despicable as, well, the other “F-bomb.” (ESPN)

Analyzed or reported by:

[Both occurrences on are taken from articles written by the same journalist, Len Pasquarelli.]

A great number of the occurrences of this eggcorn look like blends of the idiom _tried and true_ and the adjective _trite_. There are also examples that employ all three elements:

* Having determined that a truly polite garden is one that is safe, subdued, doesn’t incite undue envy and isn’t likely to disturb the onlooker, she is in a quandary about how to remedy her yard without resorting to the tried, the true and the trite. (link)

There is nothing illogical about, say, a cliché or a film script being at the same time trite and, at least in the opinion of the writer, true. Examples of this only marginally eggcornish usage and of another very common combination of the two adjectives, “trite, but true”, abound:

* What is trite and true about love applies as well to politics: It takes two to tango. (link)
* We begin to know that “As a man thinketh so is he” is a very trite and true saying in regard to his financial affairs, as well as everything else. (link)
* It’s trite but true: voters hate disunity. (link)

The juxtaposition of _trite_ and _true_ is not recent. A page that collects quotes falsely attributed to Winston Churchill has the following citation from his book _Great Contemporaries_ (London & New York, 1937, last reprinted 1990), which is a quote Churchill attributes to Arthur J. Balfour:

> ‘there were some things that were true, and some things that were trite; but what was true was trite, and what was not trite was not true’

| link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2005/07/18 |

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