I was reading Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility when Austen used the phrase "to all intents and purposes," and it reminded me I hadn't written a cliché blog post in quite a while.
Obviously it is a cliché, but the etymologist in me began wondering when it originated and when it became a cliché. Considering that Sense and Sensibility was written over two hundred years ago (published 1811), I thought there was a possibility that maybe the phrase wasn't a cliché when Austen used it. Considering how much I love Austen, I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt (which, for those keeping track, is a cliché as well).
A quick peek at Wiktionary.com revealed that the phrase has been in use among the English since the 15th Century when it was used in legal documents, which means by the time Austen used it, the phrase was probably well-known and used quite often, like it is today.
It is funny and sometimes irritating when people get it wrong. Seriously. If you're going to use a cliché, at least try to get it right. "For all intensive purposes" is not only wrong, it sounds stupid, but you wouldn't believe how often I see it and the places I've seen it, for instance, in business documents and internet news stories - basically, people and writers who should know better.
Of all the clichés, this is the one of the few I find most tolerable, but I still avoid using it, and can't even remember the last time I may have. A cliché is a cliché, and this is one to add to your list.
Until Next Time...