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(pronounced plat-ih-tood-nus or plat-ih-tyood-nus; “oo” pronounced as in “boot” and not as in “book”)  adjective


resembling a platitude; full of, or given to, platitudes; clichéd or hackneyed.

Platitude (pronounced plat-ih-tood or plat-ih-tyood) noun : 1. a banal, stale, or trite remark, especially one uttered as if it were fresh, original, or having intellectual depth and insight. 2. the quality of being dull, trite, flat, or ordinary.

Main Example

  • Given the brevity of a news broadcast, you would expect reporters to be concise and leave out the trite and commonplace. Yet, they often fritter away some their 20- to 30-second reports on platitudinous words. One recent example: a correspondent in Kabul who began his report with the platitude “These are violent times in Afghanistan.” Looks like he has been asleep during the past 16 years of intense violence in that country. One of this author’s best examples is from the time of Hurricane Ike. In the wake of that monster storm which destroyed substantial parts of Galveston, a reporter wasted some of her 25-second report on the following platitudinously obvious statement: “...And rebuilding this city will certainly take a lot longer than it took Ike’s powerful winds to demolish it.”

Workplace Examples

  • I often hear execs start off a speech with the words “We are living in a time of great change.” And, mind you, they’ll utter them very gravely, as if that’s big news. Whenever I hear such platitudinous statements, I feel like walking up to them, grabbing them by the shoulders, and asking, “Can you tell me of any period since, say, the dawn of the telegraph, when we did not experience rapid change?”
  • The other day, while browsing, I was struck by the scathing reviews for a book on business etiquette. According to one angry customer, the 60-page book is filled with platitudinous advice such as “When it is raining, use an umbrella to keep your hair and face dry,” and “Have a pad and pen handy for notes during the meeting.” What insight!

Other Examples

  • while presenting a short seminar for executives and managers on “Employee Recognition: How to Deliver Effective Praise in Just Three Sentences,” this author saying: “One of the biggest problems at service anniversaries and award ceremonies is that the boss’s praise is utterly shallow and unimaginative, filled with trite and superficial words such as ‘Kudos to you, Alice’ or ‘Great job, Charlie,’ and so on. Research has firmly established that such platitudinous statements usually have an adverse impact on employee loyalty and morale. What a wasted opportunity, especially considering that anyone can construct, in less than five minutes for each employee, words of praise that are fresh, memorable, and highly motivating.” [Do you know of an upcoming conference, convention, or other event where one of V.J.’s many seminar topics could be a good fit? If so, please let him know by calling 281-463-2500 or emailing Revenues from his seminars help fund the research and production of “Words of the Month.”]
  • a colleague saying to you: “I know Gayle and the three employees seated next to her enjoyed the presentation--I could tell from their facial expressions. But when I asked them, they had platitudinous responses, simply saying things like ‘very interesting,’ ‘important stuff,’ ‘great stuff.’”
  • during his first address to the company’s manufacturing department, the new CEO saying: “When I say quality should be No. 1, I don’t mean it just as a platitude. I mean number one! And so, within 2 weeks, I want to see a detailed plan outlining specific steps to lower our rate of defects by 75%. Got it?”
  • by giving women and minorities a significant number of key positions at all hierarchical levels within the organization, management demonstrating that the term “equal opportunity employer” is not just a platitude but is for real at their Fortune 500 company
  • a debate between two candidates for political office marked by tiresome conservative and liberal platitudes

© 2017 V.J. Singal
No part of this may be reproduced in any form without written permission of the author.

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