Snowclones are the new black.

But snowclones are not new.  You’ve probably used one already today. Think of an expression where most of it is fixed, but there’s a spot where you can substitute any word:

If you reckon something’s important:
‘Man does not live by X alone.’

If people like something that you know is actually crap:
‘X? SchmX.’?

If someone’s not quite right:
‘A few Xes short of a Y.’

(nb. I’ve replaced the changeable part of the snowclone with some spare-looking letters I found at the end of the alphabet.)

Many good snowclones come from movies:

‘In space, noone can hear you X.’ Aliens.

‘That’s not an X, this is an X.’ Crocodile Dundee.

‘These are not the Xes you seek.’ Star Wars.

‘I love the smell of X in the morning.’ Apocalypse Now

‘The first rule of X is: You don’t talk about X.’ Fight Club

‘X and Y and Z. Oh my!’ The Wizard of Oz.


Spotting these has become a fun new game on the internet. (On the linguistics websites, anyway.) The name was coined by an American professor of economics in 2004. It comes from a slightly more complex example: ‘If Eskimos have n words for snow, X have n words for Y.’

Pimp my X. (ride, holiday home, pencil case)

He couldn’t X his way out of a paper bag. (fight, navigate, blog)

X! X like the wind! (run, drive, type, eat)

I’m too sexy for this X. (shirt, body, milan, song)

They are excellent for humour, because, umm, because… Look, it doesn’t matter why. X is bliss.

If you’ve got any you can think of, pop em down below! You could also add them to the database at And remember: All your snowclones are belong to us.

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Thomas the Think Engine is the blog of a trained economist. It comes to you from Melbourne Australia.

4 thoughts on “Snowclones”

  1. “………………..” said the X ie “the sky is falling, said the little red hen.
    “It was not I” said the fox.


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